Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I've recently rediscovered the simple joys of shooting with the Canon 50/1.8 II (thrifty fifty). In a world full of huge, image-stabilized zooms, I'd forgotten how small, light, and fast the 50 was. Slap that sucker on the 5D, and suddenly you've got a surprisingly small, light, full-frame, natural perspective camera for street photography. I even took it with me to a blues bar last weekend, and my mostly sober friend didn't even notice that I was "packing heat" until we were about to leave.

One of the features I like about the 5D is its support for Picture Styles. For street photography, put it in Monochrome, bump up the sharpness, and you can come away with some pretty interesting street scenes. The Monochrome Picture Style also supports electronic filters in yellow, orange, red, and green. You can apply these filters without carrying any addition equipment. If you shoot in raw, like me, you can apply these filters in Digital Photo Professional. If you shoot in color, you can apply similar filters in Photoshop using Channel Mixer adjustment layers.

The 50 is also a great way to focus on composition. Even an experienced photographer can use a refresher in composition. One of the things I remember reading in Annie Leibovitz At Work, was that she could only afford a 50mm lens when she started shooting in the Bay Area in the 60's. Many of her classmates had 35mm lenses, which were looser and allowed them to put more in the frame. She said that the 50 forced her to focus on composition to get the shot. I think she was on to something.

Last Friday the weather here in Baltimore was bearable (about 50 degrees, heh), so I came home early to do some street photography. I was walking along West Pratt Street when I came across this spot next to Camden Pub. I've walked by it more times than I can remember, but I'd just never noticed it before. Generally I steer clear of power lines and telephone poles, but for some reason it just worked this time. Maybe I just wasn't in the right mode without the 50 in hand...

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