2019 Photographic Review | 35Chronicle Photography

black & white, boats, close-up, colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, macro, nature, night / low-light, people, photography, portraits, review, ruins, rural, skies, still life, structures, summer, trees, waterscape

As the Days Begin to Lengthen.


This time last year I was preparing my first ever photo-review here at 35Chronicle and, at the time, I could never have professed to have known just what a year 2019 was going to be for me. In every sense of the word it’s been an amazing year, and – a traumatically difficult one for the large part. Suffice to say that if you are a regular reader of my pages, you’ll know a little of what I’ve been up to and, subjected to and – you might also realise that as well as those closest to me who have kept me going throughout the year since spring, my love of all things photographic have been my main non-pulsatile impetus to get back out there and, get better. Better in health, at life, at shooting – just, better; in any way I can.

Despite some difficulties in getting back out there (you try shooting whilst holding on to your crutches while your camera bag is threatening to slide forward under the weight of the gear – with the express intent of taking one of your legs from underneath you!) I have enjoyed many excursions this year. Insosaying, I have done my best to represent each month of 2019 (by date of publishing) with what I feel is the one shot that truly made the cut. My cut. I hope I have done enough.

Of course, the whole reason I am writing any of this is because, well – you are reading it. As such, I need to say a massive thank you to a huge amount of people who have been with me this year and without whom, my 2019 would have turned out rather different and probably not as good. Therefore, to loved ones, to friends, to everyone here on WP, and to everyone who has been of support to me throughout the year, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You all know who you are and I forget not one of you.

Please do enjoy this selection of just some of my favourite frames of this year and I hope you’ll join me again in 2020. It’ll be great to see you again. (To H – thank you and please forgive me for my shameless and blatant use of your sign-off. It fits perfectly, expresses my intent to a tee and I truly can’t think of or find a better way to say it. I promise to only use it this once!)

See you on the flip-side, folks!

In Metta.

– Rob –


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January 2019 | Moss after Rain.

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February 2019 | The Wellspring – Kirkcudbright | 720nm IR.

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March 2019 | Thirlstane Arch – Powillimont, Southerness | 720nm IR.

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April 2019 | Dundrennan Abbey [AKA: The Day of Two Cakes!]| 720nm IR

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May 2019 | Angela.

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June 2019 | Gelston Castle | 720nm IR.

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July 2019 | River Nith to Greyfriars | 720nm IR.

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August 2019 | Angela & her Machines.

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[Just After] September 2019 | The Kelpies – Falkirk | Late Dusk.

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October 2019 | Light Muse (Sic!)

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November 2019 | Edinburgh, from the Castle.

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December 2019 | Paisley James – 4 Hours Old.
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Happy New Year 2020, to You All!

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Closer Still(s) | PT.VIII | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, Indoor, nature, photography, spring

Spring Broom | PT.II of II.


Righto, this is the second of two posts (otherwise it gets boring!) containing shots that I made last week of the gorgeous red and yellow broom flowers that are in massive numbers at the back of my house right now. They truly are stunning little flowers and, though most of the shrubs are offering yellow flowers only, there is just one out of the entire lot of ’em that has given up these beautiful variations, the like of which I have not witnessed before. To look at them with the naked eye, they are not all that remarkable, however, when getting up-close and very personal with these 15mm or so flowers, they do take on a much more intricate character, if that can be said of a plant? 

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IV. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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V. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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My macro / close-up set-up is pretty basic really and shooting only with a 35mm lens (which is not a macro-lens either) does make my choices very simple – I either can shoot what I envisage or, I can’t. It’s as simple as that. There are of course limitations but these only serve me to do my best to get more creative with what I do have in my bag. Yes, I have mentioned my little 49mm Hoya +10 Close-up filter a few times but I cannot stress how abso-bloody-lutely brilliantly useful that little filter is. Having spent countless thousands of pounds on photographic equipment over the many years I have been enjoying the art, it truly is a revelation to know that instead of forking out (and carrying around) more lenses, I have finally managed to put together a collection of three cameras and a few filters that even collectively weigh less than my last DSLR with it’s 50/1.4 mounted. Picky, I am indeed and I would be the first to be unhappy with my images if my chosen rigs weren’t producing the goods that I work towards – and the only duds I ever find are those reflecting my own mistakes. 

