Time for a new lens

When I got my first prime lens I was enjoying the blurry backgrounds that the big aperture gave me. It allowed me to isolate the subject and minimise distractions. While those photos still have a time and place, I now work more with slightly smaller apertures, giving me more depth of field. I have also had a desire to have a somewhat wider field of view than what the 50 mm lens provides. Quite a few times I have not been able to step back far enough to fit everything in the frame. Both the smaller aperture and the wider field helps me to put the subject in a context. For that reason I bought a 20 mm f/2.8 lens a while back, which gave me a really wide field of view, but at the price of heavy distortion of people near the edges. For the same money I could have bought a 28 mm f/1.8 lens which has received better reviews. Lesson learned, I would research my next purchase better.

In March this year I was reading about Nikon’s new 35 mm f/1.8 lens and felt it was time to get my hands on a better wide angle lens. I buy all my lenses in Sweden, and my plan was to ask my mother to bring it with her when she came to visit Cambridge. Unfortunately I was not the only one that wanted this lens, it was a bit difficult to get hold of it, as all the stores in Stockholm were waiting for more to be delivered. I had to wait. Fast forward to about a month ago and I stumbled upon a post about the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART series lens. It had some glowing reviews. It was also heavier, but I kind of view that as a plus. I do not go to any gym so the camera is the only weight lifting I do. A heavier camera means I will get more muscles, right? Well I can hope.

Today I walked into a Nikon store in Stockholm and finally bought the Sigma lens. Looking through the viewfinder you do not notice anything special, but it focuses quietly and the test shot I took of my dad came out razor sharp. On the way back from the shop I came across a group of singing and dancing Hare Krishna people. This colourful explosion of people and sounds were surrounded by police. It turned out they were going to have a parade, so I stuck around a bit. It was a golden opportunity to field test my new lens. Here are a few shots that I took with it. I get a feeling that my six-year-old 50 mm lens is now going to be my second choice.

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The parade had not yet formed, the Hare Krishna people were dancing around next to Humlegården. The trees were filtering the sun, putting most of the right side of the street in shade, but with patches of sun where the rays could peek through the branches. I was looking for people whose faces were illuminated by these patches of light, making them stand out against the crowd in the shade.
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I saw the woman praying, and quickly repositioned myself to get the entire flag in the frame behind her. I wanted it there to provide a bit of context for the photo.
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This is a cropped in version of the original photo. I desaturated the other people to emphasise the girl and her dress.
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This photo feels almost like it is taken in a jungle somewhere warm, but it is indeed Stockholm. We have some hot days, or weeks, each year.
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The parade starts, and I quickly move to the front of the procession. Only the police, that stop the traffic and clear the road, are in front of me.
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The dancing women in the previous photo whirled past me, and I snapped a few photos of the people behind them. An older woman with a broom stick stood out as she was sweeping the road.

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The parade continued all the way to Mynttorget, but I only followed them until Kungsgatan, before ordered by my stomach to head home to my parents for lunch. I was hungry, and also curious to see what the new photos would look like on a big screen. I was not disappointed. You can click the photos above to see them in a slightly larger version.

– Johannes

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