Friday, 30 December 2016

366 Project Month Ten - When life intereferes

As well as a single photo per day in September, I also gave myself a restriction on the use of lenses. For the first ten days I used a standard 55mm prime, the second ten were taken with a telephoto 70-200mm zoom, and the final ten were taken with a wide-angle 16-35mm zoom. One lens that didn’t get a look in was my 85mm, so my initial plans for October were to put that through its paces. However, sometimes life gets in the way.

October begins

I remember on October 1, just after taking my first photo I was ready to put the camera away; then I suddenly woke up that September has ended. Thirty days had gone so fast. I could now take more than one photo.

I had a few friends asking about portraits in previous months (since April ended), and after restricting myself to an 85mm it seemed like a good month to try to take some more as it was the mainly what I had in mind when I purchased the lens.

I also found out an 85mm lens is close to useless for photographing Melbourne seagulls* if you want a reaction from them. With a 50mm or 35mm, you can normally get close enough to them to get a nice shot of them leaping into the air to get away from the camera. With an 85mm, at the distances where you can still get focus, they just glare at you...

like a boss.
* The seagulls at Niagara Falls weren't even intimidated by having a wide-angle lens just inches away from them. So cocky!

I also came to realise just how damn sharp my 85mm lens is. Below is a photo of the docklands, which may not seem all that interesting at web resolutions, but the detail in the full image is incredible.

The full photo at web resolution.

100% crop from above photo.

Then, halfway through October, something happened to make me give up my plans. My work asked me, with a week’s notice, to go overseas.


When I knew I was going to Canada, I did consider to stick to my original plan of only using the 85mm lens. Halfway to Canada, at Hong Kong airport, I decided to keep my options open and continued to use it.

However, once I had arrived in Toronto, I wanted to capture more of the scene around me, and that called for a 35mm lens. I’m sure I could have stuck with the 85mm lens, and made it work, but I needed to remember this project was also supposed to be fun.

Taken with a 35mm lens,

I had read about the World Press Photo exhibition in Toronto in a throwaway comment on a gear related forum. I made a note that I’d like to see it if I had time, but had no idea where in Toronto it was. After my first day in Canada, I had an hour to kill before dinner with colleagues, and decided to take a walk with camera. Someone recommended a walk that would take me down to the lake. On my walk back I saw a random building that looked really cool so decided to look inside and there, sure enough, was the exhibition I had hoped to see.

As my 366 project was not my main consideration for my time in Canada, I much preferred taking my little 35mm camera with me – as it is both much smaller and lighter than my 85mm lens and camera combo, and allows photos that can better show the environment I am in.

However, where I am most glad I broke away with the restriction is during my trip to the Niagara Falls. I only could have gotten the below shot with a wide-angle lens, and I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself as nearly as much there if I had to carry multiple lenses with me.

However, this didn’t mean I had to abandon the 85mm lens completely, and I managed to get one portrait done in Canada after all. After missing sunset, this photo was taken in a rather dark corner of the same building the World Press Photo exhibition was in. Having the ability to open the lens on a full-frame camera to f1.4 with image stabilisation came in super handy here!

The Time Zone Challenge

For the spirit of the 366 challenge, I decided that days should be determined by whatever time zone I was in.  Departing Canada, my flight left at 1:50am on Tuesday, and would arrive at 5:00am on Wednesday morning in Hong Kong. This gave me less than two hours to get my shot. Luckily, an airport can offer some interesting scenes.

And so October came to an end, still with me overseas, but now in a similar timezone to Australia at least.

You can read about my experiences from other months here.
If you want to follow along in my journey, you can see how my 366 project is progressing on Instagram: @andrew366

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