Ralph Gibson

Excerpt from

Ralph Gibson

 Refractions:thoughts on aesthetics and photography

Careful examination of the work of great masters of the Leica, will indicate that the majority of their photographs appear to have been taken with 50mm lens. There is no trace of distortion and no excess drama from the lens itself.

 I believe that the best way to learn framing is to work with a rangefinder camera and 50mm lens exclusively for a period of years. You must get to the point where you can unhesitantly place yourself at the correct distance from an object so that it will be framed correctly when you bring the camera to your eye. It is only by performing this excise over and over again, as a pianist would practice scales, that the camera becomes an instantaneous extension of the eye.

Once having mastered this exercise for the 50mm lens, you can quickly apply it to other focal lengths. But if you start out switching between three or four different focal lengths, you will never learn to use any one of them without hesitation.

 For many years the lens I have turned most to is the 50mm lens. It renders objects in an undistorted perspective. Using the 50mm exclusively for a couple of years will teach you how to embrace the world with the geometry of the lens, much as the Vitruvian Man illustrates how the human form is embraced by the geometry of the circle and the square.



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