[This fragment is available in an audio version.]
I’ve said this before in passing, but I’m becoming passionate about it. Increasingly, I believe that if you go out for a walk with a camera, you should consider attaching a difficult, opinionated lens and just leaving it on. Herewith a gallery of ten 2020 photos taken with such a lens, interspersed with preaching on the subject.
The opinionated lens in all these pictures is the Samyang 135m f/2 (actually 148mm on a Fuji X-cam), without doubt my most rewarding camera purchase in recent years. Follow that link for lots more on the lens.
That picture above shows how an unreasonably long lens can layer mid-range and distant objects in a composition that ordinary lenses can’t but your eyes think they can — they can’t actually, but they switch focus fast enough to fool you.
And of course the big bright f/2.0 does that sharp-focus/soft-field thing that makes your subject stand out and your background background-y. I can’t even remember what the purple behind the orange was, but if you’d been able to see the individual blossoms they would have got in the way of appreciating the poppies. And the weathered grey cedar fence with a diamond lattice behind the pink flower is nothing special to look at when it’s in focus.
When I’m out walking with the big Fuji/Samyang combo, that’s not the only camera I have with me, because the phone’s always there. And given the right subject, it can take pictures that are just as beautiful as the “real” camera.
In fact, the distinguishing feature of the big fat prime is that every single one of the photos it takes is something that couldn’t have been captured with any phone.
Of course, another reason to wield big glass is to capture things that are long away away. Those trees are at least ten kilometers across Howe Sound.
The heron just far enough away that it doesn’t mind my presence.
The last three pictures were captured on the first and second of August. They’re all pretty heavily processed in Lightroom, especially the mountainside. Lightroom’s “dehaze” control is super helpful on almost any photo of something that’s far away, because it’s specifically designed to counteract the effect of a whole lot of air between you and your target.
Once again with the shallow depth of field. And now, once again with the layering, which in this case gracefully collapses a city’s texture and topography into a little rectangle.
The big bright glass lets you capture something that’s moving fast on a dull day while still usefully blurring the background.
Now, there are downsides. This is big and heavy and ridiculously out of proportion with the Fujifilm X-T30 it’s screwed onto, unsurprising and sort of OK since I bought the camera to carry along while climbing up and down the Great Wall of China.
And of course it’s manual focus, which makes everything more difficult.
Indeed, I wouldn’t normally take this thing along on an adventure hike. But it seems I never regret setting out with it when I do. Like the sign now says, DO NOT REFUSE.