canon lenses

What’s your favourite lens?

©Neil Turner, November 2014. Surfer heads towards Bournemouth Pier as the waves get bigger during a storm.

©Neil Turner, November 2014. Surfer heads towards Bournemouth Pier as the waves get bigger during a storm.

It’s been a while since I’ve directly answered a question from a reader on this blog. I haven’t been ignoring people – it’s just that the questions best suited to an answer on here haven’t been coming my way. A fellow news photographer causing mischief asked this one last week:

“What’s your favourite lens?”

It’s tough to answer because one of the things I love doing in my work is to use as wide a variety of focal lengths as possible and to use the right lens for the situation (if I own it and/or have it with me of course). I’ve written before about the best lens for portraits and I’ve written about zooms versus primes quite recently and so I thought that I’d give a couple of different answers to the question.

Most used lens

There is one lens that I use more than any other, one that I’d find it hardest to live and work without and which has given amazing service over many years. That lens is my Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS. (more…)

Two portraits, one poet and a fifteen year gap…

Working as a photographer you often shoot pictures of people before they become famous and then get to shoot them again once they have “made it”. I don’t know if you can really categorise a poet as ‘famous’ but the British Poet Laureate is about as famous as you can get for poetry. In 2008 and towards the end of his term as Laureate, I photographed Andrew Motion at his London home but this wasn’t my first “one-to-one” with him. Back in 1992 when he was already established as a poet, and just ahead of the publication of his biography of Phillip Larkin, I had taken pictures of him at a different London home.

©Neil Turner/Insight | London | 14th September 1992

A lot of people are a lot more accommodating and easier to photograph before they become famous. They are often friendlier, more likely to offer you a cup of tea and are generally easier to work with. That wasn’t the case with Mr Motion. Back in 1992 I had caught him on a bad day – or at least a day when he had far more pressing matters to attend to than getting his picture taken whereas fifteen and a half years later he was well used to being photographed and had developed an easy manner when dealing with people like me. It could be that I was also fifteen and a half years older and more able to handle myself but whatever the reasons, shooting him in 2008 was a lot easier.

©Neil Turner/TSL | London | 28th March 2008

Of course the technology had moved on: in 1992 I was shooting with Nikon F4S cameras and some lumpy f2.8 Nikkor zoom lenses (35-70 f2.8 and 80-200 f2.8) on black and white film. By 2008 I was onto Canon EOS1D MkII and 20D cameras with some lovely L series Canon lenses and shooting digitally. The quality difference is also very noticeable and I wouldn’t want to shoot film on a job like this again.