Exploring Landscape Photography with a Single Prime Lens (Video)

Recently landscape photographer Nigel Danson shared his experiences venturing into the Lake District, armed with nothing more than an 85mm lens. The challenge? Capture the beauty of this serene location through the confines of a fixed focal length lens. The result was a visual exploration that revealed new layers of creativity and spontaneity in his work. Let’s unpack some of the lessons learned from his adventure:

(for those of you reading this by email, the video segment can be viewed here)

Nigel Danson began the expedition with an objective in mind – a self-imposed challenge to use a single focal length throughout his journey. Using an 85mm lens forced him to take fewer shots, thus compelling him to explore more and be more thoughtful about each composition.

Challenge Yourself: The Power of One Focal Length

His constraint led to creative solutions and pushed him to find novel ways to capture the essence of the landscape. By working within these constraints, Danson effectively stretched his creativity and produced extraordinary results that emphasized the aesthetic power of simplicity.

The Importance of Physical Movement in Photography

One crucial takeaway from Danson’s video is the importance of movement in photography. Without the flexibility of a zoom lens, he needed to physically move around to find the perfect shot. This approach encouraged him to be more aware of his surroundings and look for new perspectives that may not have been evident from his initial vantage point.

The Impact of Timing and Light on Landscape Photography

Another lesson from Danson’s experience involves the timing and light in landscape photography. He demonstrated the importance of waiting for the perfect light to illuminate a scene, showing how it could transform an ordinary image into something exceptional.

The right light conditions can create depth, accentuate textures, and provide an image with an appealing, almost magical glow. However, it requires a great deal of patience and the ability to seize the moment when it arises.

Spotting the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Danson’s exploration brought forth the idea of spotting extraordinary details in ordinary scenes. By capturing close-ups of ferns or silhouettes of isolated trees against a mountain backdrop, he reminded us of the beauty inherent in everyday sights that we often overlook.

Danson also demonstrated the power of an 85mm lens in creating compelling images that rely on the lens’s natural bokeh effect to separate the subject from the background. This allowed him to draw attention to intricate details and create a sense of depth and three-dimensionality in his images.

single lens

Appreciating the Value of Simplicity in Composition

Above all, Danson underscored the value of simplicity in composition. By using the green patches as leading lines into his scenes, he drew the viewer’s attention to the focal points of his images. This was particularly effective in the dense woodland, where he managed to distill complex scenes into simpler, more digestible compositions.

Conclusion: Embrace the Challenge

Throughout his journey, Nigel Danson repeatedly showed that constraints could be a photographer’s best friend, acting as catalysts for creativity. The adventure wasn’t just about capturing images with an 85mm lens; it was a lesson in embracing challenges, understanding the landscape, and refining the art of seeing. It was a testament to the power of patience, the magic of the right light, and the potential hidden in everyday scenes.

Finally, Danson’s experience emphasized the importance of physical movement in photography – a reminder that the best zoom function we have is our own two feet. By stepping out of our comfort zones and embracing new ways of capturing the world around us, we can unlock new dimensions of creativity in our work.

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