Day 12: 28mm in 28 days

When you go to the fair there is the usual shot, especially with this lens, of the midway rides, the crowds, and the games. Those are wonderful and play to the strengths this lens is marketed as but what if we push it? What if we forget what this lens is "designed" to do and use it to take the pictures we want in any situation. So, I did just that today at the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, WA. Enjoy!

Notice the pure excitement on the boy child. HAHAHAHA!!! 

I love how much context and detail I get within a single frame with this lens. It is so clear with wonderful control of depth of field blur.

In a crowd the ability for this lens to be unobtrusive on the camera body, able to provide environmental context, get into a space and show the entire scene is amazing. I love this lens for documentarian, photo journalistic type shooting. It is fast, light, sharp, and just a joy to shoot with. I never thought I would find it so versatile. I have been proven wrong and continue to fall more and more in love with it.  

Day 11: 28mm in 28 days

A day at the beach is a huge affair with this little lens. It matters not if you are shooting vast landscapes that expand the actual size of the space or shooting macro type photography of a colorful plant on a cliff face, this lens continues to amaze. Enjoy the photos from our day at the beach with the 28mm. Not much to say about the lens but, wow does it take a space and expand it! I love it!


Day 10: 28mm in 28 days

In real estate it is location, location, location and with this 28mm I'm learning it is environment, environment, environment. One thing I love about this little guy is it brings in the location and environment so easily in a shot. Take the three shots that follow, they are of my youngest playing on a play structure. Now with a 50mm or 85mm you could get some great shots of reactions, details, and him playing but that sense of place would be tough to get unless you back pretty far up. But even then I still struggle with getting that true sense of being in the scene because the scene gets compressed and it feels voyeuristic. This lens solves that. I can stay close, get shots that really put the viewer into the scene and still get some good action, reaction, and playful shots. Do watch your distortion though if you choose this lens for close shots. It can get a little odd when photographing people, as I have mentioned in a previous post but get out and have fun with it.

Here you can see some distortion (the railing and support columns are falling away and leaning in) partly from me shooting up at Miller but also a little from the lens. I am willing to live with this slight tilting of the image because it adds to the space. I also want as much of those blue columns in the scene as possible to give an overall color balance to the striking yellow and green.

Yeah, I know, the flag is sprouting from his head. I think it is funny and when you are photographing a fast moving four year old with Angelman Syndrome you take the shots you can get. 

Day 9: 28mm in 28 days

"Its a beautiful day today kids! Let's go explore some beautiful art deco styled buildings," I said at breakfast. The kids just stared at me. "We might also go swimming in the lake." "YAY!!!!" they screamed and were ready to go in less than 5 minutes. But really I just needed the kids there for scale because the 28mm does such an amazing job at creating vast landscapes that we the viewer lose that sense of scale. We see the side of a building or a waterfall and we think, "That looks great. I wonder how big or small it is though?" 

As in this shot. The 28mm really allows me to create an image with a lot of real estate in the frame. I love that about this lens but the doors needed just a little something extra. That is where the kids come in. I send them over to stand in front of the doors and viola, those doors just got a whole lot larger. 

Here is the same hanger with the sensor flipped to portrait to get that great detail at the top of the wall. I am still exploring with this lens in portrait. I haven't fully found where it will be useful in the portrait orientation but for a shot like this it isn't bad.

I expected some distortion on the lower parts of these two images because I was shooting up at a pretty decent angle. As you can see there is very little. An architecture lens for sure. I just love the restored lettering above the entrance of this lower image. Art deco in the Northwest is very rare so when it is restored I'm just drawn to it. 

Day 8: 28mm for 28 days

I like to joke that when I need a model to test lighting or a newly learned feature on my camera or a lens I grab the youngest of our 5 kids, throw him in his highchair, give him food and start shooting. Well, it really isn't a joke as you will soon see. 

The 28mm isn't a portrait lens, of course not, but it does have its place when taking portraits. What I mean is it isn't a portrait lens in the traditional sense. You aren't going to reach for this lens when you want to flatter a client, show off a bride, or make an insecure high school senior lover their pictures. That I know but I find myself liking the lens for photographing kids in informal ways. If you look back at Day 1: 28mm in 28 days you'll see pictures of my daughter and they aren't that badly distorted. Here is Miller and again, the distortion to his facial features, where we expect the extreme distortion to occur, isn't there. Why? Well, they are kids. Their features are smaller, less pronounced, so when they get stretched it doesn't look horrid. 

