I went for a short hike in the high country of Colorado the other day. It has been a magnificent week of blue, blue skies and ever more golden forests as the aspens continue to turn yellow, gold and even orange.
For this walk I brought just one camera and one lens- a 35mm f1.8 (the equivalent of a 52mm with the 1.5 crop factor on my Nikon D300s)- and nothing else. I would’ve brought a polarizing filter and a tripod but I didn’t bring them with me from Vermont because this was a teaching trip not a photography trip, or so I thought. A 52mm lens gives the same view as our eyes do- no telephoto effect, no wide angle effect- just a normal lens showing a normal, everyday view. Using a normal lens is a good ‘seeing’ exercise.
Going with just one lens is also a freeing experience. Nothing to think about really- no cropping, no zooming, no lens changing- all you have to do is look for compositions. And because it is a normal lens, what you see is what you are going to photograph.
The trick when you are out wandering taking pictures like this is to pay attention to what catches your eye. Your eye will catch on anything out of the normal- an unusual shape, color, texture, movement or pattern. If you attend to what catches your attention (and not just let it pass quietly by) all you have to do is decide if it is pretty. If what catches your attention is pretty, take the picture. If it is merely interesting or barely notable, don’t take the picture.
I was out for about 2 hours walking up through the still green aspens to the golden aspens in the high meadows above. I took most the shots at f11 at ISO 500. This gave me a shutter speed of at least 250th of a second so hand holding the camera wasn’t an issue. But because I was hand holding I couldn’t do any compositions that required extreme depth of field. (Extreme depth of field compositions require the foreground to be very very close to the camera and therefore a very very small f-stop) Consequently, my foregrounds started at least 10 feet away so I didn’t need an aperture f16 or f22.
I took about 40 shots and kept about 10, showing you my favorite 4. I probably won’t do anything with these shots but it sure was fun being out taking pictures for no good reason other than for the fun of it. No heavy equipment bags to haul around, no purpose to strive for, just me and my camera out for a walk. And it sure was a pretty day to be awandering.