Back to Basics: Prime Lens Wandering

March 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

An aspect of photography I tend to neglect in the colder months is just wandering an area, looking for interesting photos with a simple camera setup. Just a body (a Pentax K-5 for me at the moment) and a manual focus prime (non zoom lens) lens AND using manual mode, meaning I use the camera to meter but I set the aperture and shutter speed not the camera automatically.

In the day of automatic everything why do I do that? It puts me back in control. Cell phones are very capable now days, but you have little control, you can change where you stand and choose when to tap the button. Most point and shoot cameras only give you pseudo control at best, not full control. With this setup everything that is both right and wrong with my photo is my fault. Another reason to do this, is to sharpen my creative eye. Whenever I feel like I am in a creative funk, time for photography is limited, and when I carve out the time I feel... nothing. THAT is the time to go back to basics. By limiting myself to the bare minimum of gear I am forced to work harder and really get engaged. I may not take the best photos but I get stuff that is more interesting to me. 

I don't do a good job with my reasoning but if you spend time poking around the net you can find many treatise on why shooting with a prime can be freeing.

Here: This will keep you busy for awhile.

Now onto the business, me and my Pentax SMC 28mm f3.5, given to me by my father in law when I bought my first DSLR, he had had it for a long time, and it was in AMAZING shape. The widest aperture is f3.5, so it doesn't let in lots of light, there are faster lenses for sure. What it has going for it is the tactile elements of using it. Well damped and smooth focus ring movement, similar field of view to how I see (This is a tossup between this lens and my 24mm f2.8 lens depending on the day) best of all it is sharp and rewards careful focusing with good images.

Here are the images I shot in about an hour, in order.

I left the aperture wide open for this photo, wanting a little blur to the background. What brought me to this was the expression on the face of this lion. To me he was worried, as well he should be, part of his face is falling off! I really thought of this as a portrait/still life.

Down the alleyway I found this fun combination of elements, first the hand prints, then the realization of the window opening being twice blocked, the mishmash of uses for this building, the wear on the bricks.

This photo was all about the lines, criss crossing and attaching new things to old things.

Even though the aperture is modest, this lens can still produce nice background blurring wide open, Wanting to isolate this eye level piece of razor wire was a simple task, I turned the focus to the closest spot and then moved myself until the element was in focus.

This building is likely to bring my attention nearly every time I go past it now. Where I have ignored it until this point. The front is very nicely figured stone with columns etc... the side is brick, and weathered paint, scarred from other buildings butting up against it. Much more fun than the front.

This detail was my favorite, I so want to believe that this was horse and buggy parking, but it probably isn't that old. More is the pity. 

This is more than a little busy, but still worth a look, the reflections took several tries to find the right exposure to balance indoors and outdoors.

Did I ever mention that I like old things? Yeah I do, the details make me happy and warm inside. I have to mention that standing in the middle of the street and looking up to take pictures is only a good idea on a DESERTED street, especially when you lose your balance and fall backwards....

I found another stone portrait to take, old Sam here is on the steps of the Federal Courthouse, he is kind of looking into my soul.

Sam has a brother with no name, I liked this shot the most of all the shots I took that day, I will let you look and see if you see it.


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