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Using a long lens #photography

Using a long lens in low light isn’t as easy as it sounds. I decided to use a long lens at a memorial to the holocaust victims on Sunday. I don’t have many lenses and so my choice was my usual 18 – 105mm lens or to go with my 55 – 300mm lens. I want to do an art project which will involve candid shots of people using a long lens so I chose the 55 – 300 mm lens to give me some practice and so I could identify the problems. This was one of the pictures:

using a long lens

Light and dark

The first thing to consider when shooting images like this is the metering. Look at the light and dark on this image. I was expecting black clothing and I was going to zoom in for close up shots. I have a choice, spot metering, centre weighted or matrix across the whole image. I would normally choose centre weighted but because of the black clothing, I thought that would cause a problem on some close-ups. We have an even amount of light and dark on this image but on others, the images were unusually dark. I decided to play safe and use matrix metering across the whole of the images.


Mindu Hornick

This is Mindu Hornick, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp where she was sent when she was just 12 years old; 73 years ago. The light and dark across this image are more even and so centre weighted metering might have been better but I had to take the shot quite quickly because the sun had broken through the clouds and gave me more light. I had been coping with the low light by shooting at ISO 400 but when the sun broke through I changed to ISO 100. I was using spot focusing with just one focus point which was tending to move around more than usual because I was shivering a little. I got a reasonable image at f/6.3 on aperture priority and that gave me 1/125 of a second to freeze the movement (both of the subject and the camera).


Using a long lens

When you’re using a long lens, zooming in makes your depth of field shallow so you get your subject sharp and the background blurred. I zoomed out for this shot to get the flowers into the picture. This was before the sun came out and so was at ISO 400. The aperture was the same f/6.3 which again gave me 1/125 of a second. I should mention, that is our mayor Ahmadul Haque MBE in the picture and these pictures were shot in the memorial garden, West Bromwich.

These shots were taken on a chilly morning with a mostly grey sky and the colour of the sky and the cold light makes a huge difference. The cold light makes everyone look quite pale. It is worth considering a warm filter for events like this but I don’t have one for my 300mm lens. Photography is an expensive game!

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