The Flow of Nicaragua
At the end of July 2015, I found myself on a plan bound for Granada, Nicaragua—my first time to the country and to Central America. Brian Matiash shares his experience.
At the end of July 2015, I found myself on a plan bound for Granada, Nicaragua—my first time to the country and to Central America. The plan was to co-lead a workshop organized by the wonderful organization, The Giving Lens. While everything on paper seemed fine—seven students and their two co-leaders would integrate with the local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), Empowerment International, over the course of the week—nothing could prepare me for the memories and experiences that I would eventually take back home with me. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, I needed to pack.
I know that photography is nothing without an appreciation and understanding of creative vision.
The two primary considerations I kept in mind when deciding what camera gear to take was the temperature of the region and the nature of what we’d be photographing. Because Granada’s temperature exceeded 90-degrees Fahrenheit each day with sweltering humidity, I wanted to bring a minimal complement of cameras and lenses. Also, because of how tightly we were integrating with Empowerment International and their students, it seemed like we’d be focusing mostly on environmental portraits and street photography. This meant that I’d need fast lenses. My camera bodies were not a concern to me. I was taking the Sony a7 II as my primary body and the Sony a7R as my secondary. Both are light, small and exceptionally powerful cameras. To match them with glass of equally stellar performance, I relied on two primary lenses, the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 and the Batis 85mm f/1.8. Neither lens had begun shipping to consumers yet, so having this opportunity to get some real field work with them was very exciting. What was very surprising to me was that I ended up using these two lenses for 95% of the photos that I took on this trip. That was something I had not expected.
Historically, I tended to favor ultra-wide angle zoom lenses—typically a 16-35mm or a 16mm fisheye—for my photography, so relying on a pair of prime lenses at focal lengths that I was not very familiar with made me a bit nervous. However, once we began settling into the rhythm of our surroundings, I quickly learned to appreciate the 25mm and 85mm focal lengths. They gave me just the right amount of width and length, respectively, to frame up my photos without having to worry about introducing distortion. The wide apertures were a blessing for two reasons: 1. most of the people we photographed we in constant motion and 2. often times, we’d find ourselves photographing people in dimly lit locations. Having fast lenses made overcoming both obstacles very easy. Finally, there was the optical quality that Zeiss lenses are renowned for. Each night, when I’d return to my hotel room to review the photos from the day, my choice to bring both of these lenses were reaffirmed. The image quality produced—its brilliant colors, punchy contrast, and silky smooth bokeh—was nothing short of spectacular.
I know that photography is nothing without an appreciation and understanding of creative vision. No amount of gear can substitute what a trained eye and mind can frame up with the world in front of them. With that said, there is also something truly spectacular when the photo envisioned in your mind is so exquisitely captured and rendered thanks to the camera and the lens you use. In that context, I am so grateful to have used the best possible gear needed for me to capture and share the beautiful and friendly people of Nicaragua.