I had been hearing about the Maryland Wine Festival ever since I moved to Westminster – my colleagues and friends had assured me that every producer in Maryland would be there with a sampling of all their wares – seemed too good a deal to pass up, especially since I was coming from Illinois – not exactly a wine growers paradise. What surprised me most was the Carnival atmosphere, it was a lot of fun.

As for the wines… I was expecting a limited choice of wines from Eastern grapes, but apparently the Maryland climate is moderate enough to grow every major grape varietal. I had originally planned on going there with Lakshmi and Jayaram, but they had a previous engagement that weekend and could not make it – so it was just my nephew Vasudev and I. He was thrilled with the carnival setting and all the food, and I was running around sampling the locally grown wines – no drinking of course, since I had to drive back all the way. Next time we will take a designated driver :).

Anyway, I had the OM-PC with me that day, with the Zuiko 35mm prime – I knew there would be a crowd, and I wanted a lens that would take in the whole scene. It had been raining the previous day, and well into the morning, but it was clear and sunny when we got there – the light was just superb, the kind you see just after a storm. Ideal light for photography. Now a 35mm lens is good for enclosed spaces when there is a tight fit, or for conveying a sense of intimacy by “getting into the picture”, so to speak. Lots of photographers swear by them as their primary lens instead of the 50mm.

However, in a spread out setting such as the Festival, I found it difficult to compose – people were milling about, and the 35mm’s wide angle pulled in lots of things I really wasn’t interested in – besides, the close focusing distances needed prevented me from isolating the people and happenings that I really wanted to photograph without getting in their faces. I finally gave up and concentrated on getting a few pictures that would capture the energy of the festival.

Lesson learned – a short zoom like 28-85mm Vivitar or Zuiko 35-70mm would have been ideal. If I did not mind the extra weight, perhaps a lens such as the Kiron 80-200mm or 35-135mm mid-range zoom. The close focus and greater depth of field afforded by the wide-angle is advantageous sometimes, but not in this instance – the distance I had to maintain to keep from intruding in the revelry left me with very small image sizes. Another thing – in a milling crowd, someone is always going to walk into your lens’ field of view, and the problem is exacerbated with a wide angle.

2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival

Photographed with a OM-PC (aka OM-40) with a Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 and Fuji 200 film


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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