Helen Bartlett / Family Portraiture

How Lens Choice Affects our Point of View


Using a 35mm and an 85mm to provide variety in my images

At the heart of all photography is light and we had the most incredible light for my recent shoot with Olga, our fourteenth family photography session.  We arrived at the Park very early and the mist was rising and the sun beginning to break through, it was absolutely magical, one of the most beautiful mornings I think I’ve ever witnessed.  It was such a pleasure to work be out and about on such a beautiful day add it’s always brilliant to photograph Ana and Juan-Pablo who are such fun to be around and such naturals in front of the camera.

Ana is particularly keen on clapping games and I thought they would be a perfect activity for a shot. The children would be standing still but engaging in something together, playing and having fun so I could let them play while I worked with the light to create something really magical.

As the rhymes were clapped and the children laughed, I moved around, working to get the best angle to the light.

The glade of trees we were playing in was beautiful.  Enough shade to be able to get definition in the silhouettes, enough light streaming through to get the sense of the magical misty morning with the shafts of sunlight. Pointing the camera straight into the light gave me a touch of flare on the right-hand side which adds a cinematic feel to the top image while in both the light wrapped around the children creating this beautiful half silhouette.

I’ve included two pictures here because I love how they have such different feels.

The first shot, taken on my Canon EF 35mm f1.4L Mark2 lens makes a real feature of the sunlight coming through the trees.  By shooting wider and using the space around the children we get the feeling they are in their own magical landscape, not a sole in sight.  IT’s as if time has stood still, the picture could have been taken fifty years ago or today.  We wonder at the beauty of nature and the close relationship between these amazing siblings. The patches of sunlight and the long shadows give a real sense of space which enhances the impact of the image.

The second shot I came in closer and used my Canon EF 85 1.4L lens.  I wanted to cut out the direct shafts of sunlight and focus on the graphics, the lines of the trees, the silhouettes of the children with their hands up in their clapping game.  The light is softer here, without the sun in the shot.  It feels more mysterious to me, we get a real sense of the fog that surrounded us.

I love them both and thought that by presenting them side by side you can see the difference lens and angle make to a picture.  Both pictures work beautifully but they are quite different, and this is one of the things I love most about photography, finding the ways to create something new and unique from the environment and the wonderful subjects I’m lucky enough to photography.