From My Perspective  

The word “perspective” has two definitions. In regard to art, it relates to two-dimensional surfaces where their depth, height and width, when compared to each other, are viewed differently. A second definition relates to opinion as it chronicles your particular attitude or way of regarding something—your point of view. After pondering both definitions for a spell, I had an awakening and noticed I could marry the two in regard to photography and dispense principle concepts as they relate to lenses and positions from where a photographer stands. So from my perspective, I share with you this week’s Tip of the Week.

Lenses and Position of the Photographer #1

From My Perspective

Study the compositions in both red rock scenics. In doing so, you’ll notice many key subjects are the same. I do realize there are a few differences, but for the most part, the foreground rocks and the formation known as the Chimney reside in both images. I used a longer lens and stood farther back to make the photo on the left. I used a wider lens and got very close to the foreground rocks to make the photo on the right. In the image on the left, the Chimney dominates the composition and the foreground rocks become secondary elements. In the image on the right, it’s the opposite. By getting close, low and using a wide-angle lens, foreground elements dominate. It’s easy to distort reality. The main foreground rock looks immense in the right-side photo and small in the left. The viewer can be deceived by the photographer by the position from where the photo is made and the lens that is used to create it. One of my photo tour mantras I tell all my participants is to “exhaust all possibilities.” Using the concepts presented above is one way to accomplish this.

Lenses and Position of the Photographer #2

From My Perspective

Study the compositions in both images of the guy standing with his foot on the bumper of his car. Notice how the background drastically changes but the primary subject remained the same size. If the background changed, why didn’t the size of the subject transform? Again, I changed the focal length and my shooting position. As the caption states, I made the photo on the left with a 100mm lens and I stood closer to the man. For the image on the right, I moved back and used a 200mm lens. Given the fact I doubled the focal length, I had to move farther away to keep the figure and the car the same size. Neither the building nor the guy moved, but because I used different focal length lenses from different shooting positions, the perspective changes. The longer focal length has a narrower angle of view. That’s why there’s less background information in the photo on the right. Use the above information to control what your backgrounds look like in your future image-making excursions.

Proximity to Your Subject in Conjunction with the Focal Length of the Lens

From My Perspective

Study the position of the building in both compositions of the abandoned structure. In the image on the left, there’s more of a tilt to the facade. Whenever a photographer uses a wide-angle lens and gets close to a tall subject, the photographer has to tilt the camera upward to capture it from top to bottom. Tilting a camera with a wide-angle lens is synonymous with perspective distortion. When possible, move away from the building, use a longer lens and avoid tilting the camera. In big cities with narrow streets, if you want the end result of the structure you photograph to appear without distortion, get as far away from it as possible, use as telephoto a lens as possible and keep the camera and lens as perpendicular to it as possible. After doing these three things, if you still notice distortion in the viewfinder, use a wider focal length to make the capture and correct the perspective distortion in Photoshop. The reason to include “extra” information in the RAW file is that the perspective tool will correct the tilt, but in doing so, it needs to throw away the peripheral pixels, so you’ll wind up using just the inside 90 or so percent of the pixels in the original capture. If you’ve never used the perspective correction tool in Photoshop, Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, try it. It’s easy to master.

Visit www.russburdenphotography.com for information about his nature photography tours and safari to Tanzania.

Photography is what motivates me to move through life in a positive way. Photography is ͞All About The Light͟ and it’s the first thing I seek out before I press the shutter. Optimally, I pursue great subjects in great light, but if there’s an ordinary subject in great light, I still press the shutter. I love to share the photographic knowledge I’ve accumulated and I hope my enthusiasm is contagious so I can motivate others to feel the same way I do about my photography.

4 Comments

    Great article! The photos really illustrate how much of an impact the various lenses and positions have. Now I’m motivated to go out and try some new things!

    Excellent information, Russ. I have enjoyed reading your articles and how-to hints for over a year now. And with each new article, you share so many small “tricks” and tips that help to make my photos “Pop”! I recently went to our local Botanical Gardens, and, although I captured 55 snaps, I came home with one photograph that came out exactly as I had envisioned it. Although, I did forget one important detail. I had been shooting some close-ups that I wanted to have the background out-of-focus with an aperture of f-2.8.

    At 68, short-term-memory loss is a force to be reckoned with constantly when I am lost in the beauty of my surroundings. I should have increased the depth-of-field and kept the everything “tack-sharp”. Next time I will get that photograph I was after.

    Thank you for sharing you knowledge, skill, expertise, talent, and generosity with me and other Outdoor Photographer readers. Bravo, Russ!

    Great article!
    As an amateur enthusiast, I still struggle with perspective and focal lengths.Knowing what lens to bring along becomes a challenge.So to make it easier I carry my zoom lens, 18mm-300mm on my DX. I try different focal lengths, different positions and different distances from the object.My belief is that as I practice more and more, someday intuitively, I will be able to decide if I want to carry a wide angle lens, a zoom lens or the nifty fifty.
    Thanks for article with images to illustrate your points.

    Laura, James and Ernest – thanks for the kind words. They motivate me to keep writing and make more photos. I just returned from Tanzania accumulating more images to use as reference pics for future Tips of the Week!

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