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Going Extreme

Saguaro Embrace

As photographers, our view of the world is often shaped by the lenses we choose to put on our camera. That’s why, every once in a while, I try to move outside my comfort zone and slap on a lens I rarely use, if only to stretch my way of looking at a subject. That’s how I found myself crawling around under this wild saguaro at sunset with a 14mm lens.

This is a terrific piece of glass, but one that distorts the field, curving things that are actually strait. (Not normally a lens you want to use for your family portrait, for instance.) But in this situation it allowed me to get in close for intimacy–too close: I’m still pulling out spines–and accentuate the wonderful curves of this unique cactus.

I have often advocated the value of shaking up your visual vocabulary. Try using a wide-angle lens in a situation when you’d normally reach for the telephoto. Or try it the other way around. On this occasion, I used every lens in my backpack before the sun went down. Each lens created a different perspective and an entirely new picture.

Saguaro Cactus, Arizona

Nikon D300, Nikkor 14mm lens