Exercise: Standard focal length

Portra-6

For this exercise I selected my Rolleiflex camera for some street photography and walked around a busy Seoul market. I had to do this exercise before the tele and wide angle exercises to wait to borrow a long lens and wide lens (as I lack both).

Portra-5

The Rolleiflex has a 75mm F3.5 Schneider lens, but this in 35mm equivalent is somewhere between 40-50mm due to the 6x6cm medium format negative. The Rolleiflex is a fantastic camera for street shooting and is made to feel all the more discreet by its waist level viewfinder. To most people I’m sure it would look like you are merely fiddling with a box.

Portra-8

Gear aside, the standard focal length with 12 shots per roll and quite a slow lens really forces you to slow down and observe the scene. Like the last exercise I usually stand around and wait for significant moments to emerge, and a busy market place is perfect for finding these moments.

Portra

The standard focal length is also perfect as it is neither too wide nor too close – perfect for capturing small groups of people interacting, or for portraits of single subjects. I can imagine a wide angle lens in a market would be very difficult as it would perhaps capture too much whilst a telephoto lens would capture too little. The photos in this article were all from the same roll of Portra I shot in Dongmyo.

Portra-7

Portra-2

Portra-3

I look forward to the next two exercises and am already thinking about locations that would work with a longer focal length and a wider angle frame. As I rarely shoot beyond 35-50mm focal lengths I am anticipating a steep learning curve!

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Exercise: Standard focal length