The Walls of Glacier at 50mm

Here’s a little snapshot I took of the eroding walls directly above Siyeh Creek in Glacier National Park.  I’ve bought into the “as seen by our human eyes” landscape shots more and more.  Don’t automatically put your wide-angle lens (24mm, 17mm) on in the great outdoors.  Take in what your eyes see at 50mm.  Yup – 50mm is about equal to the field of vision of a human eye.  That’s why many people just love the “feel” of a 50.  I personally love the way the Glacier wall is prominent, and huge, while it is accented with the coniferous trees below, and not a touch of sky above.  And yes, these are BIG walls, but they seem even bigger if they can’t fit into a camera frame! [click on image to enlarge any picture]

Why fifty:  Well, there are at least 50 reasons – but I’ll only name a few here!

The level of detail is much better when one zooms in.  More opportunity for subject isolation (like this ripple above).  50mm is a perfect “tweener” size wherein you can see some large-scale elements, while tuning the audience in a bit more to patterns and details.  Less distortion is key as I get annoyed with how much distortion wide lenses have (even with “Corrections” in Camera RAW).  50’s are light and easy to carry.  50’s are fast – allowing you to create a narrow depth of focus shot with a sub $100 lens, and yes this is the BEST $100 you’ll spend as a Canon shooter.  [Although do note that on a 1.6 crop camera this lens becomes a 85mm equivalent, which is also cool, but much tighter.  You need to get the slightly pricier 35mm to get this effect].

Processing: These images were processed in OnOne software Layer’s program where burning, dodging and creating multiple exposures is pretty easy (and much cheaper than Photoshop). Throw-back cross-processing colors were developed in Adobe Lightroom.


27 thoughts on “The Walls of Glacier at 50mm

  1. Thanks so much – I’m overwhelmed by all the kind notes, emails, and messages I’ve gotten. Thanks for inspiring me with your kindness. I’m also over at facebook at Lech Naumovich Photography if you want to toss me a like! Thanks again.

  2. Beautiful photos and great information. I’m a landscape painter who uses photos for resource material and I was looking for just this information. I guess I need a 50mm lens because as much as I love my little Canon G9, I noticed that the landscape through the lens is “pushed back” and not really what is my true field of vision. Thanks so much for writing this!

    • Anita,
      You’re so right. The wider lenses always give some feeling of separation or distance. That fifty really brings things to life. Also, I recommend not always shooting as stopped down as possible. Something like f7.1 seems comparable (range of f5.6-8) to the eye rather than trying to get the most depth possible. Thanks for the note!

  3. Nice perspective. I see it slightly different. Human eyes are constantly shifting and refocusing. A still shot does not. Therefore, I utilize 50mm when I want to emphasize the intimate. When I want to open the shades and let the whole world in, I go big. I’ve been to Glacier many times. To me, it’s a place for big pictures. I really enjoyed your thoughtful post.

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