A few months ago my daughter’s class took a field trip to a local state park called Penrose Point State Park. The trip was scheduled to coincide with low tide so the kids could explore the tide pools and sea life surrounding the area. One of the neatest aspects to the park is the long sand spit that extends out from shore that is exposed during the lowest tides of the year. As soon as we jumped out of the school buses, all the kids ran out to the spit to walk out to the end. I saw a great photo opportunity and framed up a panorama that would make the kids look almost like they were walking on water.
My camera gear was a Nikon D300s with the tiny 18-105mm kit lens. I shot a total of eight images that I later stitched together as a panorama in Photoshop’s Photomerge utility. After creating the panorama, I used Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 to pull out some detail in the clouds and also add the image border.
Of course, taking photos of the rest of the day was just as much fun. I just had to keep shooting pics as the kids picked up crabs and poked at star fish and oogled at an octopus. It was a wonderful trip made even that much more fun by having my camera with me. Here are some more pics of our Penrose Point Beach Adventure.
New photographers often ask me what is the “best” lens for their photography. Often, they own the standard kit lens with their new SLR and are concerned that it isn’t good enough for great photography. This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that the lens is far less important than the skill of the photographer.
Here’s an email question from a reader from Bangalore this morning:
I was on your webpage and found it inspiring. I really enjoy photography and so far I’m doing some experimental work with my Sony Cyber Shot digicamera.
Recently I brought the Nikon D7000 with 18-105 Vr lens. Since I’m just getting into photography, can u send me some suggestions for the young growing photographer?
Photography is my hobby. I’m basically an architect. Would you please suggest some lenses that I can use for portraits and landscape photography? I’ll also be using it on occasion for weddings. It will be good if you suggest me lens and flash devices.
With Best Regards
Hi Ed –
The key to getting better photos doesn’t have much to do with the lenses you buy. It has much more to do with practice and determination. My biggest advice for you is to take pictures every day. Also, take pictures with a purpose. For example, decide that you want to document your neighborhood and the people who live there. Spend two months doing this and you’ll see the quality of your photographs improve exponentially.
I use all kinds of lenses including the Nikon 18-105mm. I have macros, telephotos, wide angles, f5.6, f2.8, f1.8, etc. Each has a different purpose, but again, the key to great photography is knowledge and experience. The 18-105mm will work great for portraits and weddings. In fact, I was at a wedding last weekend where the official photographer used this specific lens on a Nikon D80. There are just too many lenses out there to suggest a specific one for you. I encourage you to shoot with the 18-105mm until you find an actual need for another lens. Once you find the 18-105mm is limiting your creativity or capability, then it is time to buy a new one that solves your problem.
For flashes, I like the SB-900 and SB-700. Both work well for most of my lighting requirements.
One last suggestion: go back through my previous newsletters and participate in our monthly GOAL Assignments. These will encourage you to keep practicing and growing your skill set.