My first week task was to just start getting familiar with my lenses a little bit by playing with the range of focal lengths I have available. In looking for exercises to do for this, I found a variety of ways of playing with focal length. Instead of just picking one, I figured that several worth trying out.
These are the three different exercises I did:
- Find an object that you can get some distance from, and using one focal length, take a picture from far away. Then take 5 steps forward, take another photo. Continue this until you get right up to the object. Repeat for each focal length.
- Pick a scene, stand in one location and take the same photo, changing focal length each time.
- Pick an object, and take the same picture, with the same framing, with each focal length. To get the same framing, you'll need to move back and forth.
I have three different lenses, and I figured I should do these with the full gamut. I have:
- Canon 18mm - 55mm kit lens
- Canon 50mm/ƒ1.8 II prime lens1
- Canon 55mm - 250mm telephoto lens
When I did an exercise that ran the full series of focal lengths I have (exercises 2 and 3), I did these settings, in this order:
- 18mm, 35mm, 55mm (Canon 18mm - 55mm)
- 50mm (Canon 50mm/ƒ1.8 II)
- 55mm, 100mm, 200mm, 250mm (Canon 55mm - 250mm)
This gave me a wide range, in roughly the right order, without doing every single focal length I can. It also let me see if there was a difference between the kit lens 55mm, and the telephoto lens 55mm. (Yep, there was a difference sometimes.) I should also note that I left the settings in P (Program) mode which automatically sets aperture and shutter speed to exposure.
For the first exercise, where you walk up to the object at a set focal length, I picked a different object for each lens and did them on different days. I used a big tree in a cemetery (telephoto), a swing set in our courtyard (kit lens), and then on a rainy day, a hanging on the living room wall (50mm prime).
There isn't a whole to really show for the pics I took, so I haven't uploaded them all to Flickr (just a couple that I used as my 365 pics), as it is mostly an exercise of familiarity, and not technique. I realized that I'll probably want to do this exercise regularly over time until I really have a good feel for what each lens will do. In the future I'm planning to do a week per lens, so that I can really focus on how each lens behaves. With three lenses and lots of focal lengths, it ended up feeling very spread out and that I don't have a great feel for them yet. There are also a plethora of exercises for focal length, more than I did here.
This post is part of my 2013-2014 365 photo project, where in addition to taking a picture every day, I am also doing weekly projects to learn about my cameras and photo techniques. I'm a rank beginner with a DSLR, and while I've taken lots of snapshots over the years, I've never really bothered learning the craft. Hopefully the next year will change that.
1 If you're curious to know more about 50mm prime lenses and why they are a favorite lens for a lot of people, here is an article from TutsPlus, Introducing the Wonderful World of 50mm Prime Lenses.