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Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens

I love my zoom lens. I've got several zoom lenses.

Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens

I love my zoom lens. I've got several zoom lenses. They're mostly what I shoot with. But you gotta be careful with them because they will make you lazy. Here's what I mean. Got some nice subject matter over there. I can stand here and take a picture of it, and maybe go, Oh, really, to get the composition I want, I need to get a little bit closer. Oh, I don't have to walk over there. I can just zoom in. Well, there's a difference. The picture that I get from standing back here and zooming in is very different from the picture that I get when I walk closer and zoom out. If you watched Foundations of Photography: Lenses, you should know all about this.

So, I want you, if you're willing, to try an exercise here. If you, like me, mostly shoot with a zoom lens, stop. Now you can do that either by going and buying an expensive prime lens. Or, you can just promise yourself that you're going to go out shooting at a particular focal length and you're never going to zoom. So, for example, I'm going to go easy on myself today. I typically like shooting at wider angles, so I'm going to set my zoom lens here at 35 millimeters.

Just to be sure, maybe I'll get a little piece of tape or something, and tape it down. And I'm going to spend the entire day shooting just at 35 millimeters. Maybe I'll spend the entire week shooting at 35 millimeters. Give yourself a particular assignment. Give yourself a particular deadline and stick to it for that time. Do like I've just done, pick a focal length that you're pretty comfortable with and do that for a few days. Then challenge yourself. Pick one that you never shoot at. I rarely shoot telephoto. I rarely shoot with a really long focal length, so I might go out to 105. Take that down and shoot that way for awhile if you never shoot very wide then go to the other end and shoot like that for awhile.

I think what your going to find is that you have to move a lot more then your use to. Rather than just being able to zoom in, you're going to have to walk places. And what that's going to do is force you to work your shot a lot. It's going to force you to move, and really think about your composition, and find new things. So give it a try. Set your zoom lens on a fixed focal length. Or borrow a prime lens. If you have one, stick it on. And shoot exclusively with that for a few days. Challenge yourself. Go to the difficult focal lengths, go to the easy ones. And see what it feels like when you're out being forced to walk around.

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This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

68 video lessons · 42340 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 3m 28s
    1. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 6h 42m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s

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