Composition Exercise with a 50mm lens (Part 1)

Here’s an exercise for you which i think will really make you stretch your creativity and think pretty hard about the pictures that you’re gonna take. What i’m going to ask you to do, is to set your lens to fifty millimeters and to leave it there and to not zoom. What i mean by that, so for example we’ve got an ocean liner over there, and on a day like this it’s really miserable and grey, but most often you would come down here and go oh, ocean liner put the camera to your eye zoom in and try and fill the frame as much as you can and take the a picture. I’ve only got a seventy mill lens on here, so that’s a bit rubbish anyway. But if your lens is fixed at fifty then the best you’re going to be able to achieve is going to be that, and as you can see the ship is very very small. So a shot like that really wouldn’t work, even if the sun was shining and everything was beautiful, you’d have to crop in a lot. part of this exercises no cropping
allowed you can put your pictures into the computer and brighten them a bit or darken them a bit or give the colours a little tweak but that’s kind of acceptable but no
cropping this is about learning to compose your shots in the camera in the view finder and to stretch your creativity with this fifty mil lens. why is fifty so difficult? fifties difficult because it how we see
the world with our eyes. if you look at a picture like this one which was taken using a two hundred
millimeter lens which has a very different way of seeing the world
to the way our eyes do, combined with a wide aperture which has given it a shallow depth of field the image is immediately eye catching. And it’s the same if you use a wide angled shot, it’s different to how we see the world with our eyes. So, to get interesting images with your focal length set at fifty millimeters is more of a challenge, but particularly on a very dull day like this, and i will erg you to try it out on a dull day, you might not come home with staggering pictures but it will really make you start looking and thinking about pictures you’re taking. how do you set this? well on your zoom ring all you have to do is turn the barrel of the lens until you hit fifty millimeters you line the little dot up and that’s fifty millimeters, so you’ve set it there, and you leave it there. if you don’t have the focal length of your lens written on
the barrel ring, because i know some lenses don’t, then don’t get too hung over, it doesn’t have to be fifty all i’m gonna do is suggest you zoom it out a bit and whatever is at it’s shortest, widest angle zoom it out a little bit and and and leave it at that, the main thing is, don’t zoom it. You’ve got a fifty mil prime lens, put it on because then it’s no question about zooming. if you think you’re going to be unable to control yourself because we
are so used to lifting our cameras up and zooming in and out, and you think that you’re not going to be able to stop yourself doing it, here’s a little thing, get yourself a roll of tape and just wrap a little piece of tape around it, set it to fifty mil and wrap it around it with some tape and then you can’t zoom it. Then you’ve gotta move yourself around and start thinking about your shots. So let’s go and have a little go, let’s go and find some. okay There’s a wide open scene and it won’t work on a dull day the thing to do is to sort of close down in and start looking at smaller detail, and i really rather like this, that somebody has sort of breaded a piece of string through some twigs and made this little thing for their beach hut, i kinda like i think it’s quite nice. So let’s have a look, because it’s quite different let’s see, let’s have a go at photographing it. So I’ve got my lens, my fifty millimeters as always and let’s think of different ways to take a picture of this. I can sort of look at it, at a sort of an angle, like this, now i like that straight away. I’m tilting the camera very slightly and sort of looking down, and i quite like the sea shell on the top actually, and oh i like that i like the post, running down here to the sea shell, and the string and the wood below it. So i’m going to sort of look down on it. I’m going to focus here on the sea shell fifty millimeters and nothing else, and just sort of go for a shot like that. and it’s just a bit different, a bit
interesting, let’s see one of the whole thing, to do that no zooming remember, you’re not allowed to touch that zoom. And so i need to get myself into a position to see what it looks like, line it up. Now most people would sort of look at something and go ‘ oh look’ isn’t that interesting and take that picture. which is absolutely boring and dull, and dreadful isn’t it? You have to think, you have to move yourself around a bit, so let’s see, i quite like the way these timber, these little pieces off wood here go from side to side. But we’ve got all of these up rights of the beach huts. So let’s see if i can get a shot looking along it so we can sort of see something beach hut-y but there’s also this little thing at the bottom of the shot, let’s just shoot down a little let’s get focused on that and onto the, it’s almost like a little native american totem sort of thing isn’t it. i quite like that, let’s go for that. Just about there, yes i quite like that. I could even get closer to it, and do another one looking along that way with the camera landscape instead of upright, this is all about experimentation this
isn’t one ways right and one ways wrong, it’s just experimentation. Let’s just focus on those let’s just try it a bit higher up, that’s nice, let’s go with one of those. i think that’s pretty cool

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