Perspective - Finding the place in space

When you have chosen a lens size (or a particular focal length on a zoom lens) for a certain subject, you have taken an important step toward determining the perspective your picture will have. Perspective simply means how foreground objects appear in relation to those objects farther back in a scene - relative size, relative position and relative importance. A big close up of a man's face with a tiny mountain range showing in the far distance gives a much different impression than a picture of the man's full figure overshadowed by huge mountains looming in the near distance. How to control perspective in camera photography? This is a technique on coordinating the space in a photo and understanding the relation between background and subject to be photographed.

Lens focal length, as we know, determines image size from any one particular distance. However, there is a corollary: lens focal length also dictates lens to subject distance when image size is kept the same. At a distance of 2.7m (8ft) from a man a wide angle lens may give you a picture of his entire body. At the same distance a telephoto lens may give you only his head. The magnifications are entirely different. If you wish to include his entire body with the telephoto lens, you will have to move back a good distance.

The increased distance between you and the subject will give you a full length shot as with the wide angle lens, but what a difference there will be in the background! Everything in the distance will be much closer with the full length telephoto shot than with the wide angle shot. That is because the telephoto lens has magnified every object in the picture quality. You have moved back so that when the man is enlarged you will still get his whole body into the frame. You were close to him to begin with, so moving back a short distance includes a lot more of him. However, you have moved very little in relation to the background. Therefore, when the background is magnified along with the man, it appears much more prominent than in the wide angle view. You have changed the perspective.

Perspective in photography would appear to be controlled by the lens focal length, but that is true only to the extent that the focal length determines how far away from your subject you will have to be to get the image size you want. Actually, it is camera position and camera to subject distance that control perspective and dictate how the various parts of a picture will appear in relation to one another.

For further proof use just one of the two lenses and take two more pictures. This time take the shots at two distinctly different distances from some nearby object. A full print from each of the image will show that the foreground object has changed in size and position in relation to the background when the camera was moved.

More information about camera settings

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