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VI. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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I love these images and I am very happy to have made them – yet, though I don’t expect anyone else to share my utter enjoyment of them, I do hope that some will find a little pleasure in them. Such an understated plant and yet, so full of form and vibrance that I find incredibly appealing. To have these frames is a real pleasure for me because, very soon, the garden floor will be coated in a carpet of faded yellow petals and, the hedgerows? Well, they’re certainly going to be left wanting, aren’t they?

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VII. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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Click for PT. I of II
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Closer Still(s) | PT.VII | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

Spring Broom in Bloom | PT.I of II.


I. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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II. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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III. | 35mm w/Hoya +10

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Click for PT.II of II
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To May, Farewell | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, colour, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, spring, trees

A Small Tribute (from a Country-Boy).


Every year for as long as I can recall, May always seems to be the finest month of them all. The coming of the Spring, the new growth – and the welcome respite at the tail-end of another long, cold and windy winter. This is, I realise hardly a fitting tribute for all of the light, warmth and, even hope that May brings, however, it’s all I have time for before the last day of this beautiful month, ticks-tocks away for another eleven. 

(23:40 – 31st May 2018) 

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Bluebells. | 35mm

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Calves | 35mm

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Contrails | 35mm | 720nm Infrared

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Under the Boughs | 35mm

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Old Stones | 35mm | 720nm Infrared

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Farewell… | 35mm | 720nm Infrared

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Until next year, then?

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Either Side of the Day | 35:Chronicle

35mm, colour, landscape, photography, skies, sunrise, sunset, waterscape

Shades of Blue & Gold.


To the East.

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To the West | I.

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To the West | II.

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The Writhings on the Wall | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

Sterling Moss.


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Current Alternate | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, colour, nature, photography, spring, sunset, trees, waterscape

Ups & Downs.


Intending to head out and catch the sunset over the water – hoping for its often noted millpond stillness, I found myself a tad disappointed on arrival. Though not choppy, there was just too much movement on the surface this evening and, though the sunset was utterly beautiful, I found that the calming of the waters just wasn’t worth the wait. After an hour, loss of light and, several insect bites, I gave it up for the night; but, not before making a few frames. (I’m easily consoled.)

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III.
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Land-Escapery | PT.I | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, landscape, nature, personal, photography, trees

Snapped.


It took me a lot of years to find my way into making landscape photographs. The main reason for my late arrival to the genre was purely one of my own perceived inadequacy at being able to capture any two images that didn’t look the bleedin’ same. Perceived or not – I found it extremely difficult to produce images that were either pleasing to me or, worthy of showing to anyone at all, ever. However, someone once told me that we always want what we can’t have and, maybe because I had so much difficulty with capturing landscapes, I tried even harder to do so.

The first few years was a struggle, much like when I decided (rather foolhardily, many years ago), to take up golf – and I actually did end-up snapping my driver in acceptance of the futility of it all).  I don’t really know what happened in my head (we’re back on photography now – forget the golf-thing) but there came a point where it started to make some sense and I have enjoyed the genre ever since. Though I’m far from where I want to be, creatively, I enjoy it now, more than ever, which is good because I really don’t fancy trying to snap any of my cameras in ‘alf!

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Distant Mist.

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Home.

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Home w/Double-Rainbow.

