Before zoom, prime it was.

So, what's the point of a prime or fixed focal length lens? Does't that make it hard? Why choose a prime when a zoom is so much more versatile?

Mediocrity stifles creativity. Accepting what is as what must >be is a one way ticket to the pawn shop.

When I purchased my first prime (the 50mm 1.8), it was to try something different. I was headed off to a distant beach to take more seemingly samish photos but wanted to do something different. f1.8 was somewhere I hadn't been before. I wasn't really sure compositionally what I was going to use it for, but I just had to do something to continue to grow. I quickly learned that shooting on a sunny beach at 1.8 requires a shutter speed greater than 1/8000.

It took a while to realise, but the lens being a 1.8 wasn't the driver for creativity. Being forced to shoot a focal length was a challenge, but a great trigger to force thinking differently about composing photographs.

This became apparent whan I visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The rule is photographs are allowed, but bags are not permitted. Given the generally low lighting, a lack of big pockets, I needed the fasted lens I had. 50mm 1.8 to the rescue.

Bomb. No flash required.

Bomb, no flash required.

Bomb, no flash required.

The above Bomb image is the result of a steady hand, foot zoom and the indoor lighting. This seems relatively simple and not requiring much thought to compose, and that it was.

There were of course other situations where only so much would fit in the 50mm field of view. This forces one to think more deeply about the composition. Some images ended up being deleted almost immediately, but some managed to come out ok. It's called learning.

Close enough to shave.

Close enough to shave.

So, the value of a fixed lens (particularly for sometone early in their journey), is learning about composition. Being forced to think about the photograph you're taking to get the most of the subject or scene inspires creativity and thinking outside the square (well, rectangle).

Gator log.

Gator log.

Beyond the fixed lens, it's healthy to occasionally have only one lens (fixed or zoom), for a given situation. The last photowalk I went on, I deliberately only took the 70-200 2.8. It was a late afternoon/early evening jaunt around Fed Square. It was a hot Melbourne evening and I didn't want to be lugging about a wide, a zoom and something between. I'm glad I did as I managed to make compositions that I would have otherwise walked right on by.