Sometimes you need to change your perspective

The focal length of the lens you choose will totally change your perspective.

Here is a visual representation of what I mean. I’ve tried to keep Shawn the same size in each of the photos. Same f-stop on each photo (f-8.0) and no cropping or any fancy stuff on any of the photos.

The first photo was taken with a wide angle lens, 24mm to be exact. Look at the distance relationship between the Shawn and the red barn in the background.

Now look at the second photo here. It was taken with a medium telephoto lens with a 70mm focal length. Notice how the red barn in the background is much closer to Shawn than it appears in the wide angle shot.

The third photo was taken using a telephoto lens with a 200mm focal length. Notice how the barn looks really close to Shawn now. I never moved the barn, in case you’re wondering.

This demonstrates that a lens with a long focal length will compress the distance from front to back in your photo, while a short focal length lens (wide angle) will make things look far away.

Even if you have a basic 18 – 55 mm zoom lens you should be able to do this experiment yourself. If you don’t have a model, use a park bench, a tree, your bicycle, or your dog. You can see this relationship best if you have a foreground subject to compare in each case.

Depth of field

Notice how the depth of field decreases with the longer focal length. Depth of field is how much of the photo is in focus. In all the above photos, the camera was set to f-8.0, a middle of the road f-stop. This example also shows you that as you increase focal length the depth of field decreases, so less is in focus.

Like this tip?

If you want more lessons like this one, on creative uses of optics, depth of field and shutter speed, check out my photo fundamentals online course. Registration is open!

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