Yesterday I was putting our younger daughter Meri to sleep by riding around the neighborhood with baby carriage. There is this one underpass tunnel here that often calls for me with its yellow walls and this time I decided to head that way. When I arrived to scene I realized that I only had the Loxia 2/50 with me and I thought, at first, that I should come back again later with a wide angle lens like Touit 2.8/12 as the space felt too tight. To be honest I was guided by this idea of standard focal lengths that one has to use for certain subjects. Ultra wide angles for landscapes and architecture, 85mm for portraits, 35mm for reportages with human interest and so on, I'm sure everyone knows this as it is a very common way to speak about our photographic needs. I was already ready to leave the place when I realized that having a 'wrong lens' was just a excuse for not facing the fact that I really had no idea of what I should come up with here – and leaning on the idea of standard focal lengths wasa way to legitimize this thought process. Insecurities like these can easily ruin many photographic possibilities and it gets easier to cross over them once you allow yourself to experiment and fail if necessary (do not hunt for the perfect picture, instead enjoy the process). So with this kind of flexibility in my mind I decided just to stop there and take 30 mins or so to experiment with this 'wrong focal length' and the tunnel. After many different ideas I came up with the image you see above and I'm pretty happy with a certain graphical nature it possesses in my eye. It's definitely different and perhaps more interesting than what I would come up with if I had followed my own idea of a proper focal length for this scene. Mission accomplished!
What this experience reminded me, was the creative limitations that one can encounter when using prime lenses. Especially with the creative photography limiting yourself to one focal length at the time will often reveal more interesting compositions and visual motifs than what one could obtain by following the idea of standard focal lengths (and standard subjects). I must emphasize that I do understand how useful the standards might be in a large scheme of things, but at the same time I feel that many are following them too tightly and not giving space for their own photographic eye. Especially the beginners tend to think that they need those 18-200 mm zoom-lenses to be able to photograph anything, but in real world these same lenses tend to fasten their feet on the ground and shutdown the process of composition. That's why I prefer primes over zoom-lenses and yesterday was just one experience that reminded me about it again. It's the limitations that stir up creativity in you, so go in with prime lenses!