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How Breaking My Lens Helped Me Take Better Photos and Why You Should Do the Same

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broken lens bannerA while ago on a job I dropped my only wide/normal lens during a lens swap. Needless to say it was a horrible feeling. Like all things bad, this had a silver lining, it just took time to show.My 17-50 mm zoom was converted into a 17 mm fix. The zoom mechanism broke. Luckily, that was all the damage it took, everything else worked fine. Sure it was very frustrating not being able to adjust the focal length for the shot, but it was something I had to learn to live with and pressed on with the shoot. With several shoots trips lined up, I could go without this lens. It was a crucial part of my gear, my main ‘go to’ lens. I tried shooting purely on my 50 mm, but that didn’t ¬†work out too well. It just wasn’t my style. I figured I’d just use the 17 mm prime for the time being.

Broken Zoom Ring

The zoom ring goes beyond the 17mm mark like it shouldn’t do. I usually keep it locked with the zoom lock the lens comes with.

It’s been months now since the incident, and I still haven’t fixed it. In fact, I probably going to keep it this was for a while longer. Before I go on, I must clarify that I don’t encourage you do also break your lens, but do what I did with mine and STOP zooming when framing a shot or for the whole shoot for the matter. Pick a focal length, 17 mm wide, in my case and stick with it.

Using just one focal length makes you think a lot more about the shot and how you’re going to frame it, where you’re going to stand to get the framing, and lastly study the location and subject a lot more. Lastly, it allowed me to fully get to know my lens. Without looking through the view finder, knew exactly how the lens would frame the shot. With that knowledge during a shoot, I knew exactly where to stand to the the shot I want, how I want my subject to be. All without looking through the viewfinder several times and stumbling around like most photographers do.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) Canon 450D Tamron 17-50mm@17mm f/2.8 1/500

Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew) Canon 450D Tamron 17-50mm@17mm f/2.8 1/500

I learned to see things differently on a shoot. I learned to find all the possible places I could stand a get the shot rather than just zooming in/out on the same spot. I thought I got it all before, I was wrong. Shooting like this help me get shots I wouldn’t have before. Angles I never thought about. Just a tip, the wide angle shot is probably the hardest focal length to get a really good shot.

It’s really frustrating when you begin. Before the incident, a good friend and mentor of mine told me to try it out using a prim 50mm. I avoided it like a plague. Once you get past the frustration and the desire to zoom in/out, it starts getting fun, really fun. For examples checkout my flickr or fb feed. All the latest photos are shot on wide. For the few that aren’t, I was able to manually pull out the lens to zoom in, and that as far as it goes. I probably damaged it even more in the process. As long as the none of the elements are damaged and the auto focus is fine, the lens is still good. Enjoy shooting. Peace!!

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