Going West with a nifty 50 mm

Adding his own splash of color to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, a boy in bright yellow rubber boots emerges from the rainy rows of tulips stretching colorfully toward the horizon.

Adding his own splash of color to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, a boy in bright yellow rubber boots emerges from the rainy rows of tulips stretching colorfully toward the horizon. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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We are very curious creatures.

We take the world apart to see how it works.

We build, destroy, rebuild, make it better, make it worse.

We jump –with parachutes – out of perfectly good airplanes.

We hold onto little pieces that stay the same.

We climb mountains because they’re there.

We progress.

All along the way, our gift of curiosity is given the closed box. And, like most children, we can’t resist the urge to look inside.

We open it.

Sometimes, things inside are looking back.

Still, our hand moves toward this new wonderland, unwrapping the mysteries of the unknown package and wearing the discoveries inside like new shoes – or a bright pair of yellow rubber boots – standing poised to take the first step into the big-muddy universe, shiny before us.

So big.

So small.

With every shade of color and every tone of black and white in between for our eyes to ponder, absorb and to see.

This passion to bear witness – to see the world around us the best we can and to make some sense of even a part of the journey – is one of the passions that photography serves to honor and reveal.

Whether in our own backyard or on a recent trip west of the Cascades, the journey or the equipment doesn’t have to be exotic.

For this particular excursion, I returned to the foundations of modern-day photojournalism by taking only a 50mm lens – a nearly 30-year-old Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.2 manual focus lens mounted on a full-frame, Canon EOS- 6D body – to cover all my shooting needs.

Even with three days of near non-stop rain, the little, rugged “nifty 50” recorded the visual gantlet of all things curious.

Subbing out “conquered” from the Latin version, “We came. We saw. We took our shot.”

From the colorful scenics of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, still lifes at Pike Place Market, abstracts at the Seattle Central Library, action shots on Bellingham streets to portraits at Mallard Ice Cream – one of the northwest’s premiere ice cream shops – going west with a 50mm lens is economy travel with first class rewards.

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