Close Up or Far Off-Compose Yourself Challenge

This post is a response to Cee’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge: How your camera is not like your eye.

I call my camera a semi-automatic, a Nikon P610. It has a single lens: 4.3 to 258 mm focal length range (I think they call this a “wide angle zoom”). It has the ability to adjust many things but not change the lens so the only focal length adjustment is to zoom or not.

I wasn’t sure if I had a comfort zone. So I did a couple experiments.

The cormorant on the dolphin:

In this series I like the close up the best. The bird is too small in the other two pictures, and the dolphin isn’t very interesting without it. Somewhere between the 12.5 and 125.4 might have been nice, but the ferry was pulling out.

Raft of seabirds:

I don’t really like any of these very much, but the series gives an idea of the full range of what my lens can do. To get the full raft of birds into the frame means that there are too many other things in the frame and the birds do not contrast much with the water so they don’t grab your eye. In the two close ups you can tell that the birds are there, but they are scattered, it feels like a cacophony not a composition.

From those two sequences I decided to try and use no zoom as my “out of comfort zone” trial. Here are some pictures of the beach taken at 4.3 mm focal length:

What did I learn?

  • I like this focal length best when there is an obvious subject in the foreground. My favorite is the one with Ginger close to me.
  • Mostly stuff is too far away to really capture your attention.
  • The big picture has so many things in it that it is really hard to make your intended subject pop. It might work better for a simpler background with a larger subject.
  • It works better for dogs than birds.

Applying what I learned– I took these pictures today without zoom




10 thoughts on “Close Up or Far Off-Compose Yourself Challenge”

  1. I am impressed with what you posted. I like the photo with ginger too. That is one of the tricks with wide angle or landscape. To need to add some sort of scale and Ginger did the beautifully for you. I like your last three photos. The middle especially. The landscape has enough interest in the sky to pull the viewer in.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This morning I am going through Cee’s challenge and I started with #1 so I am behind. I just spent time with your post, reading it very carefully, and re-reading her directions. I actually do not even know what focal length is, so you see what a beginner I am. I know you took time with this post and I appreciate it; I appreciate your detailed comments because it helps me learn and think about photography. So this is a thank you letter. PS I like the cormorant the best. He looks so regal standing there, and I like the composition.


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