As I mature I find myself loving the one lens philosophy more and more. It simply makes me work harder and I notice it makes my work stronger. I started that way with my second camera, after the inevitable box camera, with an Olympus OM-1 and a 50mm f1.8 lens. It was what I was given.
I just made do with what I had.
Lens envy didn’t take long to surface, nor did my desire for dad’s black version of the same camera. I laugh, as I still have a very strong preference for all-black cameras.
Choice is a dangerous thing, as Fred Hulls used to say when we taught leadership and teamwork. Derek Lucas had cottoned into it earlier. He would put a can of red herrings in with all the equipment, when he presented more of it than required into a problem-solving exercise. Facinating to watch, people always wanted to use every item including the can of red herrings.
The thing is, if we have it, we want to use it and that little thought becomes the distraction.
There’s a quote there somewhere. If all you have is a hammer then all you can see is nails. Something like that.
Well, if all you have is one lens, all you can see are photographs with that lens. If all you have is one film, all you can see are images and possibilities with that film. If I hunt for square sepia photographs with a standard lens, that is all I see. When you create, search and play with just one combination I can assure you, you will see more possibilities than when you have a world of choice.
Well, this is how it works for me. It’s how it works for some others too.
I wouldn’t have created a composition like this without embracing all the limitations around me. I was on a bridge, so I could only move left or right, up or down and, working with one lens.
As I said yesterday, there is still too much in that camera bag. Something will have to go.
Minimurra Creek, near Kiama at Jamberoo. Photograph and text copyright © Len Metcalf 2018