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Time to Take Out Those Long Lenses

Intro by Skip Cohen

This is a little different kind of post I wanted to share here today, but it’s so relevant. Regardless of what gear you own or usually shoot with, my good buddy Bob Coates got me thinking about shooting with long lenses.

Here’s my point – while most of you are portrait artists, these days you have to be able to pivot! The pandemic has made it necessary for everybody to expand their skill set. Physical distancing has made it essential to often capture with longer lenses.

Simultaneously, business challenges make it essential for you to occasionally step away from some of your day-in-day-out frustrations. That might mean getting out with your gear and shooting for the most important client you have…YOU!

This post is from Bob’s archives and was shared long before the word pandemic was in our vocabulary. But it does demonstrate one of the things I enjoy most about my pal, his diversity. And diversity in your skillset is a critical ingredient as an artist these days.

So, whether you’re out shooting with a longer lens because of physical distancing or you’re just taking a break to expand your creativity, no matter where you live, something is going on outside worth capturing and creating!

By Bob Coates 

I enjoy my long lens for outdoor photography. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment for isolating subjects against a background with nice bokeh. The longer the lens, the easier it is to have an out-of-focus background. The PANASONIC LUMIX G Leica DG Vario-Elmar Professional Lens, 100-400MM, F4.0-6.3 ASPH is a magical lens IMHO.

Here are some images from a walkabout at the Sedona Wetlands. I didn’t find many waterfowl as it was midday and possibly the wrong time of year. In any case, I always try to make the best of any photography situation and started looking for details. There are still some wildflowers scattered throughout. This attracts butterflies, birds, and bees.

Adult female Lesser Goldfinch snacking on some wildflowers that have gone to seed 

I always look to capture ‘behavior’ photos as well as straight portraits of my feathered friends.

Here the Lesser Goldfinch is working to get the seeds free from the plant. 

A Butterfly caught with shallow depth of field between the plants.

The butterfly photo was my favorite photo of the day. If you’ve chased butterflies in the wild, you know how difficult it can be to get an interesting image. I tracked this one for a while and looked to ‘sandwich’ the butterfly with DOF. I wanted a sharp subject surrounded by the in and out of focus flowers. This was made more difficult as there were not a ton of flowers in bloom and the wind was making the flowers dance as well. Now that I see the image here I’ll crop in a little tighter and lose the past prime flowers on the right-hand side of the photo.

Wasps one of our other pollinators were flitting between the blooms as well as the butterflies.

I choose this one to share as it has a different color with black and white stripes.

Back to the lens. One complaint I hear about the lens is that it is very stiff to zoom. It was designed that way not to suffer ‘lens creep’ when you hang it from your shoulder. I’ve found a perfect way to change the zoom. Instead of trying to turn the lens, hold the lens and turn the camera. It’s like opening a bottle of champagne where you hold the cork and twist the bottle. Makes it easy and you don’t end up with the lens creep!

When paired with the Lumix G9 you get 6 and a half stops of hand-hold ability. All images were handheld in this post.