How to Control Perspective

Perspective can be significantly impacted via the use of lenses
Click Images To Enlarge This Article Features Photo Zoom

Perspective can be significantly impacted via the use of lenses. Wide-angle lenses take in a lot of information and push back distant objects to make them small and insignificant. On the other hand, telephoto lenses have a narrow field of view, and bring distant objects closer to make them key focal points in the image. Learn how to use these inherent effects of each lens to create images with more impact and dominance.

Same shot, different perspectives

For example, assume you’re 10 feet away from a scene that has a beautiful clump of foreground flowers and mountains off in the distance. Place a wide-angle lens on the camera, and you can get close to the flowers and still include the entire mountain in the composition. The flowers take on dominance while the mountain is somewhat reduced as a significant element. If you try to shoot the same scene with a telephoto, you’d have to walk a considerable distance from the flowers to be able to include both them and the peak. Additionally, the foreground impact of the flowers would be greatly reduced.

Think of perspective as the size and depth relationship of objects in a picture. In the accompanying photos, the size of the lady and bicycle remain the same, but the range of subject matter in the background is completely different. The image that contains more background information was made with a 24mm lens, while the compressed background image was shot with a 100mm. For the 24mm shot, I was very close to the main subject, while for the 100mm shot, I had to move away quite a distance.

Whether you photograph people, landscapes or any other subject, know what lens to use to create perspective effects. It will make you a more diverse photographer. For instance, you can distort the look of traffic conditions if you use a strong telephoto lens. The longer the lens, the more you compress the closeness of every vehicle to create a rush-hour feel. On the other hand, you can “ease the traffic conditions” if you use a wide-angle lens. To get a better feel for how this all works, try to make the same image with both a wide angle and telephoto, and note how the back and foreground are impacted.


1 Comment

    Good information for me. I am working on a set of photos with a large tall mountain in the background with a old farm barn in the foreground. Now I will be ready to take these photos and get what I want when the sky and clouds cooperate.

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