Often I’m asked from photographers at my workshops, “Which lens do I use?” The answer is simple, “The right lens for the right image.” Like all lenses in your photography gearbox, lenses are just another tool we use to create what we see, feel and capture, in a fraction of a second and I always choose the lens that I feel will help me see the subject in the right form.
Form is something many photographers truly fail to understand. When a photographer captures form in an image, they’ve captured all visible elements in a three-dimensional illusion. Often form is confused with shape, whereas shape is the physical dimensions of a subject seen in a two-dimensional medium (flat); form unites all the shapes. When we have form in an image, we’ve got more than a picture, we’ve got a photograph, often powerful, but more often, invoking an emotion to the viewer.
Form utilizes lens perspective, shadows, and light to show dimensions such as height, width, and thickness in your subject and all the elements that make an image. As an example, photograph a candle straight on with flat lighting and you have a two-dimensional image of a candle, similar to those you see on the front of a Christmas card. Now add a few candles, switch your shooting angle, move your light so it comes from the side or back to create chiaroscuro in the image, perhaps even set your aperture value low and use a longer lens for background compression and separation from your subject, now you have a photo of candles, but more important, you’ve illustrated form.
While there are many reasons to choose various lenses, such as when I was shooting NBA basketball you have one camera and lens for downrange shots and another for shots under the goal, ultimately the choice of which lens to use is based on your goal to produce form in an image along with your specific shooting style or intended result. In a nutshell, use the right tool for the right photograph. Thanks, and God Bless our troops, their families and friends. Rolando