Friday, November 12, 2010

Long Lenses vs. a Personal Encounter

So what is this post about exactly? Let's first look at the big picture before we get into the nittier, grittier stuff:

I was fixated upon her. No, not the woman walking through the frame, but the woman sitting on the bench in the distance. Which girl you ask? Here's a crop if you're still not sure:

Yeah, her. She just sat there poring over her notebook, her pale shimmering legs in the autumn sun (can something be pale and shimmering?). I wanted to get a picture of her, a closer picture, a portrait just like that, but maybe more of a profile, but not too much so it looked like she only had one leg. She was hard not to notice. I was out with the Rollieflex and it's fixed 75mm lens, definitely not long enough to remain non-intrusive.

As I sat there on the fountain pondering my situation, a man sidled up next to me. He was rolling with a Bronica with a really long lens attached, and pointed it towards the girl. "How long is the lens?" I asked.

"It's medium format." He answered with an accent I couldn't place.

"I know. I'm talking about the lens. How long is it? How big?"

"Oh," he paused and looked at his lens, "210 millimeters," and he looked through the finder to take another picture of the girl.

"I saw her too, but I only got this," I said as I motioned to the Rolleiflex hanging from my neck.

"But sometimes foot-zoom is good too,"

"Yeah, but if I get close then she knows I'm taking a picture of her and maybe she doesn't want a picture taken of her, you know? You can just set up over here and snap away without getting in her face."

I forgot what he said after that, but we exchanged pleasantries before he went on his way, leaving me to sit and stare from afar, too shy to approach her to ask for a photo, and not brazen enough to just get up close and shoot.

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