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A Little Bit of Delicate | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, nature, personal, photography, spring

[…and a Smidgen of Rustic]


Okay, so I have been completely lazy here. With little by way of an agenda today, I spent my time titivating the garden and enjoying a little more sunshine, while we’re fortunate enough to have some. (Good weather for six days straight has to be some kind of a record in the UK but, I’m loving it). As the afternoon wound down, I followed suit soon after and, took another appreciative look around this little corner of my world. I never tire of its rusticness, the ever present multi-layered birdsongs, the sound of the brook just past the front of the house and from the outskirts of my garden on two sides, there’s plenty of attractive woodland with, among many others, tall pines audibly filtering the occasional breeze and straining the sunlight. I decided to grab my camera, to take a short stroll and, make a few frames before the light dipped for the day. 

There’s no real artistic merit here – just a small handful of hand-held grab-shots, still, it’s a lot less predictable than, ‘Dear Diary, Today, I did next to bugger all except to sit on my arse!‘. Besides, simply capturing life is exactly what I’m loving about sticking with one focal-length and just – going with it. It’s a lot more liberating than I’d ever imagined it would be, in more ways than one. 

(And, no – I’m not a Walton, but, on days like today – there sure is no place like home!)

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I. Beneath Filtered Rays.

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II. The Loner.

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III. Almost in the Shade.

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IV. Potted…

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Infrared Lucidity | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, infrared, landscape, nature, photography, spring, summer, trees, waterscape

Monochrome Waterscaping | 720nm Infrared.


I. From a Bridge:

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II. To a Bridge:

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Closer Still(s) | PT.VI | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring, summer

Dent de Lion.


We call it the Dandelion, from the French meaning ‘lion’s tooth’; but it has many more names, not oft’ used or heard such as: cankerwort, swine’s snout, witch’s or, yellow-gowan, monks-head, milk-witch, blowball, Irish daisy, priest’s-crown, wet-a-bed (presumably because of the diuretic effect of its roots when ingested), and, white or, wild-endive. No matter what we call it here in most parts of the UK, it’s generally regarded as a weed (but this is more than likely promoted as such by chemical companies producing consumer lawn and garden-care.) Nonetheless, though the humble dandelion is an all-too-common sight at this time of year, it would be a mistake to think that it wouldn’t be worthy of a frame or two. 

[Each image resized for web & may be tapped / clicked to open in a new tab / window]

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Closer Still(s) | PT.V | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

Sleeping Belles, Awake.


In my last post (Closer Still(s) | PT.IV) I posted two images from the pre-flowering stage of one of the many, many Bluebells, coming to life on the high slope in my back-yard. After leaving it in water after it’s first portrait session and essentially forgetting about it for a few days, I spied it today whilst doing the dishes and, was made to smile when I caught sight of them opening, there on the sill behind the window. After dark, I set up my backdrop, lights and, clamped the stem for another session. So, here for another whirl, is the same flower-head from PT.IV – only, a little bit more glorious. All we need now, to make it feel ultimately Spring-like – is some warmer weather. Oh, when?!

[Each image resized for web & may be tapped / clicked to open in a new tab / window]

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V.

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Closer Still(s) | PT.IV | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring

The Blue Belles of Spring.


Only a dozen or so posts into my project and already a third of my offerings  concentrate on the finer details. It’s true, I do love close-up photography and even moreso, visualising those details which too often go unnoticed simply because most of us don’t have the time to slow right down and observe. It’s easier to see the obvious, the ‘in your face’ elements of life; less so, all of those beautiful, artful elements of life hidden or camouflaged  within it’s fabric. I just don’t like missing out on anything that might force me to stop and wonder. There’s a reason in all of us, a perfect explanation as to why each of us fascinate over the things that we do. 

The fabric of the high and steep bank of what was once scrubland (before I got sick of looking at it and, mercilessly cleared it last year) behind my house – is currently a small sea of thick greens and indigo-blues. The Snowdrops and the Daffodils have had their time already and now, it’s the turn of another to bloom and saturate my garden with colour. As I look out of the kitchen window while I write, I see mainly sundrenched greens, but the ‘bells are rising up slowly and making themselves known. Out of curiosity, a few days ago, I decided that I wanted to make some close-up photographs once again, but this time, of the pre-flowering stage of the delicate Bluebell.

