It’s easy to get into a routine and stay there. While this usually means you are becoming good at something it also has its consequences. Doing the same thing over and over tends to lose its luster, excitement, and opportunity for growth. We are all about growth, right? Nod your head. Yes, yes we are. The best way to force yourself to grow as a photographer is by giving yourself no choice but to step outside of your comfort zone. This is not entirely about growing and learning new things. It’s also about diversifying your work and opening your and your audience’s eyes to a new take on images.
Photography is heavily gear related. You can only be as creative as your gear allows sometimes and it is especially true in the lens department. If you spend a lot of time reading photography related blogs, I’m sure you have heard people screaming (or typing) from the rooftops proclaiming it’s about your vision, not your gear. To an extent this is true but there comes a point where guess what? Gear matters a whole lot. The biggest game changer to your images is glass. Sweet, sweet glass. Due to varying focal lengths and compression, two images from the same exact location can and will look completely different.
Leave it at home – Are you a heavy wide angle shooter like me? Leave that lens at home next time you go out shooting. Enjoy the telephoto brand of glass? Keep it in the bag and strap on the wide angle. This is hands down the best way to force you to expand your vision and skill. For the remainder of this article, I will pretend everyone out there loves their ultra wide angle lens as much as me. When using a niche lens like an UWA, you tend to compose and frame most shots in a similar fashion. Foregrounds stretch, apparent distances expand, and the sun appears very small.
Switch it up and compress. Telephoto lenses have the opposite effect on your images and bring farther objects in tight and close the gap between foreground and background. When you are working with a much tighter field of view, you can’t help but compose shots differently. You focus more on details and smaller areas of landscapes rather than large expanses fitting everything in. No matter your preferred focal length, leave it at home next time and bring one lens with you. When you are out in the field and have no options you find ways to make it work. Most of the time this only opens more opportunity and rarely do I find myself wishing I brought all my lenses. There is always something out there to be photographed.
Going for this nature hike in Hawai’i with only my 35mm f/1.8 prime lens attached to my camera meant I had to change how I composed shots. I focused more on detail and compressing distant objects. It was a refreshing take on the day rather than trying to squeeze everything into a frame.
This is my favorite exercise to keep me on my toes and not fall into a boring routine of shooting the same way over and over again. Not only will you appreciate a new take on landscapes, but your audience will also like seeing a fresh take on a familiar subject.
Jesse Pafundi is a photographer hailing from Long Island, New York. A lover of all things photography, he enjoys traveling and capturing the world around him as much as possible. In addition to shooting landscapes, he has a major affection for New York City architecture and urban exploration. Whether it’s HDR, lens filters, or iPhoneography, he enjoys dabbling in and learning as many techniques as he can consume. Jesse believes strongly in the use of social media and blogging as a tool to further his knowledge and share his passion with anyone who wants to listen.
Photo Credit: © 2011 Jesse Pafundi
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