A Matter of Perspective, or, Why Every Photographer Should Rent New Lenses
Ever gone vacationing to a foreign country or new state and had that feeling in your gut. You know the one, right? (No, not gut feelings from unpredictable local cuisine) That unique blend of excitement, mindfulness, unfamiliarity, and panic? Yeah, THAT’S it. It’s the experience of new sights, tastes and smells. It’s our primitive human brains trying to seek out novel situations (but also keep us just a little bit afraid, yet alive, in unfamiliar places).
Another way travel explores that boundary between familiarity and novelty is how we engage with different perspectives along the way. As a photojournalist (and, hell, as a person living in the Midwest) I often fall into the trap of shooting the same (safe) kinds of photos, follow the same paths, run into the same people, etc.
So how do you break out of that proverbial rut and “take a vacation” with your images? Just take a different perspective. Let me explain.
As a member of Canon Professional Services, for an extremely modest yearly sum, members a given access to a huge array of Canon lenses, flashes, and camera bodies to demo (for free) for a short period as evaluation loans for future purchases (Not to mention steep discounts on repairs and loaner equipment to keep you shooting while your gear is in the shop). And I have to say, I take advantage of this membership benefit, liberally. I’ll generally use a lens rental service for client-focused work where I know I’ll need a particular piece of gear for a particular shot on a particular day. But when I need to just break out of a visual, creative rut or want to see the world in a different way, the CPS Evaluation loans are nothing short of perfect.
Case in point, I just had the chance to test out the Canon 100mm f/2.8 L IS macro lens.
And while I didn’t have any particular macro-focused (a little accidental photography humor there) assignments or shoots in the week-long evaluation period, I did take advantage of every opportunity to explore my photographic world through that (practically unreal) perspective.
Put simply … This. Thing. Changes. Your. Perspective.
Initially, I just toyed around with how ridiculously close you can get to your subject and what kind of details you can resolve. Now, I’d used the older version of this lens around ten years ago back in college on some one-off shoot. While it did give me that sweet life-size 1:1 magnification, I just never found it all that usable in real-world situations (uncontrolled lighting, tracking moving subjects, etc.)
So, in comes the updated L version with Image Stabilization. Luckily, I had the chance to demo this lens while I was working a quick editorial video project to really put it through its paces. And boy does it deliver as a piece of my video kit. While it obviously benefits from support on a monopod or tripod, I found myself able to lean on the IS in situations where I didn’t have the chance to set up or wanted a less static image. Here’s one of the short video pieces I produced for the Cap Times — see if you can tell how I integrated those 100mm macro shots into the production and help provide some visual variety and personality
Pretty slick, huh? Put simply, this lens (and all the lenses I check out from CPS) are one of the best ways I know to get out of a visual rut. If any of you guys are interested in checking out the membership, take a look at the website and see if those evaluations (and big discounts on rush repairs!) are a good fit for your photography. Cheers!