Day 151: Embracing the mundane

When I first picked up a camera with the intention of learning about photography (as opposed to idly snapping in ignorance), one of the first things that became obvious was that there was potential for a photograph in everything. The next thing I learned was that not everything makes a photo at once. You learn to respond to light, and part of that is recognising that you can walk past something 100 times and ignore it. One day, you’ll walk past it and it will take on an entirely new character. It’s not always easy to bring that across, but it’s usually worth a shot, so to speak. It’s this sort of shot that we use to hone our skills, as you aren’t often likely to get a good result with automatic metering. You have to consider the extremes, choose the features that you want to give prominence to, and adjust accordingly in response to the capabilities of your equipment.

I’ve learned that the Tamron 18-270 PZD handles exposure slightly differently to my other lenses when I’m dealing with high extremes of contrast, as in the example here. It’s not especially bad for flare spots, which is quite surprising for a zoom lens with such a large range and 18 elements. However, this does mean that when you shoot more or less in the direction of the sun, the overall contrast is reduced, particularly in the farthest reaches of the lens. I presume that this is something to do with the relatively small size of the front element giving a proportionally large, elliptical dispersal of the light. Shooting directly towards the sun on a clear day is less likely to give a clearly defined circle as my other lenses, and has slightly larger areas of burn-out than my more expensive lenses. In other circumstances this may be viewed as a problem, but I am now trying to use my awareness of this to enhance the mood of shots like this one. By placing the sun just out of shot (no more than a couple of degrees), I can use the flare to give a soft, warm glow to images. So what we are left with is a shot that isn’t so much about the edge of ¬†field as it is the mood of the morning, and the environmental conditions on the day. It’s not really a photo of anything, and yet it’s one which speaks volumes about local land use and relief. I’ve said before that it’s the little imperfections, and how they work for you, that have made me fall for this lens, because I have to work harder to get more from it. If you need further evidence of this, ask Holga or Lomo users what they love about their equipment. Character matters.

Nikon D300; Tamron 18-270mm PZD @ 50mm; ISO 400; F/8; 1/125s. VC on.

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