A Morning Out with the 50mm

This snowless winter has me burned out. It’s cold and bitter and everything is brown. I discussed in my last post how this winter is affecting me emotionally.

BUT FINALLY we got lucky and received a Saturday that reached temps nearing the 67 degree mark. After dealing with the seemingly neverending ice-biome lifestyle, it was–and we dared to say it later on during our walk–a little too warm.

So, we decided to get out of the house as soon as we could and head to the nearest hiking ground to enjoy the dewy morning and the earthy breeze. It wasn’t spring, but I pretended it was only a thaw away. I ignored the brown everything and drunk up the sunshine like a teen on a summer afternoon.

And I brought the 50mm I’d been given on my birthday, the one I had yet to be given a chance to play with.

The lens: it’s a Nikkor 1.8D, which means it has an aperture ring and is basically useless when attached to the body of my camera (unless I’m doing still-life, and even then it’s kind of a pain). I wanted the aperture ring, however, because a standard Nikkor lens does not allow me to change the aperture when it’s detached from the camera. It simply closes right up like a tulip at dusk, and requires the tedious task of rigging the aperture open with a tiny piece of folded paper.

I’ve been told the nifty fifty is one of the best lenses to freelens with. Time to put this notion to the test.

As you can see, I had a lot of trouble at first. I couldn’t focus on things far away, and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t get any good shots of a moving kid (or a moving anything). Since I can do all of this with my 40mm, I was stumped, and discouraged, and I began to worry I’d made a mistake in getting this lens.

But then I decided to try something new, something my 40mm has a little trouble with: I got closer.

I found tiny details in things. I looked for the splashes of sunlight I’ve never quite been able to capture with the 40mm or even the 35mm. And I learned right away that the 50mm loves light. All light.

Bokeh heaven. And once I got the hang of things, I managed to get a few shots of Goo and Chris. The nifty fifty is everything I imagined and more. It gives me the dreamy blur I’ve always hoped to grab with my other lenses, and provides a brand-new and unique look to my work. It did take me a long time to get the hang of it, and I know I still have a lot to learn about freelensing with this lens.

But I’d love to share what I’ve learned so far…

A few tips & Tricks on how to freelens with the 50mm:

1. Get closer.

I thought I could use this lens like my 40mm (my primary freelensing buddy) but I soon realized this is not the same lens and will not provide the same results. Getting closer showed me the tiny little details my 40mm had been missing.

2. Look for light.

Especially sunlight! The 50mm absolutely adores it. I changed my white balance to “cloudy” to really bring out that golden glow.

3. Take lots of pictures to get the hang of it.

Try focusing on different parts of the subject each time you press the shutter button. That way when you finally see them on the computer, you’ll see something new in each shot.

At first I was worried when I couldn’t get it right, but now that I’m beginning to understand my lens and what it can do, I totally agree with the others: the 50mm is one of the best lenses to freelens with. And I believe not just us freelensers, but every photographer in general, should have one of these in their collection.

Have a 50mm? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it! Feel free to post links to your portfolio below so I can enjoy what you’ve come up with.

All images © Lina Forrester

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