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How Size Matters

When picturetaking, most often I’m concerned about the subject that is closest to me. I’ll pick the length of the lens that emphasizes the subject.

But there are often times that I’ll want the subject to fit in nicely with the background. By using a zoom lens, I can compose the subject in the viewfinder by varying the lens length setting.

While taking these photographs, I stood in the same place at the same distance from the foreground subject. I changed only the length of the lens (using a 24 to 240mm zoom lens).

As I’m not verbally astute enough to give you a proper explanation, I’ll show you visually how changing the lens length interacts with the perspective of the background.

My favorite is the last photo taken with the longest lens setting which emphasizes the mountains in the background.

For those that are interested, the foreground subject is the Moulton barn along Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. The background are some of the iconic mountains of the Teton Range.

For reference this is a photo taken with an iPhone at 4.5mm (equivalent to 26mm lens)

full frame camera with lens set at 27mm

full frame camera with lens set a 37mm

full frame camera with lens set at 53mm

full frame camera with lens set at 66mm

full frame camera with lens set at 83mm

What a View

27th August 2014

Wide Angle to the Extreme

It’s eye-catching when I see a photo that “bends” the horizon.

This bend comes from the camera’s lens. Use a very wide angle lens and you’ll see the curved “barrel” distortion on the images. One well-known type of wide angle lenses is the fisheye. These lenses typically have a field of view approaching 180 degrees – allowing you to capture the entire scene in front of the camera.

Until recently, fisheye lenses were expensive. I have one that cost well over $1500. But when I was looking for an ultra-wide angle for my Sony equipment, I found an inexpensive lens made by Rokinon. With its $300 price tag, I was a little skeptical of the quality of images from such a low cost lens but decided to try it regardless.

Here’s a short gallery of some of the scenes that I captured during my first outing with the lens a few weeks ago.

This is an 8mm f/2.8 fisheye. I wanted an ultra-wide angle for an extra Sony Nex7 mirrorless camera.

The Nex7 is very compact and lightweight. The Rokinon 8mm fisheye is also surprisingly compact.

The Sony Nex7/Rokinon 8mm setup is only about 1/3 the size of my Canon 6D with a Canon 8-15mm fisheye – a true space and weight saver.

One of the first images that I recorded with the new lens was in the Tetons. I especially like the curved horizon.

Here in Yellowstone you can see that the bridge rail curves upwards. The lens does not support the camera’s autofocus feature.

However an 8mm lens has a very wide depth of field which makes focusing less critical as you can see in this image taken at Mono Lake.

At Grand Canyon, the bend in the horizon is amazingly scenic. The lens does not support autoexposure so I set the camera shooting mode to manual, set the lens aperture to f/8 and adjusted to the proper shutter speed.

In both of these photos, you can see that the exposure for both a shaded and sunny scene were correct. Neither the manual focus nor the manual exposure requirements of this lens is a concern.

At Monument Valley I took advantage of the lens’ extreme wide view. Here I was able to take in a 180-degree view to photograph this huge monument within a single image.

The fisheye excels for those of you who like shooting portraits that include the vast surroundings.

At Mesa Verde, we encountered another “tight squeeze”. However, we were able to capture this with the lens’ wide view.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the lens took in not only the winter’s left over snow but the billowing overhead July clouds.

What about the sharpness?

Here I’ve enlarged a small section of one of the above images. You can clearly see the detail in the face, the lettering of the cap and the tufa formations in the background.

I found the sharpness of this inexpensive lens to be very acceptable.

After my short time with this lens, I am no longer skeptical of it’s quality. The images are tack sharp with very good color reproduction. If you’re on the lookout for an ultra-wide, include this lens in your search.

The Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye is also available for other camera models as well: Fuji, Samsung and Canon M mount. Other similar versions with a maximum f/3.5 aperture are available for Canon, Nikon, Sony A mount, Pentax and Olympus 4/3.
Written by: Arnie Lee


About this Photo – Tetons

18th November 2013

“Easy” Scenery

This article is the another in a series of articles that I’ve called “About this photo” to draw attention to a few of those memorable photos that may be hiding in a shoebox or on your hard drive.

Sometimes it seems like you have to really work hard to capture the photograph that’s been bouncing around your head for a long, long time.

Then, there are other times when you hardly have to work at all.

For my two selected scenes below, I think that anyone with a camera couldn’t miss capturing great photographs of these two gorgeous places.

Both were taken in the Grand Teton National Park area this past October. The first was taken at the Jackson Lake Overlook and the second at Oxbow Bend.



This panorama shows you an overview of the area at the Jackson Lake Overlook. You’re looking at a pretty dry Jackson Lake in the foreground. Ordinarily, it’s covered with water but at this time of the year it’s quite depleted in this part of the lake as water has been released during the Spring and Summer months into the Snake River for irrigation of farms in adjoining Idaho.


Most of the scenic areas in the Tetons are well known to all of the visitors. So when I arrived at the overlook there were already a group of photographers in various stages of picturetaking.


This day was quite overcast which added a dramatic feel to the Tetons.

I didn’t have to do any hiking, climbing or setting up here. I walked ahead about 100 feet towards the edge of the lake (dried at this point) and calmly admired the majestic view, waited a few minutes for the clouds to position themselves in front of the distant peaks and clicked.

No muss, no fuss to get this photo. I’m sure that these other visitors had as easy a time as I did capturing this scene.

The Teton Range Looking South




This panorama shows you the view at Oxbow Bend. Here the Snake River makes an abrupt turn creating a pretty water foreground view with the Tetons in the distant background.


Yes, this too is a popular place. It’s one of the busiest places in the park and on this day there were dozens of visitors with loads of photographic equipment just itching to get their keepers.

These photographers are standing along the shoulder of the highway that runs though the park.


For this photograph, I walked about 25 yards down from the highway to a place closer to the level of the river. But that was about all the work that I had to do here.

On this Fall day, the sun was shining over the river and brilliant trees making everything sparkle. The thick, billowy clouds were perfectly positioned behind the Tetons. All I had to do was click-click. The scene was “picture perfect” – perfect for anyone to record the beauty.

Mt Moran from Oxbow Bend, Fall 2013



It’s not always necessary to hike five miles uphill in 100-degree heat to capture that iconic gallery wrap. There are plenty of places that lend themselves to “easy” scenery. And easy doesn’t have to mean a “me too” photograph, a little patience and variation can help you set your photos apart.



Written by: Arnie Lee