Friday, March 18, 2011

Perspective, Distance and Focal Length

Perspective is something that many photographers will talk about, but it is a subject that people new to photography can struggle to understand at times. Perspective is effected by two a combination of things, distance to the subject and secondly the focal length. Here is an example of what happens when you take two shots from the same distance with different lenses. The first image was taken with a 50mm prime and the second with a 28mm prime (both images taken with a full frame camera).

50mm (Normal)

28mm (Wide)

As you can see from these two images the perspective, from the same position, changes quite dramatically as you change focal lengths. So this raises the question of which focal length is better for shooting from this distance? That depends on what you are trying to capture, but generally speaking a wider angle lens is used so that you can move closer to your subject, rather than just getting more into the frame. Not that wide angle lenses cannot be used to get more into the frame, but where they truly shine is when you move closer, which again changes perspective.

The next might photo might be familiar, if you read my post from Wednesday, because it is the same image. I took this image with the same 28mm prime that I took the second photo above with, but I moved much closer to the shoreline and got lower for this shot.

28mm (Wide)

At the time I was shooting I wasn't think about making a post on perspective so I don't have a shot with different focal lengths from this position, which is too bad for the sake of today's post. In any case, I hope this helps you to better understand the importance perspective. With a few simple images we've seen how different focal lengths and the distance to the subject effects perspective in a way that is easy to see. That's all for today.