at the bigginig of my photography years aho, i had only normal lense on my pentax mx (i was still teen and had no money). i have learned to visualize on it and more than that i have learned to express with one lense. than i had the tlr (rolleiflex) which i loved very much. again with only one normal lense i understand even deeper how well i can work with only one lense. on the contax slr i had few lenses, but i found it so difficult to make serious works on it, and always when i was pushed to do serious work among all the lenses the plannar 50mm was the chooice. not that i have made bad pics with 28 or 85, but i felt much better when working with the plannar.
since then i have developed. i use lots of lenses. the choice of the lense for the job is upon my mood. for example.. if i am on the street and observe the street from the "outside = not really involoved" than i take a normal lenses. if i feel more involved i just go very close and i use a realy wide one. i dont really change during the picture taking. i just feel what i feel when i take photos and that way i choose the lense. the same i can say for everything, including studio works, nude, portraits etc.
about the visualization with the lenses...
basically there are two important points here and one more point deals with the concept behind using different lenses....
one is the field of view, and the second is the optical/geometrical effects.
our eyes has a very wide field of view, but not everything from this field comes to our intentionality. when we see something we are concentrated on some area in the field of our view. besically there is a concentration on the specific object, or a sensation of the space. if u have the technica than take the viewfinder and start experimanting with it and u will see how well it works. just change the focal lenghts and view through it. do it for fun (not in photo session). what i say is that if one is conscious enough of this mental process, he will know intuitively what lense will make this work.
but here is the second thing... the optical geometrical aspects of the lenses. here it is u who have to learn the view point of the lense cause it is defferent from our yeys. of course sometimes u have to make compromisses, for example when i stand very very close to what i want to photograph and want to give a real sesnse of space but because of the natural arangement of what i see i want to avoid some optical geometrical effects of very wide lense. it is more critical when u use rangefinder or any other camera without movements.
finally, this is not all about technical approach of what lense to choose etc. choosing those lenses etc has their outcome (on the print), and that what really counts at the end.
Some random thoughts on this thread,
It is all about the attitude of the craftsman. There are always those who will use equipment as an excuse. They don't have good enough lenses, or the view camera doesn't have the right movements, or if only they had a Leica instead of an SLR they could get better shots.
It has always been a curious thing I notice with woodworking hobbyists. They fall into 2 camps. One group expects the machines to do the work and only if they had the next better planer or jointer, this saw or that they could really make some nice pieces. the other camp is the guys (or gals) who are using the same machines for 30 years or do a lot of the work by hand. They produce beuatiful pieces of furniture and art. What they have is knowledge and patience and their emphasis is on the work and not the tools.
A great number of people who call themselves photographers concern themselves far to much with the acquiring of gear to get the perfect "rig" instead of making photographs.
Anyone who is serious about phtography should be required to choose one camera, one lens, one film, one developer and one paper and have to use them exclusively for one year. I can almost gaurantee you that you will have one of 2 outcomes. One will be someone who is serious about photography and has become comfortable with his gear. Why? Because he realized that the image is what is important. learning to see is what is important and knowing your materials so well that you can see a final print when the exposure is made is important.
The other outcome is someone who quickly becomes bored and gives it up because he is more about the gear. That does not mean that he cannot over time make great photographs, but in searching for the most comfortable gear he cheats himself out of the time it takes to get there.
in my view there are two camps of picture making process. one is to capture the moment that tells us visual story, and the other is to create a story.
u can do both on the pentax mx with 50mm lense. the most important, the prime etc developments of mine were made on this camera. those images of past are still an inspiration to me. i see there the naive teen, and he makes me to think a lot. but then i had some money so why not to go on the ziess lenses. belive me - the quality speacks for itself. when u plus it to that teen who used pentax it looks much better. then i understoond that point of picture taking - to capture or to create. it was evident to me. the rf gave me that freedom to see. i see through it as i see with the naked eye. when i print it it looks like that. the viewcamera... how can u compare creating vissual story with camera with movements with the camera without even if it is with zeiss glasses.
take a leica for one year with two sumicrons 35 and 50, and very soon u will get how different this lenses are - they let u react in other way, and u study to use them. i rarely change lenses during photographing, i choose them cause i feel some way or another. i see on the print what i feel.
about c.h.bresson... he is one of the kings of photo for me... but u know, we have to study, always love and repect him, and go on for new images.
sorry, but if u want to go to the higest levels u can u have to realize that there are good reasons why to use thios or that. u know, sprinter cannot be a very good long distance runner and diffender in soccer cannot really be a striker. i think u take a bit wrong the use of different equipment, but it is very romantic.
Well, maybe I mis-read your original post a little. I think we're essentially going after the same thing, though. I was mainly trying to get at that both sides of the equation are equally important.
Originally Posted by dnmilikan
I quite agree about having to shoot with one camera, one lens, one film for one year. Honestly, I've never done this in any official way, but it's always how things have worked out. Back when I was still shooting 35mm, I had two Nikon bodies and six really nice primes. But what happened? I shot at least 95% of my stuff with the F4 body and a 50mm lens and Tri-X rated at 200. The other 5 lenses just acted as ballast in the bag. At this point I don't shoot 35 any more, but the preference for sticking to one lens and one film is still there. Working that way has, I think, taught me a hell of a lot more about photography and my vision than you could get if constantly switching lenses, films, camera bodies, etc.
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There is nothing wrong with buying better equipment to improve ones craft or to be able to better present ones vision. I just think it makes more sense to know what one is about as a photographer instead of hoping the gear will do it for you. When you went to a Leica I imagine that you were well on your way to a personal style and vision. As you pointed out, the RF just further supports your way of seeing.
i thought u presented a person of that kind that buys a collection of ferraris mclarens and aten martins and thinks that by putting it in his garage he will be schumacher.
well, im not rich enough to buy cameras and lenses for fun or just to try if it works and if not than put it on the shelf. most of my prints i dont even sell cause i dont want. many of them are personal to me and many of them are too personal for people i photograph (i thank those people that let me permission to exhebit it). im not really in comercial as well. fully art and joy, that why i use mechanical cameras and i breath al those bromophens fixers and seleniums.
i have love affairs with my equipment and materials cause together we create. those things are not an items with logos and names.
the agfa apx speaks in its languge to my eyes, the ilford plus in its own. rodinal has its voice, and the id11 and the pyro its own voices. we are emotional people. i associate my emotions with apx or ilford etc. same i can say with the lenses.
what i photograph depends on the objects and space there, but how i do it depends on my emotional or rational relation to it. there (in how i do it) comes the body (rf or view camera) lense combination, film and paper etc.
You won't find many "gadgetophiles" here - they're all out shooting their new d*g*t*l SLR's. I believe that most of us here realise that the latest, newest technology isn't going to help us make better pictures. But we may be less certain about the effect of a 100year old, extra large and heavy camera with a lens of the same vintage...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
i dont really understand what u r up ole
I hve been home watching the kids today and editied my last post probably before you posted. So that may seem confusing.
I hope you don't think I am one of the Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes garage storing types with camera gear. I am so cheap that I build my own LF cameras. That way I can afford film and paper and chemistry. But I know of some poeple like that. They would rather talk about the equipment they just bought then show any work that they have done.
I like your characterization of materials. They all seem to take on special personal qualities for me to. And it is true that sometimes we can become smitten with somethng new and exotic, that entices us away from what has become common place. I guess sometimes you devlop a harem, sometimes you just leave the old girl behind and sometimes you return to your original love, wiser and more appreciative. (these comments in no way relate to my personal life!).