I'm so glad you found me! I'm a San Francisco photographer, and this blog charts my journey in the ever-evolving world of photography. One of the things I love about photography is that it's a journey, not a destination. I'm constantly learning and meeting wonderful people. Please peruse the blog to your heart's content, then check out my website and feel free to contact me! (I love hearing from you.)

“Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow." – Imogen Cunningham

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” – Edward Steichen

Sf Film Night in Dolores Park, and a Look at a 35mm Lens

I'm a big fan of a blog called TOP, and the author, a one Mr Mike Johnston, always goes on about his love of 35mm lenses. He also goes on about his love of working with view cameras, and medium format, and other pieces of this photography craft that I don't intend on doing any time soon. Although film would be fun . . .

So, for a long time I just thought he had a bee in his bonnet. And then I bought a full-frame camera that I couldn't use my beloved wide angle zoom on, and realize that I had no wide angle lenses for it at all. And I did a couple of family shoots, and shoots with children and pets, and I realized that 35mm could be a very useful focal length.

With the help of some Amazon gift cards I'd been saving, and waiting for months for the price on Amazon to come down to reasonable levels post tsunami in Japan, I got the lens for very little out of pocket.

And  . . . it's kind of perfect. I still love the 50mm, and I absolutely adore the 85mm, but the 35mm is my new favorite, and is probably going to live on my camera for the next little while.

For one thing, it's a great street lens. Perfect for walking around town. And it's really sharp in the center of the frame, although the sharpness at the edges is kind of amazingly horrible. This just means I think twice about putting the focal point at the edge of the frame, which isn't much of a problem.

A cute street in the Castro.
In addition, it's small, making it low-profile. And light. I don't think anything of it when it's on the camera. Apparently, it drew enough attention that this man on the street asked me to take his picture. (I'm sure it was the 35mm lens.)

Like I said, a lot of fun on the street. Doesn't that produce in the Mission look great? A good price on those 'lemon yelows' too. If you look into the background of this photo, you can see that the bokeh's not great. It's a little nisen, also known as double-line bokeh. (Look at that clock.) But that doesn't bother me, especially since I'd have to spend a lot more to get a better 35mm lens. And it just means that if I want gorgeous blur, I have to put it in the foreground, and not the background.

You have to be a little careful with portraits with the 35mm, because it can make people's noses and heads look big. But it's fine for a full-body or torso shot, as long as you think about it. (That's Mengying, holding our precious Bi-Rite ice cream. Salted caramel and brown sugar with ginger for me, and toasted coconut and roasted banana for her. Mmmm!)

We went to Film Night in the Park at Dolores Park last night, and it was really fun. They showed Jaws, and although the film is showing its years, it still made me jump a few times. (That's not hard, as Evan would tell you.) It did get incredibly cold, but fortunately Evan showed up and brought blankets.

It was pretty popular. We got to the park around 7:00, and although the movie didn't really start until 9:00, the park was full when we got there.

One of the great things about a prime lens is shooting in low light. The 35mm is only f/2, but that seems like plenty. I very rarely wished for any more light.

Mengying was a little cold. 

And then when it gets dark, you can just go with it. All you need is the light of an iPhone.

So, to sum up: 35mm, a good little lens. And movie night in the park, also fun. The next one is Roman Holiday at Union Square on August 27, 8pm. I think I just might go. And take my 35mm lens with me.


Check out these fun skateboarding videos, too!

Also, want to check your color vision? I got a perfect score! (Zero.) Woot!


  1. I've been away for a couple weeks, but I'm glad for the chance to get back and try to catch up. I see you're keeping busy on your blog.

    Looked back over several of your recent posts and enjoyed them. Looks like you had a fun night out and I really loved the dew/rain droplets down below. Nice work.

  2. Thanks Scott! I always enjoy your comments. Definitely keeping busy . . .

  3. Looks like a great little companion for your street shots...Looks like an amazing time you had...I really love that first image!

  4. Jessica, I've been so tempted by this lens lately, and you just had to add to it! ;-)

  5. I think the iphone shot is so cool.

  6. Yeah, but Lydia you have the 50 f/1.2. I was having daydreams about the 85 f/1.2 yesterday . . . figuring I'd only have to sell a few lenses to be able to afford it, and it would be so magical . . .

    Anyway, the 35mm is great. A pretty little lens. If you can get it for cheap, do it. Otherwise I'd wait. I think the price is going to come down.


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