Friday, 14 May 2010

Exercise: Focal lengths and different viewpoints

Exercise: Focal lengths and different viewpoints - for cameras with variable focal lengths (with a zoom or interchangeable lenses)

Find a scene that has enough space in front of it to allow you a choice of viewpoint, from near to far. Avoid a flat subject; it must have some depth - a building will do, or a person in a setting. Start with the telephoto lens and make a tightly framed composition – that is, with the subject filling the frame. Study the view through the viewfinder very carefully, and remember the limits at the edges of the frame. Take your shot. Change lenses to the wide-angle. Then, in a straight line, walk forward, looking through the viewfinder until the same subject fills the frame. Take the second shot.

Figure 1 - 144mm

This first image of the sundial on the Front Lawn of our garden was taken with the lens set to 144mm

Figure 2 - 18mm

For the second image I set the lens to its widest setting and moved closer to the sundial until the subject was framed as close as possible to the original image, shown in Figure 1 above.
A couple of observations of differences between the two images can be seen, the first is around the distortion of the subject in the second image, with the base of the sundial appearing to slope towards the bottom of the base, while in the original image, the subject is seen with the base have almost vertical lines.
Also, in the first image, the subject is somewhat isolated from the background, with the background out of focus. The second image shows the background much sharper, even though the image was taken with a wider aperture, f3.5 for Figure 2, compared with f5.6 for Figure 1.
This isolation from the background gives the image a much softer feel than the overall sharper background in the second image

Friday, 7 May 2010

Exercise - Focal Lengths

Exercise: Focal lengths - for cameras with variable focal lengths (with a zoom or interchangeable lenses)

Find a view that is open and at the same time has some details in the distance, in the middle of the view. Then, without moving, using a tripod if you have one, take a sequence of photographs, all aimed in the same direction, with whatever range of lenses you have been able to assemble or with different settings on a zoom lens. Vary the composition slightly if you think it benefits a particular image in the sequence. In the photos below you can see the enormous differences focal length can make to an image.

This sequence of images was taken on a recent skiing holiday, looking out of the apartment window, overlooking the pistes

Figure 1 - 18mm

The first image was taken at the widest angle available on the lens, 18mm, and gives the viewer a good “feel” of the environment, showing a number of skiers enjoying the new perfect skiing conditions.

Figure 2 - 28mm

The second image in the sequence is taken at 28mm, and while still gives the viewer a good general view of the environment, the viewer is led towards the mountain in the background by the dark line of trees that leads the viewer from the right hand side of the frames to a point where the mountain starts to rise a little to the left of centre of the frame

Figure 3 - 59mm

The third image of the sequence shows the mountain dominating the frame, seeming to sit on the line of trees in the lower section of the frame

Figure 4 - 125mm

The fourth image in the sequence shows the building perched on top of the mountain, which now only shows the mountain, with none of the skiing that is still going on directly in front of the position where the photograph was taken. The viewer is given the impression that this is a cold a desolate environment, with no signs of life.

Figure 5 - 200mm

The fifth and final image of the sequence shows the building on the top of the mountain as the main subject of the frame, while the viewer can see some form of life, by the two cable cars seen approaching and leaving the building, the viewer is not aware of the many hundreds, if not thousands, of skiers that are no more than a few yards from the position where the photograph was taken.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Exercise One – Focal Length and Angle of View

This exercise required three photographs taken at differing focal lengths, the first a near life like, the second with the camera at is shortest focal length, and the final image wit the camera set to its longest focal length. For this exercise the camera was set to automatic and only the focal length was changed.

ISO400, 40mm, F8.0, 1/125 sec

Starting with an image of the Chimonanthus praecox (Winter Sweet) that grows outside of the house, this was taken with the view through the viewfinder looking the same to that seen by the unaided eye.  Much of the detail and interest of the primary object of the picture, the shrub, is lost, due to the inclusion of the background.  The result is what comes across as a messy image.

ISO 400, 18mm, F8.0, 1/160sec

A second shot was taken, with the lens set to its widest setting, this time at 18mm. Compared to the previous image that overall picture seems much better inasmuch at least the entire shrub is visible. The initial photograph did not show all of the plant, this image allows the viewer to see the overall plant in respect to its surroundings, giving a better understanding of the plant, but still lacks impact.
ISO400, 200mm, F7.1, 1/250sec

The final shot in this set was taken with the lens set to its furthest telephoto setting. This focuses the attention on the flowers of the plant, and eliminates much of the distracting background that surrounds the plant that was seen in the previous two.

Also, zooming into the image has had the effect of throwing much of the background out of focus, again, allowing the primary area of interest, the flowers, to grab the viewers interest.

While this improves the overall effect of the picture, this could have been improved by moving the camera to have less sunlight of the branches behind the flowers to further highlight the flowers.

While zooming in improves the overall effect of the third picture in the above set of images, this may not always be the same for a different set of images. The set below was taken looking out across the fields at the back of our house.

ISO400 59mm f13 1/400sec


ISO400 18mm f11 1/320sec

This image shows a good view of the fields taken from the garden, with the foreground forming a frame that leads the viewer to the objects seen in the distance.

More light on the foreground may have improved the dark areas that are a bit harsh compared to the background.

ISO400 200mm f10 1/500sec