In this traditional, straight on shot you can see the lens opening up his eyes a bit more and pulling his nose toward us. All the things we hate on adults all of a sudden isn't bad on a child. 

But here is where it gets fun and what I mean by, not a portrait lens in the traditional sense. It is great if you want to really get they viewer into the action. If you want to convey an uneasiness or off kilter perspective in your shot. Get low, get high, put the center of the lens on a feature that will look odd when ballooned out. Here it is on his lips so his mouth is way too big for his face. It works though because of the look in his eyes, the confusion you can see on his face is also in the frame and how it is shot. 

The paparazzi shot and the "adult" perspective this lens was made for them. It gets so much of the environment without having to be on the second floor balcony and puts you right into the action. Of course to get the paparazzi shot as the camera man I was actually right in the action. In order to look like you are close with this lens you have to be twice as close in reality. It is a risky job getting close to sticky fingers but I do it for you guys.

Day 6: 28mm for 28 days

I am finding out how very close I need to get to my subject to not let the focal point be lost. I am also learning to isolate and seek out simplified compositions where color and lines dictate the motion of the eye. I can see the lens working so well creating beautiful environmental portraits of back lit couples. Now I just need to find a couple that will let me take some epic images of them. Bueller...Bueller...

Day 5: 28mm for 28 days

Large skies, vistas, and strong leading lines is what this lens begs for! It urges for low vantage points and the opportunity to take a mundane space and transform it into more.

I am noticing the quality of the 28mm to take the center and push it away from the camera. It tends to lengthen anything perpendicular to the lens face. Parallel lines do not warp out from that center push. This is very nice for architectural elements and I can see why its favored by architecture photographers. 

Day 4: 28mm for 28 days

Walking along the docks in Kenmore I realized this lens can take an ordinary scene and add something epic to it. It tends to somehow stretch, lengthen, and elongate in every way the space before it  without distortion. I don't know how it is done but I am loving it. Scenes from the docks of the sky and the marina are stunning with the 28mm. Some would say this is its bread and butter, distant focal points and sweeping views. I am not convinced. I will say this, it does create sweeping views where not a one exists. 

Of course the leading lines and the clouds help to add depth to this shot but still the lens does push the center out a bit and creates a landscape that tends to just go on and on. 

A simple marina in a small town becomes so much more with the 28mm. I am not quite sure what it is but it just seems to add that little bit of umph that pushes it past a pretty picture to a second glance type image. I'm really liking this feature I have stumbled upon. 

Of course I wouldn't be allowed in the professional photographers club if I didn't play a bit with the depth of field. 

Day 3: 28mm for 28 days

A day at the park. The kids and I decided to make it a fun afternoon at the park exploring and seeing if the fish were biting. The 28mm didn't disappoint. Something I am loving about the lens is its compactness. It is so small, so light, and as I discovered today it is teaching me how to use it. I am learning (or relearning as the case may be) to really create fore, middle, and back ground to my images. 

Just a simple picture of play structures takes on a whole new feel with this lens. The amount of environmental placement it commands is stunning. It forces me to create a sense of place in the picture.

Capturing action of a very active kid is no problem with this lens and getting enough environment to place them in the scene is never an issue. 

I realized today I am learning how to get the most out of this beautiful 28mm. It's size, its lack of weight, and its reliable quality has me not hesitating one bit to grab my camera and go play. Yeah, you have to get close to your subject at times but I think that is a lot of the joy. Get close, get to know them better. But, as we shall see tomorrow, making images from a distance can create drama unsurpassed in even the most common of places. 

Day 2: 28mm for 28 days

Decided to try the lens in spaces it is supposed to shine, architectural locations. Snohomish downtown at a few antique stores. The interiors begged to be photographed and hopefully I didn't disappoint. As I've come to expect the 28mm did not disappoint. It gave me an amazingly full view with no distortion. 

Interior of a basement antique shop.

Interior of a basement antique shop.

Interior of basement antique shop.

Interior of basement antique shop.

It just seemed like it was begging for a little toning.

It just seemed like it was begging for a little toning.

I ended the shoot with a close up of an old Underwood typewriter. The depth of field is okay wide open but I had to be super close to the keys for this shot. Lens face was perhaps 4 inches from the first row if keys. Again, I am blown away even in this shot with no distortion! Crazy awesome!