Never having regarded this little flower so closely before, I have to wonder – why on earth had I not?

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II.
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PT.V – Sleeping Belles, Awake
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Closer Still(s) | PT.III | 35:Chronicle

35mm, close-up, colour, nature, photography, spring, trees

Spring | Horse-Chestnut Buds


Only once in the past have I ever photographed this bud, a true spring beauty when you get closer. That was a lot of years ago now and whilst I enjoyed the results back then (being relatively wet behind the ears as I undoubtedly was – to close-up and macro-photography) the images I had produced didn’t have the impact I now look for when making images this way.

My indoor close-up set-up has evolved a little and I like to play around much more nowadays with lighting for more pleasing effects and, dare I say, maybe even a little drama? Processing is, perhaps surprisingly, minimal; this is largely due to the controlled environment in which I create, allowing for few problems after initial set-up for a new shoot (no pun intended). New buds can be so ridiculously photogenic when they start to sprout and what I have endeavoured to capture in this series (of a number of horse-chestnuts at different stages of growth) are not only the different textures and their rich colours, but also, their clear gluey stickiness, making them impossible to handle without leaving fingermarks and thus, they must be handled by the host branch when placing correctly for composing and framing. I sincerely hope that you’ll enjoy these images – because I have had so much fun in making them.

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Horse-Chestnut | 35mm w/ Hoya +10 Filter
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VI.

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VII.

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The Importance of the 35mm Focal-Length | 35:Chronicle

35mm, black & white, close-up, colour, Indoor, infrared, landscape, nature, personal, photography

The Most Versatile Focal-Length in the Bag.


The first lens I ever shot with was a 35mm, back in the day when I began making photographs with a film camera. In those days, zoom lenses had only been popular among casual shooters and enthusiasts for around ten years or so and my pocket was way too shallow to be able to afford anything more than my 35. So, it stayed with me and I made the best possible use that I could have with it. For over two years I used that same lens and the more I did, the more I loved it. It was almost as though I could predict how it would render, no matter what I was photographing; in essence, it’s frame-lines had begun to become branded into my brain, through my eyes. Of all the lenses I could have learned with, I am so relieved that my first lens was that 35. In later years I would come to prefer a 50 – a more natural focal-length for me, but whenever I spent time with this slightly longer lens, something often felt like it was missing. It took me years to figure out what that something was.

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Horse-Chestnut Bud

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After saving (and hammering my credit card on occasion) I acquired a number of other lenses over time, G.A.S took a firm hold of my psyche and, I kind of got lost. Though I loved all of the choices I was giving myself, I was only becoming more confused as to the ends I was trying to reach. Telephotos and mid-long zoom lenses made me want to go out and shoot wildlife; wider lenses had me scouring locations for old ruins and run-down buildings and kit zooms, the standard nowadays being the trusty 18-55, shot everything in-between; which was in honesty, almost everything. But even the useful FLs of a kit zoom weren’t really doing it for me because the something that I missed was this: scene and subject interaction. In other words, I was beginning to feel like a casual observer of the scenes or subjects that I was trying to capture rather than as an integral part of it. To me, this felt like a crime given how much I love and always have loved photography, but not only this, I wanted to be close to or even inside my frame – I wanted to be a part of the creative process that I absolutely love so much rather than as a bystander or worse, a casual voyeur on the perimeter, casually making frames of a world, or a scene – that was passing me by.

