Rice Plant, Sacramento



Brett Weston remarked that having too many lenses confuses a photographer's eye, and in watching Art Wright's DVD Bret Weston: Photographer, it appears that he only uses a few prime lenses*. 

Weston's notion is that by using only a few lenses a photographer learns the angle of view of the lenses. Photography, he argues, even at its simplest is extremely complex, and we should work to simplify as much as possible. Using prime lenses forces us out of our comfort zone because we have to change our compositions to compensate for our equipment. That means finding alternative solutions we might not have considered before, which forces us to grow as artists.

I was reminded of Weston's thoughts as I recently photographed a rice processing plant in Sacramento. I drove by the plant while enroute to a different destination, and decided to return as quickly as possible. Parking my car, I set up my camera across the street from the rice plant and saw that I was still too close to take the picture that I'd originally envisioned. I only have one lens and there was no way for me to move backwards.

But as I moved around and looked, the image that emerged on the groundglass was better than the one I'd originally seen. The lines of the plant began to come together in a sinuous abstract balance that I found much more satisfying. I made a vertical image, changed the composition, and then made a horizontal one, each related, yet unique. I'm looking forward to printing both when I next return to Sonoma County.


*A prime lens is a lens of fixed focal length as opposed to a zoom lens) throughout the film.