With everything in life, if you want to get to the next level you need to set forth challenges and complete them. You don’t have to pass with flying colors though, the simple act of setting a goal and trying to accomplish it will push you forward in whatever it is that you’re learning.
For photography, this becomes a necessity after a while. Especially if you’re living in the same area and don’t stray too far. This is where photo essays, or challenges, come in handy. This time around I decided to do a lens challenge. My last one was a shape (circles) so this time I decided to limit myself to one focal length, in comes the fixed 50mm.
For this challenge I happened to be in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Whenever I go to the capital of this country it’s usually to take care of legal things and to visit family. It’s not very often that I pull out my camera so this time around I made it a point to get out and grab some shots.
All along the Malecon of Santo Domingo there are various lookout points that the government has built. From the street they don’t look too interesting but once you actually park and get out on them the view is incredible. You can see the entire reef wall as well as the cityscape off in the distance.
Why This Challenge Works:
By limiting yourself to one focal length you’re forced to walk around. A lot of people will go to a scene, pick a nice spot and over use the zoom. That’s ok too but you’re really only getting one type of shot. By picking a fixed length you’ll have to observe the area more, walk around, crouch and stand on things to get everything that you want in the frame nicely composed. This will put your photographers brain to work in a different way and stimulate you to give your photography eye a new perspective.
Tips For This Challenge:
– You’re going to have to walk around a lot since you’re only using once focal length. If you’re in an area similar to the reef I was on make sure to bring shoes. This will make walking on the jagged reef a breeze and will allow you to get perspectives that most people never see because they never venture out.
– On the note from above, look at what you have to photograph and try to shoot it in a way that most people never see. If you simply get out of your car and start shooting your shots won’t be that great. Get low, or high, or really close, or really far. Whatever your choice is just make sure to take the picture from an angle that not everyone would see. Show people the beauty in the details.
– If you don’t have a fixed lens just pick one focal length or your lens and stick with it. If you find yourself constantly zooming you can even grab a couple of rubber bands and place them around the zoom. This won’t stop the lens from zooming but it will grab your attention when you bring your hand up to zoom.
– After you complete a challenge you only want to select your best shots. Don’t clutter your computer with ten slightly different pictures of the same thing.
The rest of my favorite shots from my 50mm challenge.
And that is all. For all of the other photographers out there, I challenge you to a 50mm challenge. If you don’t have a 50mm, then pick any focal length, but make sure to leave it at that exact focal length, and go out to take some pictures!