South Africa - 2018
The movie Black Panther broke many box-office records on its opening weekend ($207 million), and the character is
now a new cult superhero. I wanted to take a picture of a panther that did both the animal and the superhero justice.
My preconception was that the key feature had to be the eyes, and I also needed a ground-up perspective. That does tend to be my usual approach, but it meant remote controls, predictive analysis, and considerable distance between my camera and me.
Time after time I failed dismally—it is such a low-percentage shot. The light was also low and my depth of field marginal. I took many shots, and in
the end, I came home with just one. But that is all I needed.
In remote-control work, I consistently use three Nikon prime wide-angle lenses: the 24mm, the 28mm, and the 35mm. The bigger the wide angle, the closer the subject must be for the image not to be loose, and the closer the subject to the camera, the more things can go wrong. For these reasons, I use the 35mm f/1.4G the most; it is a lens with stunning clarity.
I am often asked which lenses I would choose if I was allowed only two for the rest of my life. It’s a mean question, but it certainly focuses the mind and encourages a rough and ready retrospection of where my big images have come from.
I would choose the 35mm and its sister up the road, the 58mm f/1.4m—the most high-resolution lens in my bag. If allowed a third, it would be the 105mm f/1.4m. With these three lenses and nothing else, I would be just fine.