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Going on holiday is so exciting for me. It’s a chance to unwind and take it easy. The one thing I don’t want to do on holidays is carry heavy equipment for my photography. I do that already as my day job and heavy cameras paired with heavier lenses are a drag. When on holiday, I usually take one camera body and one small prime lens with me. That’s it!
This article is about capturing your holiday photos with the simplest of gear: a camera and lens. I used my Nikon D750 full-frame camera and a Nikkor 60mm micro prime lens for all the photos featured in this article. The combination is small in size and light in weight. Just a note though, as the D750 has a full-frame sensor, the 60mm viewed through it is a 60mm. If you use a cropped-sensor camera, this 60mm becomes a 90mm when viewed through the smaller sensor. Therefore it’s not something I recommend as a holiday combo. If you only have a cropped-sensor camera, then you are better off going with a 35mm fixed lens.
You may ask why 60mm, not 50mm, not 35mm? That’s a valid question. I used to take the 50mm as that focal length is most versatile and I love it’s lightness too. I have previously written an article here on the 50mm and its versatility. But I have swapped this for my 60mm as my go-to holiday lens recently.
If you have enough space to back off from the subject, you can take a good landscape photo without distortions (like cropping out too many tourists for example) and without it being too unnecessarily wide. Landscape in wide-open areas is easy. You can do more “considered” compositions because of the viewpoint the focal length allows. You can also “crop” in-camera just by moving forward or backward to include or exclude areas within the frame.
A portrait, by strict definition, is usually a view from the shoulders to the head. However, you can loosen it up a bit by going half body or even full-body! It’s not close-up nor too wide. The Nikkor 60mm Micro is the perfect focal length for a portrait. Because it’s an f/2.8 lens, you can still get shallow depth of field and achieve a pleasing background compression for a flattering image. This is especially so when I want to accentuate the subject and blur the background.
Because the Nikkor 60mm Micro has a micro/macro lens capability, I can capture close-ups (including extreme close-ups) with it too. The photos below are of a wall covering at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. We were passing through the darkly lit rooms (no flashes allowed) in a tour group so there was no stopping for a long time. It’s quite literally aim, shoot and go! I wanted to capture the intricate embroidery on these fabric wall coverings and a patch of the design. The Nikkor 60mm Micro gives fairly heavy vignetting, especially when shooting close-ups in low light. Close-range photography usually requires more light which wasn’t available here. However, the vignetting created works for me because I wanted to focus on the central areas of the patterns.
All in all, the Nikkor 60mm Micro is light and nifty and has macro capabilities. With it, you can shoot really close-up details, through to much wider views, as shown in the photo below.
I have recently written an article, 3 tips in photographing details in a scene, where I talked about shooting to tell a story. This is essentially utilizing the elements of story-telling as you visually capture scenes. So, you can tell the beginning, middle and end of a story effectively just by using photos.
You can make a story more interesting by employing a variety of angles. Think of a film being shot. You often have several cameras with various lenses coming in from different angles: wide, medium, high, low and close-up. These viewpoints offer new and different insights into the scene at hand.
Capturing moments that carry emotions is a surefire way of immortalizing memories in our minds. Action photos often help with these. The photos below of my daughter blowing soapy suds will remind her of her delight upon seeing a fountain overflowing with foamy white stuff! It was a marathon day when we visited Tallinn, Estonia. Crossing roads was tricky with all the runners zooming past too. A nice smile at the camera when we got on a train, and a much-needed rest from miles and miles of walking while sightseeing. All precious memories.
A series of shots showing a progression or a beginning, middle and end can also be a fun and interesting way of telling a story of a moment. It doesn’t have to be a complicated moment. A snapshot of something that catches your eye will do, like the little scene below. Including a couple of other shots of the same material but from a different perspective will bring new interest.
Details help us remember and set memories firmly in our minds so we can chat about it for years to come. I make annual family albums which my kids love to pore over and talk about regularly. They give us a lot of laughter as we recall the fun events of our holidays and reminisce the special moments. Still life, scenery, close-ups…they all play a part in helping us capture details more effectively to tell stories of our lives.
I hope you found this little article on how to capture your holiday photos with just one lens, such as the Nikkor 60mm Micro helpful. Do share more tips in the comments below.