Day 1: 28mm for 28 days

Side note: To be fair to the lens, camera, and challenge myself I will not crop any images shown throughout this exercise. I will do minor tweaking in Lightroom of highlights and shadows but that is all the editing that will be done. And now, back to the show. 

I began this journey at the Bellevue Arts Museum where my kids and I decided to spend a few hours. No better place, I thought, to test the angle of the lens. At 28mm its angle of view is very wide and I quickly learned I could get very, very close to my subject and still get stuff in the frame I didn't want. 

Of course my biggest concern with getting that close was distortion. Sure Canon claims minimal to no distortion but come on, being less than 3 feet from my subject there had to be some distortion...right? I am seeing very little but I'll let the images speak for themselves. 

For this piece of artwork by Bren Ahearn I am standing maybe 4 feet from it. It is a canvas measuring 3.5' x 5' in size and the lines are straight, no bubbling in the center, and of course beautiful light transition capture. That vignetting is all due to the single light illuminating the piece and the power of the lens and camera. 

These two shots were done inside a silo structure on the roof of BAM. At approximately 7' in diameter and 15' tall this cone shaped structure was cozy. Here again I am standing very close to Penelope and again I am super impressed with how little distortion there is. The top image is looking straight up inside the cone and nothing is looking weird. 

It seems I am going to need to push this lens a bit more to find some weaknesses. Right now I am seeing what I expect from Canon, just pure quality both in lack of distortion in a wide angle and superior light capture. 

Day 0: 28mm for 28 days

For nearly 13 years I have shot with Canon crop sensor cameras. I cut my photography teeth on film, shooting medium format and 35mm but those days all I worried about was learning the exposure triangle. My foray into digital began with a Canon digital rebel 300d. This silver beauty was 6.3 mp of pure amazingness when it came on the scene. I had no idea at the time what a crop sensor was, that there were even different sensor sizes, or what I would do with a bigger one. What I did know is I needed quality glass so I always saved for the best I could afford completely unaware there were lenses created for the different sized sensors I didn't know existed. 

My first digital camera. Oh, it was a dream! "Why would anyone need over 6.3 mp?"

My first digital camera. Oh, it was a dream! "Why would anyone need over 6.3 mp?"


Time marched on as it does and I bumped up into the Canon t5i. Still a crop sensor. Me still having no idea what that meant...until one day I did know what that meant. I learned there is such a thing as different sized sensors and lenses created for full frame sensors (35mm sensors) acted differently on the smaller sensors. So my 50mm was acting like an 85mm on my t5i but I needed a 50mm! Solution: Grab a 28mm, and so I did just that. 

Now that I have bumped up to a Canon 6D with a full frame sensor all of my glass is acting very different. I see the 28mm looking forlorn at me each time I open my case as I reach past it to the 70mm-200mm. Even my 50mm is getting more use than my old partner. What I thought I knew has been turned on its head! I knew it would happen. I expected a learning curve but this is like being a parent for the first time. You may have grown up with younger siblings, worked in a daycare, say at every opportunity, "I love kids." but then you have your own and its just not quite the same. I don't know where to stand, how much I will get in the shot, what I should have my aperture set to in order to get the bokeh I really want. I am chimping more than a jungle safari and feeling a bit out of sorts. 

Solution: Practice! So begins 28mm for 28 days. I want to see where my workhorse, my old go-to lens for tight spots fits into my full frame arsenal. I will push myself as an artist, push the limits of this lens, discover where it shines and is a bit dull by shooting with the shortest lens in my case. Come along for the journey as I take a walk on the wide side. 

Arrive early and carry your camera!

I had a meeting out at Alki yesterday and as is customary for me I arrived early. In this case a few hours early just to beat traffic and enjoy a quiet beach, so I thought. As I was driving past the beach looking for a parking space I look over and see nearly 100 dugout longboats on the beach! It was amazing! I quickly found a spot to park and hustled over to capture some great images, meet some amazing people, and watch them launch out into the Puget Sound and paddle Southward. 

Always arrive early and carry your camera is all I kept thinking. I had driven out to the beach early thinking I was going to get some nice beach and sunrise scenes, perhaps see a few morning swimmers. I was pleasantly surprised and so glad I was prepared.