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I've got a zoom lens on my camera right now. I actually brought a whole bag full of zoom lenses on this trip. I don't have a single fixed focus or prime lens. Zoom lenses are so great for lightening your bag, and keeping your shoulder from hurting and these are really high-quality zoom lenses. I get really nice image quality. That said, I will say that the zoom lens is probably your biggest impediment to learning composition, for the simple reason that they make you lazy. I am standing here. I see that thing over there. I go wow look at that thing over there, and I zoom into it and I take my shot and maybe it's a fine shot.
But I haven't moved around. I haven't a really worked it, and yeah I can step over here and over here, but that's not working the shot. So I would like to put it to you to try this assignment. Choose a single focal length and spend the day shooting with it. And I don't mean this casually, I mean either get a fixed focus lens and put it on your camera, or if you have a zoom lens choose a focal length, for example, I am 50 right now, get some tape and tape your zoom ring down so that you cannot move your lens and don't cheat, don't take the tape off while you're our shooting and you may think why would I do that. I've got this nice zoom lens that gives me all this flexibility.
The reason you do that is now you go out and you see that thing over there and you go wow look at that thing over there, and you start to frame your shot and you go oh its too far away, then you have to move closer. You have no choice, you have to get your feet moving, and once you get over there, you're probably going to see that the relationships of the objects are different. You've got a very different scene and maybe it's a better scene, maybe it's a worse. Maybe you need to move somewhere else, maybe it turns out you need a different focal length, at least you'll know. Now try a few days of doing this, try and very wide-angle focal length like 24, then go a little tighter to 35, then 50, then 70, then 100. And spend an entire day shooting only with that focal length.
I think you'll find that this gives you a better understanding of the characteristics of a particular focal length. I think you'll get a better understanding of what wide angle can be used for, what telephoto can be used for, how focal length gives you a different approach to different subject matter. And mostly you'll feel that when you're really working a shot, it means you're moving around a lot. You are not being lazy, your feet are moving.
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