The camera lens is the eye of
photography, but it s an eye quite different from your own. To produce
strong, effective pictures, you must make the lens your eye as well;
you must learn to see as the camera sees.
That is not difficult to do, and in fact, it can be fascinating
adventure. Cameras such as DSLR let you look right through the lens you
will use to make the picture, allowing you to see exactly what you will
get. The more pictures you make with your camera and lenses, the easier
it becomes to visualize how a photograph will look without even having
to pick up the camera.
The differences between eyes and lenses are numerous and significant.
You have only one set of eyes, but a camera may have many different
eyes available, each with greater capabilities than your own. Camera
lenses can reach out and see farther, and with greater clarity, than
you can. They can make things bigger or smaller from a single
viewpoint, while you would have to move closer to or farther from a
subject to get the same effect. They can capture subjects that are
enormously large or incredibly small and can render everything in a
size that is convenient for your own eyes to appreciate.
Camera lenses can focus at much closer distances than your eyes can and
with greater precision. They can isolate just one detail sharply as
your eyes do, but with a controllable degree of surrounding blur not
offered by normal vision. On the other hand, lenses can see everything
equally sharp all at once. Your eyes must flit from point to point,
scanning the scene, to obtain a comparable effect.
Lenses can encompass a wider view or narrow down to a far more
selective field than your eyes take in. to do the same, you must turn
your head from side to side or concentrate your attention on only one
small portion of the total field. However, you still cannot change the
size of the image you see, as a lens can.
These and other optical differences give photography much of its
versatility, its ability to provide us with familiar images as well as
images that astound us, stretch our imagination, stir our deepest
emotions and expand our vision.
One part of learning to use lenses is discovering how to product the
kinds of images your eyes normally see. This is a matter of using lens
characteristics to simulate or reproduce human vision. Another part is
learning to use the unique properties of various lenses expressively
having these other kinds of "seeing" at your service is one of the most
exciting aspects of photography.
Using lenses effectively is not a matter of becoming a technical
virtuoso; it is simply a matter of communication. You use photography
to capture things you want to remember, to re-experience them, and to
share them with others, you use photography to express yourself, your
moods, your feelings, your reactions (in beautiful, powerful, effective
You can do a great deal in photography using just one normal lens. You
can do considerably more with a selection of lenses, because they give
you other ways of seeing and of saying things visually.
Let's take a look on what you can do and how to do it with all the
lenses available. How to choose them for the expressive effects you
want and how to use them to obtain those effects.
Let's start looking and seeing.