On Wednesday afternoon as I left home, I grabbed the camera in case I came across anything worth shooting. The nifty fifty was mounted on the front, and seeing as how I didn’t figure I’d even use the camera, I figured that was good enough. Two hours later, I’m at the Franklin Park Zoo and kicking myself for not bringing a different lens. The 50mm f/1.8 doesn’t zoom in or out. It is roughly the focal length of our eyes. I can’t get closer to the animals, nor can I capture a wider shot. I can’t even go macro the way I can with two of my other lenses. What I’m left with is a challenge. I can either throw my hands up in the air and give up or I can make due with what I have and try to use the strengths of the lens to my advantage.
It’s a fast lens, perfect for low light, and the overcast skies combined with dimly lit interior locations dictated that I use a wide aperture and turn up the ISO. The wide aperture gave me a very narrow depth of field, and the fast focus helped with the moving subjects. As some of them were moving quite often, I switched into single-servo auto focus to see exactly what was in focus. Continuous-servo mode doesn’t display which target it locks onto.
Given that the zoo was nearly empty being a weekday, I was able to take my time composing shots, however by the time I had all of my photos loaded into Lightroom, I wasn’t all too impressed. There were a few shots that stood out, but after having processed them, they still lacked what I was looking for. Opting to try something different, I dumped a few shots out of Lightroom into HDR Efex Pro and a few of these images are the result.
I spent most of the day trying to either capture a portrait of a beautiful animal or trying to tell a story with a photo. The above photos of the mandrill and silverback gorilla come across as portaits in my eyes. As I was crouched in front of the gorilla pen, a child stepped in front of me and stared through the glass. I think the faint image of the gorilla somehow captured the moment. Not bad for challenging myself to use the less than ideal lens that I found myself with.