week six — shelling

man, i love this lens.  back in week two, i rambled about all the glories of a fast prime lens that could capture moments with little noise and without a tripod while maintaining superb image quality…and then i used the lens to take a long exposure with a tripod and a slow aperture…whoops.  but today, i’m posting a shot that more accurately showcases what this lens can do.

but first, some background.  my family is vacationing on sanibel island for the holidays this year, and apparently this island is very well known for its shelling.  i think sea shells are pretty cool, but the idea of shelling doesn’t really enthuse me.  nevertheless, my dad and i were walking along one of the beaches doing some casual shelling, and a group of gulls that were lounging on the shore nearby suddenly took off, buzzing our heads as they flew out to sea.  my camera was hanging around my neck and was set to a fast aperture (so that i’d have a shallow depth of field when i took close-ups of the shells we found), and i scarcely had time to angle the lens up and snap a shot from the hip before the gulls were gone.

the fast aperture/short shutter speed allowed the gulls to be frozen, despite the rapidity of their movements.  the fast aperture also created a short depth of field, which i think had a pretty cool affect of leaving the first bird out of focus, the next “row” of birds tack sharp, and the rest of the background slightly fuzzy.  with most other lenses in my arsenal, both the freezing of the movements and the extent of the shallow depth of field would have been impossible, not to mention the result would have had lower image quality.

the only downside to this super-fast aperture in an environment like this is that the required shutter speed bumped up against my camera’s limit.  in other words, the shutter speed should have been faster than 1/4000s, but that’s the fastest my camera can shoot.  this means that more light hits the sensor than it really should, so the resulting image is over-exposed.  luckily, i was shooting in RAW format, and this was easily corrected in post-processing without losing image quality.  i also could have “straightened” the image in post-processing, which would have resulted in a flat horizon, as opposed to the upward slant, but i enjoyed the unusual perspective that was created by my hasty hip shot.  sometimes accidents produce surprisingly pleasing results.

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