Moving from 35mm to 50mm!

For the past while I have mostly been taking photographs with a 35mm lens, so much so that I feel very comfortable using this focal length, it seems to suit my documentary style and provides a wide frame within which to arrange the various elements.

Recently I was reminded that Henri Cartier-Bresson invariably photographed with a 50mm lens and that he never cropped photographs.  I decided to take a walk around Belfast’s historic entries with a 50mm Summilux lens and to rely on zone focusing at f8.  “F8 and be there” is attributed to the New York photojournalist Arthur Fellig, although I see that some attribute the quotation to the famous war photojournalist Robert Capa.  This aperture is wide enough to let in sufficient light and small enough to provide adequate depth of field. All I had to worry about was composition!  

As I continue to explore street photography and the rangefinder camera I am finding photography even more enjoyable by just working with one camera body and one prime lens with all the freedom this brings.  However I did find using a 50mm lens a little bit more challenging with its narrower angle of field forcing me to frame more carefully.  On the plus side I did like how the viewfinder on the rangefinder camera allowes you to observe what was entering the leaving the frame.  This added information is really useful.  Also zone focusing does not always produce pin sharp focus at full resolution, something which digital photographers are increasing becoming obsessed with.

Looking back at the famous street photographers who used expensive Leica cameras, they did not capture pixel peeking sharpness!  They instead concentrated on capturing emotion, which is really what photography is about, photographs that tell a story.  In HCB style here are the results of my Belfast entry explorations.

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All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission. 

The Zone System

For this blog I am going back to the last image I exposed this month, its the same location as that featured in my last blog, Strangford Co Down.  But this time I want to look at a more technical aspect of photography; the zone system!

I read in a blog recently “f/8 and be there”, meaning that at f8 you don’t need to prefocus if you use the zone system.  The image featured below was exposed at f8.  My purpose was to follow the footpath right into the distance.  Its not a brilliant image in terms of composition, but it does have excellent depth of field.  By choosing f8 I was assured of capturing a wide depth of field thereby avoiding the need to focus carefully, useful when you need speed to capture the moment.

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In this case I merely focused about one third into the distance down the footpath and to illustrate the clarity achieved I have copied a cropped section of the above image below as follows.  Notice the detail captured in what is a very small portion of the overall frame.

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I was using a 35mm 1.4 lens at f8 and it gave me sharpness across a broad depth of field. I never cease to be amazed at the clarity produced by the Fujifilm X Pro 1.  The Zone System was formulated by the famous American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, its worth Googling the zone system for a more technical explanation.

All images contained on this website remain the property of Roger Bradley. Images may not be downloaded, reproduced, copied, projected, or used in any way without express written permission