Monello and My Favourite Lens

Monello the Jester

Today, announced their “Images of the Year”. This means that the two nature photography forums I am currently involved with have now made their selections from the photos submitted over the past year. Special congratulations to Paul Marcellini whose image “Frozen Tempest” took out the 1st place in the landscape category for both Naturescapes and Nature Photographers Network. Just click on the hyperlinks to check out the photos the respective moderating teams thought to be the stand-outs of the year.

I am of course delighted and honoured to have been named winner in the “Travel & Culture” category in the NSN awards. It’s the first time a portrait of mine has been recognised in this way. I don’t often talk about gear on this blog since these days, I find it difficult to get too excited about the newest and latest gadgets. The Canon 5DMkII provides more than enough resolution for my needs and my lenses do well enough to get the job done. My main gripes are the 5DMkII’s poor environmental sealing (it seems to stop working every time it rains) as well as the corner softness and distortion on my 16-35mm 2.8L. The one piece of gear I really love though is my portrait lens, the Canon 85mm 1.2LII. It’s a chunky nugget of a lens, focus is sluggish and it’s difficult to use wide open. But get it right and the images have pop, great contrast and the bokeh is beautiful. Being able to shoot at such wide apertures has allowed me to work without flash. It’s the lens I used to capture this portrait of Monello with the technical details handheld at ISO 400, f2, 1/500. I’ll certainly be packing it when I return to Venice for Carnevale in a couple of weeks.


“Wired” is an example of going out with the limitations of a fixed lens and seeing what you come back with. I shot this with the 85mm wide open at f1.2. Most monochrome photos of Paris celebrate nostalgia and “golden age”, however I wanted to show something of the city today. Perhaps I should have named this “Wireless” instead since many parks now offer internet connection through wifi. So here is a glimpse of Tuileries in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Lady Gaga.

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