How to do fine art photography using a 50mm lens

You have a 50mm lens and you love fine art photography. How can you approach this better and improve fine-art photography experience with a 50mm lens?

When we do fine art photography with a 50mm lens, first we must understand the concept of fine-art and how to arrange the elements in the scene, in the photographer mind and in reality, and learning the focal length of your lens which is a crucial step for a fine-art photographer.

With a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera, which is a standard focal length (not too wide, not too zoom), there are just a number of elements we can arrange in a scene. This 50mm lens’s focal length is more than perfect for fine-art photography, for the following reasons:

  • You can arrange the right number of elements in the scene
  • It is a close match with what you see in reality vs your final image (if the 50mm lens is mounted on a full-frame camera, this is almost a perfect match).
  • Minimum perspective distortion in the 50mm-90mm range
  • A fast prime 50mm lens is a golden tool for fine-art photographers
  • Sharp, crystal clear photographs with any 50mm lenses
  • Can produce outstanding bokeh and shallow depth-of-field

50mm fine-art photography, in detail.

Before to get into the detail of using a 50mm lens in fine-art photography, shall I explain a bit more the concept of fine art? What is fine-art photography?

Although every photographer sees the fine art differently, this is my conception of fine art: Is the ability to work with photography as being an form of art, to create art with what you see in your mind as an artist and what you photograph, to send a message through photography, emotions, to express creativity.

Explaining the above list, I do consider that a 50mm lens and around this focal length, is the right one for framing the elements into your composition.

  • If the lens is too wide, there may be too many elements to frame, and this can become a substantial mess.
  • If the lens is going towards telephoto, exactly the opposite happens.

When you create fine-art photography, we need to create something special by photographing a scene or subject with our visions on how we see in our minds. Our minds cannot see TELEPHOTO or SUPERWIDE.

This is one of my favourite photography niches, fine-art. But now that you may be able to understand how this is related to using a 50mm lens, how can I improve fine-art photography using this focal length lens?

  • One and the most important piece of information I can give you is to practice. This requires the ability to see things beyond other’s people imagination through the eye finder. When you do that, you may be able to create something special.
  • The second tip is to use a wide-open aperture (whenever is the case). Having a 50mm lens should not be that hard due to the fact that the vast majority of 50mm lenses have the aperture of f/1.8 and wider.

When you use a wide-open lens you are able to create a shallow depth of field, to isolate the subject and/or the selected elements. Bokeh is also playing an important role in fine-art photography, so yes, a wide-open 50mm lens should be essential

As an instance, the above image is taken with my Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lens and focus stacked in photoshop. Although some people may not see the above image as a fine-art, this is the photographer’s conception and declaration of what is binding to this form of art.

Fine-art photography with a 50mm lens and post-processing.

When we think about fine-art we have to think that fine-art photography is also related to post-processing and editing the image.

Although this is not related to only 50mm fine-art yet in general, we must oversee the fact that a standard image captured with our camera hardly can be considered fine-art image without some heavy post-processing

Maybe not as heavy as you think but we do need to have some knowledge about Lightroom and Photoshop in general in order to create amazing fine-art photographs.

When I was shuffling through my old photograph and I’ve seen this one, my vision was to bring to life the concept of an old ww2 style photograph and highlight the mystery behind the image.

Fine-art photography is not only related to capturing an image on a fine-art style but does require some basic knowledge or understanding it in order to achieve your ideation and vision by bringing images from your mind to life.

My skills are limited in relation to post-processing. But a good fine-art photographer can create an absolute masterpiece when considering the above facts.

old style fine art photography with 50mm lens
The final result

Many photographers will consider this above concept as not being related to fine-art but I created this image in concordance to my vision, when using photography just as a medium to bring a (false) memory back from the past. This conception is considered to be fine-art.

Oh, and nearly forgot. The photo was taken with my 50mm lens on Nikon D750

Learning fine-art photography with a 50mm lens

You are going to be outdoors in a zone where there are many interesting things to photograph. But rather than just taking simple snapshots with your camera, you want to do something special: To create fine-art with your camera and your 50mm lens.

But how are you going to do that?

There are a few important steps to highlight when creating fine-art photography with your 50mm lens:

  • Search for something out of the ordinary (subject, scene).
  • Carefully frame and arrange elements on your photograph.
  • Have a vision on what you want to create: Think that your camera is just a tool but you are the artist.
  • Consider the right camera settings.
  • Capture the scene from multiple angles.
  • Post-process your photograph.

It may take you a while to find the perfect scene or subject you want to photograph and which goes the best with fine art photography. You may be somehow lucky to find it or it can take like forever. Do not feel disappointed if this won’t work as a first, because our minds are the creators of this art.

You may find the scene but still unsure. Think about the elements and subject you want to photograph. Because you do this with a 50mm lens, it is most easily to arrange those elements into the scene. What is going to be like?

Focus on it and have a vision on how this will look and what do you want to create. It is possible, realisable? Everything is possible, so the short answer would be yes.

Now you have to set your camera settings. What would you think is going to be the best settings? Shallow depth of field and bokeh? Or maybe a flat scene where everything is in focus! Or it can work well with a long exposure photograph.

Consider capturing the scene with the elements by rearranging and photographing from multiple angles. This method can feed our mind with ideas of creating and developing in the scale of fine-art photography.

You have your final image and need to post-process, how are you going to do it? You can follow the simple concept from the above point of post-processing, or create your own vision of modifying the image. Work on it until you will get the desired results.

A few extra tips of taking fine-art photography with a 50mm lens and in general.

  • Consider black & white or monotone image for fine-art photography.
  • A long exposure photograph (e.g. sea, lake and clouds etc.) works flawlessly with black & white or monotone.
  • Crop the image if necessary to create a perfect balance of your photograph.
  • Frame the edges of your image with a white border (optional)
  • Play with the shadows and highlight like never before
  • Vignetting is playing an important role in fine-art photography
  • Think about the concept of spot colour photography in relation to fine-art.
  • The photograph can be either contrasty or contrastless but one of them only!
  • Take your post-processing to another level by following photoshop courses & tutorials.

If you are an artist and photographer is impossible not to love fine-art photography, therefore, I would strongly recommend capturing your fine-art images with a 50mm lens.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned for more and take care, my friends.


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How to do fine-art photography using a 50mm lens, guide

About Gabriel Mihalcea

Howdy! You’re here! Great things to start! Hi, I’m Gabriel I live in the UK in the beautiful town of Hastings. I am a photographer, and I do DSLR and drone photography. I always loved to capture everything I could see through the eye-finder of my Nikon, or the bird-eyes of my drone. My expectations are to share everything I learned about photography and help anyone in need to reach their potential. Honestly, nobody ever reached their maximum potential as there would always be more room for improvement, more information to achieve or new technologies in photography released on the market. But leaving that aside, I am here to help anyone in need.

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