What they say is true, 55mm focal length looks natural to the human eye. But there is so much more to it. It can be a comforting medium size landscape. It can have a vintage look and at the right time of day, and at the right distance, can make colors pop similar to the Kodachrome film of old. Or it can just give you simple gems like this photo.
Technically speaking, I’ve discovered that 55mm is not good for everything. It does not do well with shallow depth-of-field when you’re close to the subject. The result will be flat, there will be little 3D separation between the subject and background without selective focus. It will look poorly “Photoshopped”. A wide aperture with 55mm might be okay at longer distances, but generally you want some depth-of-field with this focal length.
You can make the case the above photo should be cropped to bring us closer to the boat and boy. However, I thought much of the surrounding landscape was essential to not only telling a story with the picture but also conveying mood and sensibility. Nothing expansive was necessary but a moderate portion of water and trees needed to be visible. 55mm is perfect for situations like this.
Many thanks to Cascadia Fly Shop of Corvallis, Oregon for being an amazing fishing guide and for accidentally being a great photography location scout too.
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