Have you ever thought of restricting yourself to just one lens for an entire shoot? How about shooting for an entire day with a prime, fixed zoom lens in an environment where you know a variable zoom lens would probably be the best route.
Recently I put myself to this challenge while visiting Sauder Village, a historic village representing turn of the century artisans and farms. As I was exiting the car, I realized I really didn’t want to lug my camera bag around, knowing I would just continually switch lenses for different situations. My first thought was to take my 24-105mm lens knowing it would give the most flexibility.
I then realized that I would take my 50mm f/1.8 lens for a few reasons. I knew that I would get sharper images in the end, and on top of that I would be able to shoot in lower light inside the houses with an f/1.8 over the f/4 of my 24-105mm lens.
With that in mind, I took off with the 50mm attached to my camera.
Taking and Succeeding on a One Lens Challenge
After making the decision to use just the one prime lens, I took it as a challenge to not get frustrated and come out with some good shots. Here is a list of the things I learned, along with previous learnings that helped me throughout the day.
1. Your Best Lens is the One You Have Available
With just one lens available while I was traveling throughout the village there was never a thought in my mind to change lenses. I couldn’t, plain and simple, which leads me to my first point.
While working with just one lens, whichever lens is on your camera is the best one you have available. I know that is kind of a mute point, since you only have one option, but the point is to embrace the situation and make it work, which ever way you can.
Going into this ‘experiment’ I had my doubts but it really makes you look at things from a new perspective. Many times you will be too close to an object, sometimes too far away and it tests both patients and composition. Still getting correct composition is the biggest challenge you will face.
2. Look for a Different Angle
As I previously discussed, many times you are too close to your subject. Embrace this fact and look for a new and exciting angle.
You may need to get higher, lower or move to another area of the room to get a great photo. This really stretches your creative mind, forcing you to look at things from a different perspective. This will heighten your senses and can truly make you a more creative photographer. If things are rough at first, keep with it and you will eventually start to see things in a different light.
3. Don’t Forget Composition
Many times throughout the day I would look through my view finder and discover that i couldn’t get the right composition on my subject from the position I was currently in. Don’t just snap the photo anyway, just because that is initially what you are given.
Look for different ways to fit the subject into your frame. Even if you have to cut out some of the subject you are photographing, composition still comes into play.
Take the gears photograph below. With just my 50mm available and being confined to a tight space I was unable to get the entire machine within the frame. Instead of leaving without a photo, I was able to get in close, concentrate on one area of the machine (one particular gear) and produce a shot with decent composition.
So the next time you only have one lens available (or if you choose to take the one lens challenge) remember to slow down, don’t panic and that there is always a photo out there. Just find the right angle, tell a great story and you will continue to produce great photography works.