1172 – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out

I always say, follow your impulses. Today I had the impulse to make images from a very low perspective. You know the drill: do what you normally don’t do and see what happens. It’s one of those exercises that are often done to stimulate creativity, and it’s one of the things that are really fun to do. I should really show at least two more images, but it’s late and they definitely need processing. Maybe another day, maybe next Sunday 🙂

Talking about creativity, one of the most frequently given advices is to use one lens on one camera for an extended period of time. Mike Johnston most radically recommended it, Paul Lester does it, and now Ken Rockwell has written an article about mostly the same topic. There was quite a discussion about it on Paul Lester’s blog, and the general consensus of the comments is, that it is a good idea to just use one fast prime.


Funny, I recently went the other route.

You know me, I have used different primes, not religiously, though at times almost exclusively, but my most recent acquisition, the Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC, is one incredibly useful zoom. Again, it’s not religiously, but it has been on my camera almost exclusively since I bought it on November 6. And for me the argument is just the same: Simplicity.

This lens covers a big enough range to be very useful, it is fast, at least compared to other consumer zooms, it is sharp, its other quality characteristics are very well “good enough”, and finally the stabilization boosts its usefulness in low light tremendously.

Where is the simplicity, you ask? In not having to change lenses and still being able to hold images that I could hardly hold with the fastest prime.

This does not take away from the beneficial effect that primes have on one’s creativity, but shooting with primes is always kind of a challenge. There is some tension. It’s always the question if you can turn what you see, into the image that you want, given the lens that you have. This tension can force you into unexplored territory, thus sparking off creativity, but taking away that tension does not automatically turn you uncreative. Thankfully it works mostly one way.

The one camera / one lens routine teaches you to think about your photography. It raises the level by making photography that little bit harder, but really, what you learn that way, is not automatically unlearned when you change to a zoom. Once you’ve acquired it, you keep it, regardless of lenses. Just something to think about.

The Song of the Day is “Nobody Knows You (When You’re Down And Out)” in one of the best versions that I know: Nina Simone on her classic 1965 album “Pastel Blues”. I have it in the collection “Four Women: Nina Simone Philips Recordings”. Hear it on YouTube.

9 thoughts on “1172 – Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out”

  1. completely taken by this image
    love at first sight
    that kind of thing 🙂

    light, color, perspective, focus, angle, shapes, shadow :-)))

    i can only agree. do what you normally don’t do and be surprised 🙂

  2. I am with you brother, one main lens and make it a zoom. A 24-105 IS on an 5D body. Only downside it is f/4, but I have worked around that. Doesn’t get in the way of seeing and gives me a bit of room to maneuver.

  3. Certainly the one lens, one camera approach is certainly not a panacea, a cure all. It’s just another way of simplifying. Steve’s approach, having a single zoom is along the same lines. What I was talking about, as I’m sure you know, was in having so many lenses as to make decisions difficult, thereby getting in the way of the photography.

    It’s funny, you were a partial inspiration for the prime lens. You seem to use them nearly exclusively. 🙂 Now you’re switching! LOL!

    1. He’s just trying to stay ahead of the curve Paul. 😉

      Just picked up a Ziess Distagon T* 2/35mm over christmas for this very reason. It’s been a had transition to using not only a prime but manual focus. My how easily spoiled we become.

  4. Love it. Couldn’t agree with you more – who say’s you have to follow the rules? Great shot and i like the review of the lens. I’ve just bought one, but it has to be given to Santa to be delivered on Christmas day. :o( on the plus-side I did a couple of test shots before putting it back in the box and they look great.

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