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Through the looking glass

"Love that photo.... you must have a good camera" I've heard that, more than just, a few times. Cameras certainly improve though a system is only as good as its weakest point - which generally is the person pointing the camera.

Yes, many other factors contribute to a good* photo: light, subject, background, camera.. however if I was going to pick one single element to have the biggest impact on a photo it would be: the lens. It's never mentioned, only the camera & its mega pixel count (don't get me started on that one)

So, the humble bit of glass sticking on the front of the camera body, for most cameras & certainly most cameras I'll use for wedding photography, that IMHO can do more than just record the scene. A quality wedding photography lens has to be able to create some magic also. I have in mind a little photo shoot where I'll show the difference lenses make to the same scene & subject - though that is for another day. Today I'm going to talk about just one lens - my macro lens: Nikkor 105 f/2.8.

Could I shoot an entire wedding with it? it would be very hard work & group photo could be a squeeze however for detail & portrait photos its ideal. I use it especially for the wedding ring shots. Why for the rings? Well it reproduces what I photograph at 1:1 - that is full size & because it will also focus as close as 30cm - it means those rings will be full of detail & if I print the image 24x12 ( double page spread in my wedding albums ) that will be a lot of detail & the rings will be huge.

Another - bonus - of the design of Macro lenses, including this lens, is something called bokeh: the nice blurry out of focus areas in a photo. Now I love bokeh though our brains generally like to see something sharp in a photo, we're just wired like that. So for me the secret is to have an area super sharp & gorgeous swirly colours & light in the background.

detail of wedding rings balanced in wedding flowers
Through the looking glass.

Without getting a lab coat on, big pointy stick & a wallboard to show some maths - which frankly I just wouldn't understand, the physics of construction of these lenses means they can have a - shallow depth of field. Which is: only a thin sliver of this scene is in focus; the diamonds in the ring & some of the flower petals. Anything about 9mm closer of further away from those diamonds is out of focus.

wedding rings balanced together on a stone church wall
A sliver of focus

With this image, love it, you can clearly see the thin sliver of focus: the diamonds in the balanced ring & a tiny area stone. Everything else mushing into soft out-of-focusness © ™

You can get more in focus, if you want - add some light go to a small aperture.. techno whizz bang & I could, though my preference is smooth & dreamy bokeh.

This is why, for me, photography & including wedding photography very much in this, is a mix of both technical knowledge paired with artistic creativity & expression.. yin & yang.

If you've made it down to here, well done, I may have waded into the depths a little there.

* A little mantra I do fully endorse is: there are no good or bad photos, just photos you like or dislike. To prove that little saying: the most technically perfect photo can leave you feeling, meh... where a, technically, flawed photo can cause an emotional response.


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