So while I was out the other day, I found this marsh full of overblown, overwintered cattails. I decided to spend some time shooting them with a lens I don’t use all that often – my 65-200mm manual Olympus lens. On my E-30 it covers a range equivalent to 130-400mm in 35mm film format or full frame, so it’s got a lot of reach. Despite what some say, many legacy lenses are extremely sharp, well made and suit digital photography just fine. Many of them are bargains to boot. So I decided to leave it on and see what I could do with it.
This is wide open (f4) and at or close to maximum zoom. Something I never would have achieved with the 60mm (120mm in film) end of my normal lens. I really like the selective focus of the wide aperture and the very OOF background. It lends to the overblown quality and drowsy feeling the cattails have at end of season.
With the zoom at about the half-way mark, we get a bit wider field of view that includes snow on the frozen marsh. I shifted back and forth until I found the right shape in the cattail clusters, stopping the lens down one to f5.6. The contrast with the dark brown and golden colors is particularly nice, but what really makes it is that strip of dark brown at the top. It’s the far bank and I included it to keep a viewer’s eyes in the frame. I really like this shot.
And last but not least, a vertical orientation in black and white. It’s another example of why it’s important to look back when you’re leaving a location. You never know what you’ll see and some of my very best photos come from having just one look back. This time I spotted a little parting in the rushes. Really I think I’d only have spotted it because of the snow. Once I did though, I flipped the camera on its side and found a good composition keeping the far bank in the shot to add depth and perspective, this time stopping down to f8 or so to get a few more of the individual stalks in focus. When I saw it again in Lightroom I decided to do a b&w conversion to emphasize the marvelous tonal range of this photo.
Part of what I love about my style of photography is that I get to spend time in quiet, natural places studying what I find around me. Sometimes when I use an lens I don’t often reach for it opens up a whole new world; a new perspective. Limiting myself to just this lens helped me find compositions I might otherwise have not seen with my usual 12-60mm ZD lens. I really should do it more often.
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