It's not the gear…except sometimes it is!

Does this sound familiar?

“It’s not the gear…it’s the photographer using the gear.”


There’s truth to this of course.

BUT…when you are trying to achieve a certain look and feel, well, having the right gear can really help.

When I first started doing outdoor sessions with my nifty fifty (Nikon 50mm 1.4), the shots were

lovely…but…I just couldn’t get the look I was after.

Then I learned about “lens compression.”

(Without delving into the technical side of things, in a nutshell what this means is when you take a picture with a longer focal length, it will make your subject and background appear closer together than in real life (and it will also make objects in the background seem larger in relation to the subject).

With wide-angle lenses, the opposite effect occurs. It seems to extend the distance between your subjects and the background (and the background objects seems smaller)

Here’s a quick example (from Enlighten: our guide to outdoor natural light)

Here I’m taking a photo of this little bear using my 50mm, 85mm and 135mm

(we show some more lenses in action in the class – but this will show you what I’m referring to!)

Here is our model – notice the tree in the back ground.


With my 50mm, the tree looks far away (it is!) and it looks small.

With the 85mm, you can see that the tree appears to be closer to the bear and it looks larger.

Also note that dark green patch of grass behind the tree.


With the 135mm, you aren’t seeing the tree – but, take a look at how big and close that dark green patch looks!

Now, can you still get great shots (and a lovely blurred background) with a multitude of lenses?

Yes – of course!

But certain lenses DO certainly help you achieve a different look! (and when it comes to outdoor photography, having a longer focal lens – for me – is helpful!)

My favourites – the 135mm, 200mm (massive!) and my 100mm macro (makes for a great portrait lens!)

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