Barrio Viejo Encore


Front Walk. A patch of sunlight hits the decorative metalwork on a colorful gate in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

I know that I promised last week that this week I would move on from Barrio Viejo, but if you followed the comments on last week’s post, you know that I succumbed to Rob W’s request to publish some stragglers that didn’t make the planned three posts. I keep my weekly posts fairly concise with about 4-6 images and associated text—the goal is for my readers to be excited by another brief installment of my photographic adventures, not to be burdened by them. Each post also sticks to a theme and, in the interest of variety, I try not to dwell for too many weeks on the same location and similar themes. So, at risk of overstaying my welcome in Barrio Viejo, here we go!

For general use, I love my Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S because it is so versatile. I recently watched (part of) a YouTube video (until it got tiresome) where a photographer that seems to be well-known spent his time (and mine) pixel-peeping duplicate images from this lens and a Nikkor Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S. Several images in, he found a spot in an image that, “to his eye,” was better in the latter… Well, that wasn’t very compelling. I have no problem believing that the other lens, strictly speaking, is a little better. It is also a little bigger, a fair bit heavier, and twice the price. I don’t usually shy away from big lenses and have at least four other lenses that are at least as expensive as that one, but I have thousands of photos with the 24-120 and have yet to feel like it wasn’t sharp enough, so the quality argument doesn’t sway me. Make no mistake, I am really fond of top-notch lenses, it’s just that a lens has to be worth its space in the bag and I would rather have the 24-120mm focal range covered at f/4 than 24-70mm at f/2.8…one extra stop isn’t enough to really matter to me. When I want shallow depth of field, I bring my 85mm f/1.8, which is a full two-and-a-third stop faster than f/4 and the 24-70mm can’t compete with. Even if it did go to 85mm. Which it doesn’t.

As I have mentioned before about my trips to Santorini and Andalucía, I feel that I need to rely less on my basic 14-24, 24-120, 100-400 trio of zooms. Part of the reason is that wide-aperture primes let you play with shallow depth of field in a more extreme way. The image at the top of this post is in this category, shot wide open at f/1.8 with my Nikkor Z 85mm f/1,8 S. This is an image that would work at f/4, but wouldn’t look as good.

One consequence of the narrow depth of field, of course, is that it wants to force you to shoot square-on to the subject. This tends to be something that in urban settings I do a lot with windows and doors and such, even at more moderate apertures because I want everything in focus:

Invitation. Warm lights invite the passerby to knock before evening settles on Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.
Air Conditioning. The late afternoon shadows rake across the wall and open window of a building in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.
Double-Double. A double-gate with double-padlocks protects electrical equipment in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

The three images above were all taken with the 24-120 at f/11, f/11, and f/8, respectively and (for me) unsurprisingly. I like all three images, but these straight-on images of fundamentally flat subjects are perhaps a little too common in my archives. Here is another, although it uses my shallow-depth-of-field-specialty-lens, the 85mm f/1.8, in a deep-depth-of-field manner at f/16:

Hesitation. An agave cactus defends a corrugated metal wall in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

There is nothing wrong with using a fast f/1.8 lens in such a manner, but I undoubtedly did so more out of laziness than anything else: it must have already been on the camera in lieu of the 24-120 in hopes of finding a shallow-depth-of-field subject when I stumbled upon this. (Confirmed! Looking in my Lightroom catalog, it was the ninth and last image taken in a row with this lens; the second was the image at the top of this post.)

Despite the mild tone of self-flagellation in this post, I do have some non-straight-on images from Barrio Viejo:

Trimlessness. A stucco building is devoid of any decoration other than its bold colors in Barrio Viejo, Tucson, Arizona.

The issue is not that all I have is straight-on compositions from this sort of urban walk-around, but that I have too many: 15 of the 23—call it two-thirds—of the images in this series of four posts are straight-on. Clearly I need to work on mixing it up rather than squaring it up.

Technical notes. The photographs in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7. The first two were taken with the Nikkor Z 85mm f/1,8 S and the others were taken with the Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S. All were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic.

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3 responses to “Barrio Viejo Encore”

  1. Gosh! I got a mention .. even if it is somewhat rueful!
    Well, I liked these images. The play of shadows on ‘Air Conditioning’ works well, and ‘Double-Double’ repays repeated viewing especially for the almost hidden elements on the background. The colours are great.
    Next week: silence from me for at least a few days!