Same Old Park, New Old Lens

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I’ve blogged before about how little difference it makes what camera we use to take our pictures, but I have until now ignored the other side of the equation- how much difference a lens can make.

Fortunately for me, a great lens does not have to cost too much. Many recent cameras, with cheap adapters, can use pretty well any lens ever made and this opens up to us all of the ancient lenses in junk shops and on ebay. All of the pictures from this page, for example are taken with a Zeiss 35mm which was ridiculously cheap online.

The German Zeiss company are legendary in photography for making high quality (and expensive) lenses. After the war, when Germany was split in two, there were two versions of Zeiss and this lens was produced by the East German one- they sold the lenses to the west at prices that undercut their West German former colleagues in order to bring in Western Currency.

It has to be focused manually, which today may seem like a chore, but again with the latest cameras, is easy and gets to be fun. The point is that the pictures it takes, don’t look like those from modern lenses:

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What I particularly like about this lens is what happens when I get nearer to things- it is a great lens for close ups:

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What you start to notice with pictures like this is that the areas in focus are not the only bits that make a picture work- the blurred background is equally important. The Japanese call this blurring Bokeh and this lens is seen by fans as a Bokeh king:

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I sometimes take pictures with this lens that are just blur, I love the bokeh so much:

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There are some photographers incidentally who call what you see above “Bokeh Balls”

Normally, though, I step back slightly and enjoy the contrast between a small area that is sharp and the bokeh behind as with this reed by the side of the lake:

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It is the kind of lens which pushes you to see the world in a different way, which is what photography is all about for me. Even after a walk in the park it doesn’t stop as I put the cap from a bottle down on a table in the cafe:

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Canyons and Cave Art

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This blog has always been about challenging myself to see familiar places in new ways. Having lived in Tunbridge Wells for all of the last ten years and then before that for virtually the whole of my childhood, I had been saving my photography for trips away and holidays rather than ever on my days at home.

About a year ago, I started this blog as a way of changing all that- as well as trying to discover locations that were nearby but new to me, I would go out to the places that I knew too well and try to re-see them.

The Wellington rocks are an example of this- I went there regularly as a child and then again when my son was young, but how now to make it different?

My plan at first was to try to photograph in tight so that the rocks would look like a grander canyon:

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Or concentrate on the contrast between the rocks and the vegetation between them:

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Or step back slightly to create a bit of foreground:

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But then I spotted amidst the normal graffiti, a bit of rock art:

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Since visiting the Pech Merle caves in France in the summer, I have been fascinated by cave art. There, as in many places in Europe, prehistoric man decorated caves with paintings which have somehow survived to the present day. These weren’t caves where they lived. Instead they sought out particularly beautiful locations which they must have viewed religiously and decorated them. There is a strict no photography rule in Pech Merle which I would have been happy to keep to until I saw how vibrant the real paintings are compared to the flat and lifeless reproductions on the postcards. I managed to secretly snap this example before being warned off and in my development have tried to bring out how it might have looked as the painter held up a flickering torch:

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Astonishingly, thatĀ  painting was created around 29,000 years ago towards the end of theĀ  middle stone age. We know that the high rocks in Tunbridge Wells were also occupied at the same time, so were these and the Wellington Rocks also being decorated at the same time?

If so, on the sandstone, it would have disappeared only shortly after, but in amidst all the lettering, there are a few other examples of recent attempts at drawing in the stone:

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Dunorlan Desert

I’ve blogged many times from Dunorlan before, so after taking a summer holiday break from this blog, I thought I’d shake myself into action by pushing myself into seeing it in a different way.

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Infrared colour seemed to do the trick- these won’t be to everyone’s taste and I’m not even sure myself. The colour palette in shots like the one above, remind me a bit of a desert, hence the title.

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