Social distancing lens


A few weeks ago I carefully started shooting again. My studio space is too small to keep a safe distance between the the model and myself. So to keep both of us safe I decided to shoot on location as long as this COVID-19 thing is tormenting us. But don’t worry if you prefer studio shoots. I’m up to some cool ideas to create the same atmosphere on location as I do in my studio. 

However this news message is about something else than a studio space. It has to do with keeping a safe distance between myself and the model.

To be able to keep my distance a bit easier I decided to bring a lens with more focal length. I.e. more telephoto lens. Normally I use a 35 mm and an 85 mm lens for most of my portrait work. And actually the 85 mm lens is used about 80 percent of the time. So you can call that 85 mm lens my bread-and-butter lens for portraits.

Now during the COVID-19 thing I decided to leave both the 35 mm and 85 mm lenses at home. I did some deep digging in my equipment closet and picked up my 70-200 mm lens. Due to the focal length range of this lens I can keep my distance to the model better by using the end of the focal length range more.

70-200 mm lens

During a shoot you get in a kind of flow and stop thinking about things like your position etc. This can be compared to muscle memory. Somehow you now where to stand to achieve a certain look. But during my photoshoots in the last period of time I was continuously being called off by my 70-200 mm lens. This is caused by a technical reason. Each lens has a minimum focussing distance. This is the minimum distance between the lens and the subject which it needs in order to be able to get in focus and create sharp images. When you get too close with a lens you are not able to get a sharp subject. In my case a sharp image of the model. So after this time I realised how much I have become one with that 85 mm lens. The 85 mm lens has a minimum focussing distance of 0,85 meters. The 70-200 mm lens however, has a minimum focussing distance of 1,4 meters. That is more than half a meter difference. And during the shoots I realised that I automatically position myself to the default distance of the 85 mm lens. Which in its turn causes the 70-200 mm lens to refuse to focus. And so I need to take a step back to be able to take a picture. After doing some ‘back stepping’ for a while I started to learn to keep my distance automatically.

So to make all things short: the technical aspects of that 70-200 mm lens will make sure that I keep a safe social distance between myself and the model. Ain’t that a great thing in these insecure times? Just use different gear in order to keep your model and yourself safe.

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