Fishing with a 55mm Lens

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.

fly fishing mckenzie river oregon photo
Taking a break from catch and release fly-fishing on the McKenzie River.

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.

Salmon Street Springs

salmon street springs fountain portland oregon

“I have a photography assignment for you… Salmon Street Springs Fountain.”

Recently we had a heat wave in Portland, Oregon. Here that is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more which may not be hot compared to your summer weather but it’s scorching to local residents. The fountain in downtown Portland was recommended to me as a photo opportunity because during the summer, and especially during a heat wave, people are likely to be playing in the water.

It may seem cliche’ but fountain shots are always fun and sometimes you have a white balance challenge, especially during sunset, when this photo was shot. The first photo you see above is my favorite of the session. The fountain had changed and I didn’t think the spray was appealing to the camera. As the sunset descended towards the horizon people were going home for the day. But I decided to hang out more and as you can see above, I got a bit lucky.

There is an explosion of water behind her. You see so many photos of kids running from actual explosions these days it’s refreshing to see a kid running from the soft and playful explosion of water instead. It’s how it should be.

salmon street springs fountain portland oregon

This second photo is busy. You can make the case the buildings in the background are a distraction. I like this second photo of Salmon Street Springs anyway. It captures everything that was happening at that moment. How many different stories are at play here? Also, this was shot at a 55mm focal length which I love for its realism.

Exploring and being spontaneous on your own is good. Planning your own photo shoots is good too. But sometimes you’ll be rewarded if you listen and take others up on their recommendations. I really didn’t feel like going downtown that day but now I’m happy that I did.