Photography Tutorials

One Lens Challenge

January 18, 2017

Limiting Your Tools for Exponential Learning

As primarily a wedding photographer as of late, (which is a freedom in photography to specialize in different areas and interchange them throughout time), I am often constrained by all of these:

  • My lens option may be limited because the one I want or creatively want is in a bag elsewhere – or a second shooter is using it…
  • The lighting cannot be changed and my artificial lighting setup is elsewhere – or the subjects have moved outside of your lighting setup.
  • I am forced to re-think my position or angle due to lens or lighting and compensate with those options or changing camera settings.

These scenarios occur in nature photography as well – have you ever been in the mountains on a sunny day but there is wind, clouds and fog passing by, changing the light, moving shadows, highlighting areas that you weren’t going to emphasize, grass movement…? The Grand Canyon is on my bucket list but I’ve heard that if you stand and look out, the view is constantly changing for these reasons.

Many of you have an arsenal of lenses, iPhone accessories and an assortment of filters and apps. But within limitation we find our challenge – and also our growth.

For the One Lens Challenge:

  • Choose One Location

  • Choose One Camera

  • Choose One Lens – or focal length if you do not own a prime lens

Begin by assessing your surroundings. Think about near and far, what is in focus, what is not sharp, what is insignificant, what captures your eye, your emotions, composition. Is there a story you are trying to tell about this subject? Whether it’s a tree, a dog, a table-setting, a child, a landscape…

A fixed focal length or prime lens will work best so you are not zooming out but using your mind, eye and self to physically move to compose and will push your creativity to another level. Physically having to move and ‘be the zoom’ as I call it will allow you to position the camera exactly where you want to frame the shot. Try spending 5 minutes in your backyard like I did recently with a f2.8/100 mm macro lens and see all of the things you can capture with great variety. I love traveling and limiting myself to one lens so I know ahead of time how I will function/react and then see where to position myself for what I want to portray. Feel free to shoot and tag #onelenschallenge on social media! Let’s see what we get :D

Below are some images all captured in 10 minutes or less with minimal if any editing. Note that time of day is everything…things change pretty fast. The frost became ‘lit’ by the sunrise but it also soon melted ;) Yet another challenge!




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