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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