Tag Archives: Canon 24-105 L

Broken Lenses and Emotional Impact

Cross on St. Vincent's Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2016

Cross on St. Vincent’s
Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2016

My Canon 24-105 L lens is broken.

Well, maybe not broken exactly, but it’s developed a habit of creeping.  If you point it straight up, for example, and set it to 105 mm, it will slowly creep down to 24 mm because the mechanism that holds the zoom at a fixed focal length apparently has become loose.  I’ll be sending it in to Canon for warranty service, but in the meantime I’ve been needing to hold the barrel by hand if my exposure is more than a fraction of a second.

For the image in this post, the lens was pointed up fairly steeply at the cross on the roof of the old St. Vincent’s hospital (now a hotel) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but I checked it before I tripped the shutter and it seemed to be holding steadily in place.  I was wrong, though. Over the course of the exposure (probably somewhere in the 10 to 30 second range, I forget exactly), it crept back a bit, effectively zooming out as the exposure was made.

Turns out I like the result.  This troubles me a bit, because I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would seek to achieve optical effects by moving the camera around during the course of an exposure.  It’s always seemed kind of gimmicky to me.  Nevertheless, I think the image here has some emotional impact, at least for me.  Though the effect in this case was produced by accident, certainly it seems possible to do the same thing intentionally.  I may have to rethink my position on moving the camera around during long exposures.

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Foresight Versus Serendipity

Lonely Path, Rolling Bluffs Near Fort Collins, Colorado, 2013

Lonely Path, Rolling Bluffs
Near Fort Collins, Colorado, 2013

If you look at this photograph and feel like it conveys a sense of motion, then you have made me very happy.  That’s really the point behind this photograph.

Look at the photograph closely, and you’ll see that there are a lot of curving lines in places where they really shouldn’t be.  The horizon, for example, which roughly coincides with the line of dark trees.  If you look at the left end of the line of trees, you’ll see that it curves upward pretty severely, where in reality it should be pretty flat.  If you look at each of the corners of the frame, you also may be able to see a similar, pronounced curvature.

The reason for this curvature is that I photographed this scene with a Canon 24-105 L lens close to its wide angle of 24mm.  Shooting at a wide angle like this introduces barrel distortion into the image, creating the curvature this image displays at the edges of the frame.  This kind of distortion can be easily corrected in digital editing after the fact, but for this image, I really liked the effect precisely because I felt like it created the sense of motion I’ve been talking about in this post.

Thing is, though, I really didn’t plan this ahead of time.  The reason I photographed at this wide angle was simply because I wanted to include all of the elements in this scene.  I really wasn’t thinking about the barrel distortion that would result, in fact, I completely forgot about it.  Its effect on the resulting image, therefore, wasn’t the result of foresight, but rather serendipity.

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