A lens with a view

You may remember that I posted this first image nearly a month ago. If you are a dedicated follower, and one with a good memory, you will also remember that I posted something of a followup to that post a week or so later. That second contribution included a discussion of what I thought was the single, though significant, limitation of Nikon’s 14-24 mm lens which is considered a classic by those who know lots more about lenses than I do. The lens is limited in that it does not easily accept filters. The picture below was taken with a 24-70 all the way out and after having been fitted with a circular polarizing filter. Not a bad shot, but I thought it felt a bit cramped. I would have liked the view to be a bit wider.


This second image was taken with Nikon’s 16-35. Joanna and I happened to be walking along the same stretch where the first photo had been taken a month before. Although the weather was not propitious, I settled myself in the same spot to allow for this comparison. Perhaps I’m turning into something of a landscape photographer, for I am pleased with the somewhat wider view.  When I look into the finder I feel constrained if I cannot see what I see when I pull my eye away from the camera. With the eyes fixed, the human field of vision is approximately 120º both side-to-side and up-and-down.
I mentioned, in yet another recent post, that the 14-24 covers a field of view of 114°, the 24-70 covers 84°, and the 16-35 is more than halfway back toward the 14-24 with a satisfying 107° of coverage. The comparison is enough to convince me that the new lens was a good choice. I should mention that the weather was horrid on the day I took the second photo. We had nearly total cloud cover. Joanna walked on without me as I scrambled down the bank to spend time working with the camera. Upon her return she reported that she experienced two breaks in the clouds, one lasted thirty seconds and the other lasted twenty. I must have captured this shot in one or the other of those very brief periods. Not a great day to be out with the camera, but I was determined.


16 thoughts on “A lens with a view

  1. Holy moly, I missed this one when it came out. I have never seen such a quintessentially Pennsylvania photo before. I bought my tickets home just in time … the homesickness is strong today!

  2. I had never thought about this – but now, when you are saying that a camera lens’ angle should match that of our eyes, it seems straight-forward!

    Comparing these images is intriguing. I agree with Steve S.: neither is like we see the scene, and the first is more like a painting. That said, I still feel they are both ‘correct’ representations as I could imagine these are two different views associated with two different moods and thoughts on your mind in the moment you walk along the creek. As I am still in meditative holiday mode, the second ‘calm’ image speaks more to me at the moment.

  3. Both work well for me, David. With very wide lenses, the use of a polarizer is sometimes problematic. I shot an image this am with the polarizer on my 24-70 and it caused an inconsistency in the blue sky. When you use it the angle to the sun, even if the sky is cloudy somewhat, has to be pretty precise for the effect to be even. You can see this next time if you rotate the polarizer while looking through either the viewfinder or the LCD if using Live View. The deep blue moves across the image. I try to avoid the use of one when shooting at wide angles and save it for controlling the glare on water. Nattering aside, the CP sure does help get the clouds to pop. It’s a fine line. Sometimes the use of contrast control in processing can replace the loss of CP contrast in camera.
    I like the second a bit more for the increased emphasis on the arching trees.

    • So much to learn … you are turning out to be a valued resource and teacher. Thanks. I had noticed that the CP doesn’t treat a deep blue sky evenly, as you pointed out (hadn’t noticed the phenomenon otherwise). But you are correct that there certainly is a trade-off between saturation and pop and that tendency toward unevenness. Now I know, I’ll be especially sure to watch for it – correcting for it would be difficult indeed. Oh … can I assume that someone pretty well versed in PS can generate, on their own (and with a good deal of experience), all of the effects which are packaged as presets in the Nik collection? I always tell my students … ‘If I give you the answer, I’m giving you your daily loaf of bread … if I teach you how to derive the answer on your own, I’m teaching how to bake bread and you’ll eat for a lifetime.’ Nik filters are to a loaf of bread … as PS is the kitchen and wherewithall to bake the loaf yourself …. how’s that for an analogy?

      • I would guess that there are ways to replicate the Nik filters, but they operate by algorithms and I bet the work to do what they do would be complicated and time consuming.
        I’ve always heard that as teaching someone to fish. 🙂

  4. I find it amazing that you can see right through to the bottom of the creek. It’s always so good when we get the time to look beneath the surface of things since what’s beneath is generally so much more complex; more beautiful. On the subject of the clear blue sky, living as I do on the edge of the Northwest Atlantic, a place where Low pressure systems regularly drift right through, heading mostly northeast and also a place so prone to fog, I have come to appreciate the complex texturing that comes from cloud and fog. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism and I agree it’s not what people mostly call beautiful. For me, though, it carries its own complexity, depth and, yes, beauty.

  5. I can understand sometimes wanting to capture exactly what your eye sees. It probably seems more authentic. But, there is something to say for “cropped” versions. Both are lovely.

  6. I’d say the blue sky and HDR made the first view seem more like a painting, while the second view is undoubtedly a photograph. Neither corresponds to the way we see the actual scene with our eyes, so photographic license (akin to poetic license) is a fact of life.

    • I must have done something ‘right’ when processing the first, for it isn’t an HDR – just a single image processed with LR. Perhaps a bit of a boost in clarity (mid-tones contrast) is what did it? With regard to HDR, I use it (and tone-mapping) sparingly and am still not sure where I stand on use of these practices. When I see HDR images that have been way overdone by other folks, they are off-putting. I have convinced myself when used lightly and sparingly, they can add a ‘feel’ that I like. The ‘whole processing’ thing is still something I’m unsure about and have been discussing such matters with Steve G. recently. What’s your take on the issue I wonder?

      • You fooled me, because I thought the first was an HDR image. You must have had magic light when you took the picture.

        Most of the HDR photos I see are indeed overwrought, at least to my taste, and seem unnatural—but then painting is “unnatural,” as are all artistic media. In the end it seems to be just a matter of preference.

        I saw your interchange with Steve G. and thought you two should try your proposed experiment of starting with a ‘neutral” RAW file from a third party and see how different (or similar) your renditions turn out.

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