Well. It’s a fairly loose application of the word, but that’s the brand that’s been given to the petting zoo in the local garden centre. But when the weather’s poor, and you’re starting to feel the constraints of your own four walls, it’s one way to fill your lungs with some fresh air.
There’s a distinct advantage to using fast lenses for shooting captive animals, regardless of the weather. Since a wide aperture comes with a shallow depth of field, you can all but eliminate any fencing between you and your subject, provided you can get fairly close to the fence and there’s a bit of distance between the wire and whatever you’re photographing.
Longer lenses are generally preferable, but I thought I’d see what was possible using my standard telephoto, the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD. It’s a fantastically sharp lens, and like every other Tamron lens I’ve ever used, works best at closer focusing distances. So for a task like this, it’s brilliant. I could isolate the depth of field to almost eliminate the fences (you may spot the linear aberrations caused by the diffraction of light around the wires) , and capture some really finely detailed close ups.
Call me strange, but I think chickens make great photographic subjects. There’s a lot of detail around the eyes, and it’s funny to me to think that dinosaurs evolved into these idiots. I loved the mock prune that’s balanced on this one’s beak.
The ability to isolate your depth of field is one of my favourite things about faster lenses, as it has the effect of reducing the impact of visual clutter, even when you want to include more in your photos.
I finished my trip in the aquatics shop. The close working distance of the Tamron 24-70 meant that I didn’t need a macro lens to get some interesting images, and the built-in stabiliser made all the difference when trying to get a detailed shot. To paraphrase George Orwell,
All 24-70 lenses are equal.
But some are more equal to the task than others.