The Naked Photographer

UPDATE to the previous post: The honey bee swarm that overnighted in one of our oak trees left Sunday afternoon, as we’d expected. I’d set up my camera again before the morning clouds burned off—the diffused light improved on the shots I’d taken Saturday—and two hours later I heard the sudden tell-tale buzzing. Time to go. Minutes later the swarm had departed, headed north up the ridge, that fascinating sound trailing behind them on the breeze until it, too, was gone.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’d feel naked without a camera?” Perhaps you’ve had the same thought at one time or another. For no apparent reason the bees got me thinking about what photographers clothe themselves with—about equipment.

If I could choose only one item from the photographic wardrobe closet, it would be pants—a normal lens. That modest 50mm will get you most of the shots, most of the time—add extension tubes or filters for close-ups, crop a bit for a faux short-tele effect.

To minimize sunburn, further laughter, and rough ground, I’d then add a shirt (85-100mm) and footwear (28-35mm). There are many sizes and styles to choose from, but the ability to render subjects differently is greatly improved. Now I’d have a basic kit, warm and comfortable, and no few complaints.

How about a coat and hat? Both come in handy here in Oregon, the coat especially, so a lens in the 200-300mm range makes prudent sense. You can’t always get as close to crashing waves, or wildlife, as you’d like. But that’s all I’d really need. With such a practical ensemble most of us could meet 99% of our goals, although I am glad I had a sport coat and tie on hand when the bees arrived. You never know when unexpected company might drop by.


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