The language of light and long lenses

Driven by some traffic on a Instagram postI have to think about…long glasses.

For some, it’s a no-fly zone. Go north of the wall. “It” lives in the sewer. Riding Shai-Hulud. Whatever, I’m off topic.

The avoidance is understandable. Telephoto cameras, especially long ones, used to be heavy, bulky, and often required moving along a tripod. They are forbidden, for example, to the street photographer, who must maintain light, speed and live as seamlessly as possible to the rhythm of whatever life is being observed, always looking for context. scene. It’s not usually a studio-applied tool. It’s also not a super essential to bring to a wedding.

I’m generalizing here, there are always exceptions. After all, this is photography, and just when you think you’ve organized and systematized your toolkit, you have that eureka moment that says, “This is all I need!” you find yourself looking over the valley as the setting sun illuminates the dust trails from wild ponies running free. Or the police put you behind a barricade three blocks from the footpath. And you start thinking about that 400 number. Or, in the case of the Chrysler Building below, a 800mm.

It’s a chore, long glass. But often what you lose in context, you make up for in impact. Absolute graphic impact. I grew up in photography in an era where the use of long glasses and the ability to focus was a great distance. Amazing photos like Walter Iooss, Fraudulent invoices, and Heinz Kluetmeier there’s manual focus radar to overcome the limitation of bulky tools like glasses that aren’t as polished and fast as they are now. The inner converging lens is just a developing species. It worked, and practiced. (And believe me, no matter how much I practice, you still want Heinz to sit out, not me.)

But long glasses allow you to be a surgeon with one lens, cutting out graphic parts and pieces of a scene. I took thousands and thousands of frames of the Statue of Liberty. Here is my favorite look at her. Nikon D750 with 800mm lens.

The long, physically bulky lens allows you to speak more clearly in the scene, depending on the situation. For example, the banner photo above was taken with Nikkor 200-500mmover 500 million.

Below, with a different quality of light, same morning, taken with that lens at 340mm.

Again, different light, Nikkor 300mm vertically for the portrait below.

And, given the fact that that lens can focus up close, a detail.

I carried the long glass with me even though it wasn’t very practical. Here are 600 from Huey’s open door. Pax River NAS, when the V-22 Osprey was in test rotation. It’s an old school six, and there’s a lot to manage from that oscillating background.

Luckily, the new long glasses are made from wonderfully lightweight materials, are super weatherproof (always a historical issue with older telephoto cameras), and are sharp and quick to focus. Allows you to focus on framing and holding, as well as decoding the scene in front of you and which part of it you will cut.

I’m always asked for tips, techniques, and anything that requires a lot of practice. But there are a few basic things that have not changed. Bring as much of your body as possible (center of gravity) under the lens. In my case, being left-eyed, I bring my left foot forward, almost like a boxing position. My left elbow is closed, making contact with my chest and abdomen. It doesn’t come out like chicken wings. I turned the camera on at a high frame rate. Long glass, especially from an unstable platform like a chopper, is the time to get the most out of the actuation.

And yes, I realize that long glasses come with a cost. But today there are so many options, nothing is the same anymore! We had a fixed number of 300, 400 or 600. Now you have 80-400, 70-200 teleconverters,…a bunch of really telephoto lenses. And….there are no boundaries for long glasses in the mirrorless world. If anything, give me Z9a lens like 100-400 f4.5-5.6 extremely sharp, perfectly suited to eye-detection autofocus.

And of course, remember to bring wide glasses. 😉 Below is a 19mm tilting paddle shifter.

It’s exciting to think back to a great job in France and a beautiful day in the fields…literally!

More tk…

Item The language of light and long lenses appeared first on Photographer Joe McNally.


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