Thoughts and brain dumps

Thoughts and brain dumps

By Andy Hawthorne. Words, photos, code and running…

02 Jan 2020

Why Longer Lenses Are Useful

Reading time: 3 minute(s) - 500 words

Gulls on the roof

I took this photo with a 70mm - 300mm Canon zoom lens. My exposure settings were: f/7.1, 1/500s ISO 1600. The focal length was 270mm.

Great, that’s the geekery out the way.

Extra mm = more creativity

I love using longer focal lengths - for the obvious reason that they pull things closer. BUT also because you can expand your creativity.

I was watching the gulls circle our neighbours houses for a while. I figured that they would land eventually and then there would be an opportunity.

That opportunity was going to materialise on the roof of a neighbours house - too far for my 18-55mm standard lens.

The more those gulls whirled and swooped it struck me that it was as though some of the gulls were putting on a show for the others.

So I set up the shot by planning to frame the photo between some tall shrubs in front of the house and the roof area.

There’s no way I could have thought about getting this kind of shot without a longer focal length lens attached to my camera.

Yes, that’s right, I’m claiming to have (within reason) planned this photo.

I watched the gulls behaviour.

I watched which roof they seemed to favour.

Then, I waited for the perfect moment and took the shot.

Fully confident that I’d be close enough to show the details I wanted to show.

My point being, it’s the extra focal length that gave me that confidence. I wasn’t even zoomed all the way out - 270mm not the full 300mm.

Getting closer to the action

So, I want to show you another example. Here it is:

Gulls on the wing

I was delighted to see some of the gulls swooping up from the roof and then settling back down again. It gave me the above shot.

My lens gave me the chance to get amongst them for this photo (and others). The extra focal length opened up the creative possibilities. And that to me, seems to validate my decision to add a longer lens to my camera kit.

It’s not just about adding kit…

I like to keep things simple. So, I’m not for one second suggesting we all rush out and buy more lenses.

I can’t afford to do that, even if I wanted to. There is still an argument that moving your feet goes some way to solving the not being close enough problem.

But, the truth is, to get shots like these you need the extra millimetres of focal length.

And when you have it… Boom! Now you have a way to plan other ways to capture your subjects.

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