I'm Tired of Intervention...

Instagram just announced that it will be removing images depicting self harm from the platform in future. This comes as a result of a UK teen committing suicide after posting images communicating distressing images of depression and self harm. While this is a horrible thing (the death of any person is regrettable and a loss for society), I’m drawn to this conclusion; We should not be banning anything like this on instagram. We should be using it as a reference to reach out to those who display this tendency. After all, posting said material almost always comes from a desire for help and attention. Maybe if instead of sweeping the problem under the rug to pacify our prudish tendencies (as Instagram is doing), we confronted the issue head on when it arises, we could help those who cry out for help through their social networks. Maybe we’d even solve the problem.

My $0.02 for the evening.

Dream Glass

Scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, I came across an article on Petapixel.com that made my day. The article was titled, “Do You Have a Lens You Will Never Sell? This Is Mine.” To read the article, go here.

What made me so happy to see this article is the lens in question. The authors favorite lens? The Canon 135mm f2L. This lens just so happens to be my own personal favorite lens. I’ve owned four copies of the lens over the past ten years. Two I’ve worn out or sold, and two remain in my bag seeing near constant use. The reason I love this particular piece of glass is multi faceted.

Number 1; the focal length. 135mm offers a unique look for a short tele lens. It compresses its length far better than an 85mm or 90mm, but is not so long or unwieldy as a 200mm. For me as a portrait photographer, the artistic options with this focal length are endless. I photograph people, women mostly. The 135’s ability to flatter a subjects face is peerless. The beauty of the resulting image is created by the lens’s focal compression. The image is compressed along the focal length, creating a linear flattening of the foreground and background. Placing a subject’s face in the area of focus gives you a flattering distance between the subject’s features.

Number 2: The optical quality. The sharpness across the frame is amazing. While the there is some shading in the corners at f2, the rendering of color and clarity is so pure, that it’s a sin I can forgive. The shading is easily correctable in photoshop or by stopping down past f4 if you are shooting landscapes or long exposures. For me however, I’ve always enjoyed shooting with lenses that aren’t perfect. I love the unique characteristics that older lenses can provide. I’ve always considered my completed image far more important that the individual quality of the lens I used. The magic of the 135 is that it’s a unique lens with a wonderful look, that also just happens to be an optically excellent lens.

Number 3: The aperture diaphragm. The list could go on and on, but the aperture has to be mentioned. This thing is monster in low light. Combined with it’s short telephoto focal length, this lens is a bokeh machine. The focus falloff is beautiful, giving you a perfect lens for portraits.

The last thing I love is not a benefit over other 135mm lenses, it’s more a statement on the design of the lens itself. The lens was developed in the mid nineties, and since then it has been a staple of the Canon EF lens lineup. It has one of the fastest autofocus motors in the industry, and despite being more than twenty years old it can hang with most current primes in the industry. Not a huge thing, but still an impressive feat.

To wrap it up? I love my 135mm. I’m just chuffed to bits that someone else loves it too!

Elliot R. | Canon 5D Mk II + EF 135mm f2L

Elliot R. | Canon 5D Mk II + EF 135mm f2L

Kenzie S. | Canon 5D Mk III + EF 135mm f2L

Kenzie S. | Canon 5D Mk III + EF 135mm f2L

Priscilla S. | Canon 5D Mk II + EF 135mm f2L

Priscilla S. | Canon 5D Mk II + EF 135mm f2L

Kenzie S.  |  Canon 5D Mk III + EF 135mm f2L

Kenzie S. | Canon 5D Mk III + EF 135mm f2L

Be Better

I’m writing this from behind the counter of the camera shop I work at. I’m pretty tired for a monday. That might have something to do with the amount of celebration that I subjected myself to last night. There’s a good reason for this; I’m from New England and my team is the Boston Red Sox. Last night they won their fourth world series in the twenty-first century. It was a night to celebrate. Boston overcame many obstacles to put the crown jewel on a franchise record 108 game winning season. As I watched the post game coverage, I heard statements from many of the players and coaches about working hard all year and how much that work had contributed to the season’s awesome ending. Being a fan, I can attest to the amount of hard work that the Sox put in over baseball’s long season.

This morning, I’m thinking about the parallels in my own industry; Photography. How many times have I thought I’ve arrived? Sometimes I even think that I couldn’t make an image better, when I undoubtedly could. To make that image better however, would require work. Lots of work. I remember reading about Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was arguably the first pioneer of street photography and photojournalistic styles. He was one of the first mainstream users of thirty five millimeter film, in an age of large and medium format cameras. He was known to take negatives of his work and place cutouts of the compositional aids, such as the rule of thirds, the golden section, and others, over them to understand where he could have composed differently. Through many years of self criticism and critique, he developed one of the strongest compositional skills ever, breaking new ground in photography, and in the process, creating a look that would be copied by generations of photographers.

This draws me back to my own work. How many times should I try again if a shot doesn’t quite pan out? How much work does it require? Well after ten years of shooting, I can tell you that it takes a lot. A whole hell of a lot. But you know what? It’s worth it. Being able to create great work and yet know that there is so much more to do, is an amazing sensation. It keeps my focus on the greater task. And maybe, just maybe I’ll get better the more I try.