Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Project: Shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Amherst, Massachussets
    Posts
    81
    Real Name
    Doug Anderson

    Project: Shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    It is widely known he hated cropping. In order to limit the extraneous stuff in his shots, he would find a place with the geometry he wanted minus the drek and wait until someone wandered into the "set."

    I don't know if this is true of everything, especially the really spontaneous shots. I also don't know if his printer did any cropping for him. I'd have to see the contact sheetsProject: Shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it..

  2. #2
    Momo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    177
    Real Name
    Darren

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Who or what is "HCB"? Sorry, but mind reading is a gift I have yet to receive.

  3. #3
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    20,025
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Momo View Post
    Who or what is "HCB"?
    Henri Cartier-Bresson.

    I think it is useful if we always explain who or what we mean when we slide into our own 'shorthand'. Not everyone else will always know what we mean.

    For me the mystery word is 'drek'.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Chiang Mai, Thailand
    Posts
    77
    Real Name
    Val Mansfield

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    When he said 50mm what format was he in? 35 mm, cropped, the old 120? It does make a difference.

    I don't think i would want to be tied to the equivalent of 80mm.

  5. #5
    rpcrowe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Southern California, USA
    Posts
    13,314
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Darren...

    I think Doug is referring to Henri Cartier Bresson. I don't really think that the photojournalists of his era used the 50mm as their primary tool simply because they liked that focal length and thought that it was the best for their style of shooting. Instead, I think that the style of shooting evolved around the available lenses for their 35mm equipment. IMO, the great 35mm photographers of the past, including Bresson used the 50mm lens as a primary tool because, there were actually few other lenses available which could conveniently be used with the early series Leica cameras without resorting to an auxillary viewfinder.

    The 35mm Leica was an absolute innovation in photography. For the first time, a photographer could use an inconspicious camera for serious photography. HCB painted his Leica black to make it even more incomspicious.

    Regarding cropping... the 35mm B&W stock of that era was still in its infancy as a still camera film and the quality was not superb. It could not really stand extreme cropping. Again, I think that HCB's technique might have evolved from the equipment and materials he was using...

    It was not until the M-series Leicas and the S-series Nikons; that rangefinder cameras had interchangeable lenses which could be used with their integral viewfinder and rangefinder. Contax and Canon rengefinders were no better and the SLR's of that era, such as the Exacta, were slow and unwieldy to use.

    The early photojournalists did not have the plethora of varied lenses available to them that today's photographer takes for granted. The Leica Visoflex reflx housing was (by today's standards) a crude attempt to allow rangefinder Leicas to use longer lenses.

    The first M-series Leica I used was the M-2 and it could accept only 35mm, 50mm and 90mm lenses without using an auxillary viewfinder. Concurrent with the M-series Leicas, were the great Nikon rangefinders, the S-series. The Nikon SP had the greatest capability to use interchangeable lenses with the built-in viewfinder. This could frame 28-135mm lenses. I thought that was really wonderful but, a 28mm to 135mm lens selection would be looked down upon by today's DSLR photographers as totally inadequate.

    Along the same lines, we often hear that wedding photographers absolutely need a range of lenses from UWA to the 200mm f/2.8L (series). We tend to forget that weddings were very often shot in the past with cameras that incorporated a single fixed shooting lens: the twin lens Rolleiflex series. Even when the medium format SLR camera became the vogue for weddings, the photographer most often shot with no more than three lenses. Quite often, Hasselblad setups included only the 50mm, 80mm and 150mm lenses. That is all I ever owned for my Hasselblad equipment.

    We are living in an era in which equipment is available for even the beginning photographer that would have awed the great photographers of the past. I am just realing a book on National Geographic phtography which shows a photographer using a crude camera over 30 feet long simply to shoot macro shots. This book shows another photographer who fabricated a giant float for using flash powder to illuminate underwater shots.

    However, I would bet that the next 50 to 100 years will bring innovations that will make our state of the art equipment look like the equpment used 50 to 100 years ago.

    For Donald... "Drek" is a old Yiddish term meaning solid excrement...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 2nd May 2012 at 04:05 PM.

  6. #6
    AndyB1975's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    East Sussex, UK
    Posts
    101
    Real Name
    Andy

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    For Donald... "Drek" is a old Yiddish term meaning solid excrement...
    Well you learn something new everyday! 'Drek' will now enter my vocabulary

    I love my Nikon 50mm 1.8. I use it exclusively for all trophy shots for my other hobbie of fishing (or should I call it a passion/way of life?). The detail and clarity are brilliant and on a crop sensor camera it shows any fish at their true size and shape. I also use it for self take photgraphy if I ever actually catch one worthy of taking a picture and its great for this too. Not sure I could use it as a walk around lens though, I would constantly feel under gunned.

  7. #7
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    20,025
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    For Donald... "Drek" is a old Yiddish term meaning solid excrement...
    Yep, I'm with Andy. I don't know anyone who will know what that means. So I can go round all day using it!

  8. #8
    thatguyfromvienna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Posts
    102
    Real Name
    Alexander Rose

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Unless you meet some German speaker, since "Dreck" means dirt here too.
    Always lovely to see how much these two languages influenced one another.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Amherst, Massachussets
    Posts
    81
    Real Name
    Doug Anderson

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Henry Cartier-Bresson. Sorry.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Amherst, Massachussets
    Posts
    81
    Real Name
    Doug Anderson

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    If the Yiddish origin of "Drek" is correct I am misusing it and will attempt to mend my ways. I did not mean to suggest that I was photographing people surrounded by turds. I should probably say "extraneous stuff."

    Cheers,

    Doug

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    52
    Real Name
    Richard

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." ---Henri Cartier-Bresson

    I wonder, if Cartier-Bresson was so methodical and cerebral about photographs, how he ever got past his worst photos! But, he obviously did.

  12. #12

    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Amherst, Massachussets
    Posts
    81
    Real Name
    Doug Anderson

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    RP Crowe, thank you for your explanation. If lens availability was the deciding factor for HCB, he certainly made fine use of it. I'm studying his compositions right now and in working with the 50 I hope to learn something of how he chose his subjects, locations, etc. He was a fantastic intuitive geometer.

  13. #13
    thatguyfromvienna's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Vienna, Austria
    Posts
    102
    Real Name
    Alexander Rose

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Richard, with the means we have today with digital photography, I'd say you can safely add another zero to that number...
    Last edited by thatguyfromvienna; 2nd May 2012 at 08:34 PM. Reason: Because I was too stupid to choose reply with quote

  14. #14
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    16,326
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Project: shoot with a 50mm lens only and try to discover why HCB preferred it.

    Quote Originally Posted by thatguyfromvienna View Post
    Richard, with the means we have today with digital photography, I'd say you can safely add another zero to that number...
    Hey, I'm half way there then

    In about another three years, I should start to take better ones

    (I do agree with your sentiment though)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •