Many photographers lust after new cameras and lenses. Indeed, many spend more time lusting after new equipment than they do consummating – err… working on the relationship they have with the cameras and lenses they already own.
For my large format camera I have one lens. It is a 180mm lens, and that roughly corresponds to a ‘normal lens’, i.e. one that has about the same perspective as the human eye, or, in 35mm terms, it is about the same as a 50mm lens. It’s a very fine lens, but there are times when I want a lens with a wider view (say, 90mm), and another with a telephoto view, such as a 300mm. It is simply(!) finances that preclude me from buying these lenses, I lust after them all the same…
So what to do when trying to make an image that would benefit from a wider view? In July I made a series of photographs on a very foggy morning at Glen More on the Isle of Mull. I was trying to photograph the glen near the edge of a lochan in the valley, whilst showing something of the scale of the valley – but the 180mm lens only covered about half of the valley. So one of my studies involved a triple exposure, moving the camera round a little at a time to include one side of the valley, the bottom of the valley, and the other side. The ground glass of the large format camera includes grids and markers for various purposes, so it was relatively easy to measure this out. I think the resulting image manages to communicate something of my view of the scene that morning:
The use of a 90mm lens would have enabled me to capture the entire breadth of the glen, but the image would have been different: is it important that the image doesn’t ‘look like’ the glen did? For me this communicates what I saw, even though the hills are not really this precise shape. I would still like to have a wider lens, but my lusting after such a lens has lessened somewhat since seeing the interesting and rather pleasing result that can be achieved with just the 180mm lens that I already have – in this context it was perfectly possible to communicate the image in my head using the equipment I already had.