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On 50mm and Capturing Vibe

(All images taken with Sony A99 fitted with a Minolta 50mm/ f 1.7)

The 50mm lens always holds a special place in my heart for it was the focal length with which I started photography.  This Minolta 50mm beauty is the first lens in my armory and especially turns me on.  I am glad that my new addition of the A99 gives a new lease of life to it which has otherwise been used with a crop-sensor camera.

Without much of a convincing argument but purely by convention, the 50mm has long been considered a normal focal length.  It gives a field of vision which, as most old-school photographers have been taught to think, resembles how the human eyes see the world (no wonder most cameras came with a "kit" 50mm lens in the old days).  Undoubtedly, this claim doesn't hold up to any serious scrutiny.  You may as well fit almost just any lens on a camera and zoom with your feet.  The claim will become very pale and not be worthy of an argument.  I would rather be contended with the belief that each lens gives unique feelings to any image from its focal length, optical quality, color rendition and so on.

The 50mm is special in the way that it can easily accentuate the primary subject in an image.  But no focal length is magic until it is in the right hands. On this note, I have the chutzpah to consider myself half an expert in street photography, a genre I wandered into in 2008.   I have some surefire, fool-proven tips to get a decent streetshot.  For capturing the vibe in the street is an intense interest in the street photographer community, I am giving out this particular tip.

This is too easy to be true and you can do it:
1) Turn your camera on and get it always ready to shoot (tweak the focus and exposure combo beforehand  -- use zone focusing if you know how) when you are on the street
2) Look around and there will be an interesting background presenting itself round the corner
3) Rehearse in your mind how a primary subject may be composed in the final image
4) Wait a bit until that imagined scene unfolds before your eyes and shoot
5) If 2 and 4 happen simultaneously, shoot.  Your always ready camera will make your day.

Now the essence of the tip: the primary subject has to be at ease which will work magic and highlight the vibe of the place.  Trust me.  Try and you will see.


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