How The Lens Affects Composition

Photography - 101 Learning More About Your Camera
8 minutes
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In this video, we're gonna take a few minutes to talk about how the lens effects composition. Now, did you know Michelle, that they're actually fat and skinny lenses? I have heard this rumor. It's true. Why do people think that why do people think there are fat and skinny lens? It's all about TV.

Right? They say that on TV, you get an extra five or 10 pounds, five or 10 pounds automatically. I look 50 pounds skinnier than I do right now. Yeah, like a zero. I pride myself on that. Okay, so why why is it that people get that perception of certain lenses?

Really? It's about perspective. Yes, yes. And the field of view of your lens. Exactly. And you mentioned one thing, their perspective, which is huge, because there's actually two types of distortion that I wanted to talk about.

One is lens distortion, and one is perspective distortion, right? And oftentimes, these two things are actually confused with one another. Now perspective distortion has to do with how close you You are to your subject. And you'll notice that really with anything in our field of vision, the closer it gets to our faces, the larger it appears right? In relation to whatever's behind it. So in reality, my hand is not bigger than this entire house, but at this distance it does appear to be.

So if we are close to our subjects, then you're making subjects basically appear larger than they actually are. This is perspective distortion, the further away that we get, the smaller they appear in relation to everything around them. And the closer we get, the larger they are, but what about lens distortion? Well, lens distortion has its own thing, really a field of view of 16, which is a much wider lens, right has its own distortion where it stretches out the edges. So if you were to shoot a bunch of people and you put some on the edge, it might widen them. Exactly lens distortion is that tendency for and typically it happens more.

So the wider the angle lens, so you mentioned 16 millimeters, it will happen at 35. It'll happen at 50 millimeters, even But it just happens to a lesser extent. And so the lens is basically bending light around the edges and that's where you notice the lens distortion the most. On a wide angle lens, you'll see lens distortion pretty much everywhere but the center of that lens, so it wouldn't be too flattering. If I were to say pop on this wide angle, 14 millimeter lens, and I shoot you from this distance that would be very, very bad, that would not be good. So what would be flattering then as a portrait lens, you probably want to use a zoom lens or something that's fixed at say an 85, which is my favorite portrait lens.

I think that is I have a second that the 85 millimeter, whatever variant you have, we're using the one two professionally but for the entire workshop, we use the one eight and it's an incredible lens. It's a perfect lens for portraiture. So yes, standing back a little bit further zooming in it will eliminate that kind of that lens distortion. So perspective distortion and lens distortion. Those are the two things that we kind of have to combat. Now.

We did a cannon lens or series by Azhar lounge. And in that series, we actually took the exact same shot well, very similar shot actually where we basically took the same composition, we shot it first at 16, or I think it was 17 millimeters to start with. And then we backed up to 2435 50 7100 200 300, shooting the same composition on each of these shots, we were able to Well, what we did it for was actually to compare the lenses to one of the one of the visual differences in lenses, whether there was actually as big of quality differences, as people would think between, say 51.8 versus the 1.4 versus the 1.2. Now is very interesting. We found out that really, in reality, when you look at these images, there's not as big of a difference between these lenses as you would think and in often cases, primes just even the mediocre primes like $100 to 300 or $400 primes, they outdid all the other cameras or at least all the other lenses I should say, hold on one second.

So a prime is a fixed focal length. Like a 50, you can't zoom in or out, you literally have to step closer or farther from your subject and zoom allows you to change that. So you don't have to step closer to subject zoom in. Yeah, essentially with a zoom, you get the convenience of having the extra while not having to move so much you control your composition with your focal length with a prime like you said, you're moving back and forth a lot, but then you get kind of well you get better low light, you get a better focus. Okay, so what we found out also was that in addition to comparing the lenses we were able to see the difference in distortion in lens distortion, but also perspective distortion. So it's crazy to see basically when we take that shot up close to 17 millimeters, our model looks all distorted and each step back you can see the model kind of look more and more normal normal color, but normal every girl would like to write normal, well every guy to be skinny.

I don't like to look normal, and minus 50 pounds. This is plus 50 pounds. Okay? You're not wearing weight. So, so yeah, with every step back, the other thing that happens is that these telephoto lenses, they kind of emphasis something that we refer to as lens compression, right? Something interesting about lens compression.

Here's the thing, lens compression, we refer to basically as telephoto lenses as demonstrating or illustrating lens compression. Basically what that is, is the background elements appear closer to the subject than they actually are. Now, the interesting thing is that if you take a shot at 24 millimeters, and you take a shot at 200 millimeters, and then you zoom into that 24 millimeter shot all the way so you have the same exact field of view as you did on that 200 millimeter image. The compression is actually identical. It is did you find these out during the lens War series? Yeah, well, we we knew that before lens were serious, but a lot of people think that the compression is actually having to do with the lens itself.

And in reality not it's not the reason why we refer to it so much as being kind of the lens creating that that compression effect is because who would ever take a shot at 24 millimeters and then zoom That little tiny pinpoint what would be the point of that there's absolutely no point in that. So we go to these lenses because they kind of further emphasize that effect. But what that effect really is, is by standing back further, what's happening is, is we're changing that perspective distortion. So we stand back further, the distance between the subject and the background is relatively shorter. Basically, now you're talking about photographers perspective. Exactly.

So when we took that shot, and you can see it when we took that shot at 17 millimeters, the trunk and the background of the tree looks like it's actually like several feet behind the model, it looks like it's disappearing into the landscape. Because our distance of the model is very close the models distance the background is further and then as we start to back up, the distance, the model in the background didn't change but our distance to that model did. So the further we step back, the more it looks like the trunk is actually coming forward. Okay to add on to what I just said about lens compression. I want you to remember this very simple tip. wide angle lenses.

Exaggerate distances and telephoto lenses compressed distances. So like I said, while we call this effect lens compression, and while we use different lenses to achieve the look, the compression really has nothing to do with the lens it has to do with a photographer's perspective. Now when we talk about lens compression and effect that we want, we just say that we want to compress the background with a certain lens. But it's actually good to know that the compression isn't actually coming from the lens, but rather the distance between the photographer, the subject and the background. And the lens is just there to help achieve that zoom and the composition that we want. So either way, the most important takeaway here again, is that shooting close to the subject on a wide angle lens will definitely exaggerate the distance between the subject in the background and then stepping back and using a longer telephoto lens will compress or pull forward that background.

So it Looks closer to the subject. All right, so we've covered lens compression, we've covered lens distortion and perspective distortion, everything have been covered. So if you guys want more information, check out the Canon lens Wars series on as our lounge you guys can see us compare all the different lenses from set, I think we started with 16 millimeters all the way up to 300 millimeters and everything that range, we compare lenses against one another. So we compared basically the 50 millimeter one eight versus the one four versus the one two and compare that to say at 2470 at 50 millimeters to show you the visual differences. So it's a great visual comparison of all these different lenses. That's it for this video though, right?

I think so we're done here. So let's head on to the next video now.

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