After last year's nice experience that was the Kelby Scott Photowalk (you can check that post here), I was looking forward to the new edition, which was going to take place on October 11th in Rattanakosin area, central Bangkok. The weather was sunny and bright, the group of photographers promised to be bigger than ever, and we were going to explore some very interesting quarters and landmarks of old Bangkok, so all pointed to another enjoyable walk. As it was, indeed.
|A piece of sky, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
|The back side, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
Before I left the room, I decided I would try a slightly new approach to my walk that day: instead of using my zoom lens as I normally do in these circumstances, since it's the most flexible combo and it covers most situations without compromises, my romance with the Nocticrom was still blooming and I didn't want to leave it at home, so I attached it to my GH3 and hung it from my neck. But I knew that a wider lens would be very useful in the places we were going to visit and I didn't want to miss any opportunities that might arise, so I grabbed my GM1 with the 15mm lens, and I carried it in a small bag attached to my belt. Two cameras, two primes: I was ready to go!
|Floral arrangement, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Shadows and textures, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
|The snake, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
Usually, a wide lens is most suitable for street, landscape and urban shooting, while a short telephoto is generally more comfortable with portraiture and more detailed photography; however, it's not as simple as defining the suitability of a lens/focal length according to themes or subjects: it's all a question of perspective and emphasis. Ultimately, it's a conscious choice made by the photographer to emphasize one element of a capture above others. A scene might ask for a general, comprehensive treatment, thus needing a wide view, or it could have a particular element that the photographer would like to point out, thus requiring a telephoto for more isolation. It's a question of focus, not subject.
|The giant swing, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
|Roof scaffolding, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Cat's escape, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
Another area that can dictate or suggest what focal length to use is the dichotomy between inclusion vs. exclusion. If a scene contains a few elements with an appealing interaction between them and, therefore, the interest lies in the combination of them all, a wide angle would be the logical choice to include it all. However, if the physical distance between the photographer and the scene is big enough, a telephoto would be equally suitable but one should be more careful to keep all the focal points in focus though, at the same time, it has more control over depth of field and can play with it more creatively.
|Locomotion, GM1 + Panasonic Leica 15mm|
|The crew, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Refreshment at the bridge, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
Orthodox street photography generally recommends the photographer to use a wide angle lens and to get physically closer to the objects/people being photographed. But this sometimes can be a bit intimidating and, though it can be trained, not everybody feels comfortable getting that close to people to get a picture. In this regard, a short telephoto lens allows you to be at a safe distance, yet close enough to be able to engage with the subject, which is very important.
|Uncovering mysteries, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|In transit, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Siesta, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Anxious wheels, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Carving, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Load and unload, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Cohabitation, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
Could I have captured all those places and faces using a zoom, instead? Surely. Would the pictures be any different from the ones I got? Most probably. But not because the lenses can or can't record the same scenes, but because the attitude and approach of the photographer varies depending on the tools he or she is using. I can peel a potato with a knife or with a peeler, but the process will be slightly different in order to reach the same goal. It's the same with photography. In the end, it all comes down to knowing yourself, what interests you, and what tools you have at your disposal, and putting them to the best use possible.
|Temple relax, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|The end of the working day, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|
|Fell at home, GH3 + Panasonic Leica 42.5mm|