 

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Stumped | 720nm Infrared

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Shadowed

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It took me years to realise that I was killing my own creativity by trying so hard to cover every base by carrying way more glass than I could possibly need and, that no matter what lens I had mounted at a given time, I would always feel as though it was the wrong one, or, be at least concerned that it might not be the right choice at the time. Doing away with so much choice, essentially, does away with equal amounts of worry and concern. Furthermore, when we can make any and all possible images with any working lens, the only consideration needs to be how best to frame with that one chosen chunk of glass. To see in that focal-length and move around it and, through it, according to our own vision, whether unique or not. This does also mean that the legs get more use (particularly for prime glass) which in turn, puts me back in the centre of the process. But I hear cries and, they’re getting louder. They are cries of anguish and perceived enlightenment that are trying to tell me that I can’t shoot wildlife without a tele-lens, nor can I shoot wide landscapes or industrial frames without a decent wide lens. The 35 is neither one nor the other. So, what the hell am I doing? Well, I know these arguments well and I’ve been doing this a long time so, the ol’ saying about grandma proverbially sucking eggs may well be extremely relevant here. I don’t carry four or five kilos of gear any more and, I am still able to capture images that make me not only happy themselves, but also happy that I am back in the middle of my art. I simply had to revert to one main, workable focal-length and, get to know it again like I once did. The learning never stops but it’s amazing how quickly you can place yourself in the right spot for any shot when you only have to think in one perspective – the chosen prime perspective, that is. Before I have even lifted my viewfinder to my eye, I know where I need to be when an inspiration strikes. It takes away the guesswork, the trial and error, the faffing with lens-changes and the worry about crud getting inside the camera body. And yes, the bag is shedloads lighter and I can move about more freely, for way longer and, I don’t get home and reach for the Deep Heat anymore.

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Submission

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Cherry Blossom

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The 35mm focal length is considered to be at the longest edge of the wide-angle lens concept. It is also regarded as being pretty close to the natural focal-length at which we humans see. Neither of these ideas do I argue with. In contrast, I believe that these two elements are what truly make a 35 the most versatile lens for the way that I shoot and make photographs. Here are just some reasons as to why a good 35 should be a definite consideration:

  • Not only do most if not all 35s focus pretty close, they have little if any distortion (providing you haven’t got a dud).
  • They are inherently sharp (usually, even wide open – I’ve used many and never had a soft shot at f2 that wasn’t my own stupid fault).
  • Primes tend to open up more than zooms (though if you have deep pockets and you want, need and can justify the purchase of that mean looking 18-600mm 1.0 constant (you get the idea?!) then go for it). A fast 35 is a total joy to use when the light levels dip. If you haven’t tried it – you should.
  • The costs are relatively a lot lower than for good or high-quality longer or wider primes (so, much cheaper to replace if you drop it from a height).
  • They are small, light, often very well constructed and a joy to use. Because of the size and weight, they really don’t get in the way of my thinking. It’s a tool. I trust it. It works. Make photographs. Move on and, stop thinking about the gear!
  • 35 is wide enough to capture life as it happens, socially, environmentally, intimately – back in the 70s and 80s it was pretty much the only lens used by press photographers and if ever a lens finds itself in a tough proving ground, that’s probably it, right there.
  • Construction is largely such that it remains reliable for many years of service.
  • It’s the best middle of the road lens (alongside a nice 50 prime, depending on how you ‘see’) for learning and capturing whatever you want.
  • Whatever single focal-length one chooses to befriend, the mainstay of all of these points apply. I simply feel that a 35 is the true Jack of all’.
  • I’ve shot weddings, portraits, land & waterscapes, close-ups & near macro, stills and fine-art, visible, full-spectrum and infrared, the lot. The 35mm FL has seldom if ever left me wanting. My ageing legs too, are grateful, because they get a reason to keep working that little bit harder than a slightly sedentary brain would usually require of them.
  • Bag: Light + Bank Balance: Healthier (potentially).

If you’re considering venturing into a single focal-length for the first time, choose wisely and justify your choice, stick with it and, persevere. The benefits of restriction will present themselves quickly and, your eye will improve with enough frames. If you’re not sure about which FL to plump for but can’t get the idea of self-limitation for the sake of freedom out of your head, just go for a 35, mount it, forget it’s there, and simply enjoy making pictures – for the sheer love of it.

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