Never in my life had I thought I would see a yacht that a President had vacationed on, let alone be on one. But this week, I indeed found myself on the USS Potomac, otherwise known as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s ‘Floating White House.’ Formally the USCGC Electra, a Coast Guard ‘submarine chaser’ commissioned in 1934, F.D.R. began using the ship as his private yacht in 1936 until his death in 1945. In 1941, the ship played a decoy role as F.D.R and the leaders of the United Kingdom developed the Atlantic Charter, which defined the Allies’ goals after the end of World War II.
But there I was, boarding this historic vessel in McCovey Cove, situated just outside of the San Francisco Giants stadium. The friendly and knowledgeable Oakland-based crew had come here to pick us up for a perfectly timed sunset cruise along San Francisco’s Embarcadero to the Golden Gate Bridge, where we would briefly cross the bridge towards the Pacific Ocean before heading back to dock as blue hour descended on the famed city by the bay.
The late arriving ‘San Francisco Summer’ provided near perfect weather and conditions to test out Sony’s newest lens, the G Master 24mm f/1.4. A group of journalists in town to cover Sony’s #BeAlpha community event had stayed an extra day to get a hands on preview of Sony’s latest addition to their high end E-Mount lens lineup.
As a travel photojournalist, I love using a wide angle focal length. Not only does a wide angle lens capture daily life across the world in a way that makes the viewer feel as they are closer to the action, but it also forces a photojournalist to get closer and more intimate with their subjects. I have often found that my favorite travel portraits and street scenes were captured after I had started a conversation with my subjects, photographing them from up close after they felt comfortable with me. After recently spending three days studying my friend David Duchemin’s travel photography course, I have been inspired to focus on getting closer to the action on my travels. So when Sony put their just announced 24mm f/1.4 G Master in my hands for a day, I was overjoyed. Owning two Sony cameras and depending on them to capture my travels around the world, I must have sounded like a broken record when I commented to my fellow journalists over and over that this may be my dream travel lens. The lens that forces me to be a more engaging and attentive photographer.
Of course, I own a 16-35mm lens, but being that it is Sony’s original f/4 lens and not the updated G Master 16-35mm f/2.8. My wide angle images rarely look sharp to me, so I hesitate to depend on it for a casual stroll around the many locations around the world that I visit, knowing that I won’t be able to capture fast moving street scenes and portraits that live up to the high standards my readers expect. But after using this 24mm f/1.4 G Master, I am confident that this lens will be in my daily travel bag for years to come.
With the limited amount of time that I had with the lens, I wasn’t able to put it through the use that I normally would as a travel photographer. Using this lens in a place like Chefchaouen, Morocco would have been incredible. But on this warm California day, I found myself cutting through the choppy waters of San Francisco Bay, photographing the hustle of the metropolis from the outside. I was excited to see the images appear on the Sony A7rIII LCD, and when I imported them into my Lightroom Catalog, they did not disappoint. So far, I am in love with this lens and cannot wait to take it with me on an upcoming 5 week trip to Morocco and Jordan as I lead photography workshops for The Giving Lens. Follow my Instagram to see my images using this lens starting in late October.
Editor’s Note: Sony paid for me to come to San Francisco for this event, but I was not compensated in any additional way. My opinions on this lens are my own.