Monthly Archives: August 2012

Long Lenses

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I have always  been attracted to wide angle lenses and the epic stories they tell. Imagine a carnival scene where everything from the hotdog vendors on your far right to the boy and grandfather right up close in front of you to the stuffed animal/whack-a-mole barkers  in the upper left  of the frame are all in focus and either pushed way back or pulled closer into importance enhancing the depth and distance. I like getting close to things, into the near far of it and wide angle lenses call for being right up on your subject (while much of the story telling is happening in your  peripheral vision.)

But lately I have been exploring the other extreme, in long telephoto lenses. They flatten everything out, sucking the space from between the near and far, making it strange and pleasantly two dimensional. The lens lets you paint abstractly,more or less, and entertain geometry and a fictional symmetry. The view is so narrow ( little more then binoculars) that it requires you to look smaller and more distantly, to frame things up and squint.A long lens  makes you the voyeur, distant and secretive and sniper like too and that has always been what kept me from them, I never have liked the perspective of either the false phallus or the sniper.  But the long lens lets you see places you are not, and discover later when looking at the print, whole stories within the story you were first attracted to. This picture of downtown San Francisco is the kind of shot that just knocks me out when I get it home and start to work on it. The deep compression of long space into a flat plane, with graphics and people all juxtaposed like cards in a messy deck.


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