A few months ago I traded in some photography gear for the Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 I heard mixed reviews about this compact lens but I wanted to try it out for myself. Up till now I had been mostly using the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 and the Sigma 35mm f/1.4.
Both are very good but I wanted something a little wider because I was interested in the distortion. I see lens distortion as a chance to get creative and to capture images in a whole new way.
My two favourite photographers Daido Moriyama and Jeanloup Sieff shared three loves in common: women, street photography and the wide angle lens. Combine all three in their hands and you have nothing short of magic.
Jeanloup Sieff’s portraits of women with their elongated bodies look as if they could have been painted by Matisse. Daido Moriyama’s urban street scenes sparkle with grittiness and life. Both photographers work with the distortion of the wide-angle lens and both challenge our perception of their subject by doing so.
Distortion occurs when some norm is altered. It then challenges our understanding of visual reality. Being confronted with distortion can strip us of our illusions and provide a new space to step into where our beliefs about reality are suspended and questioned. It acts as a gateway into another form of seeing.
Use distortion to tell a story.
Daido Moriyama is also one of the most important photo book makers of our time.
His partly unfocused and highly grainy black-and-white photos of prostitutes, gangsters, passengers in subways, stray animals and various other urban Tokyo experiences are pieced together into books that tell various stories depending on who is looking at them. Each image seems to tell it’s own story.
I have only recently started using my 24mm f/2.8. I use it mostly as a walk around lens photographing whatever captures my attention. I would like to start using it intentionally to see what stories I can tell with it. I would love the opportunity to use this lens to photograph women. I may even try to do some self-portraits.
I photograph in both colour and black and white but I prefer black and white photography over colour. It’s isn’t that one is better than the other. They’re just different.
I have a different instinctual response to black and white photography than to colour. Black and white is more emotional for me and I find that monochrome has stronger elements of abstraction and symbolism. I feel that monochrome distils the essence of what is being photographed; it’s more soulful and democratic.