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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Remember this - telephoto lenses make things big!

A pleasant surprise on this trip was the outdoor concerts being held underneath the giant statues. Well it was pleasant for those of us who went along to see it, but it looked bloody uncomfortable for those trying to play instruments in the freezing temperatures. I could hardly get my hands back in my gloves quick enough after pushing the shutter button, I dread to think what it was like trying to play a barre chord on an electric guitar!

The first concert I came across was a nice little quartet playing jazzy numbers underneath a big Olympics statue. My first impulse was to grab the wide-angle lens and fit everything in but after looking at the image on the LCD I realised it wasn't doing it for me. Everything was just too small. Yes the musicians were small underneath the statues, but the statues themselves didn't look as giant as they were in real life. I mean these things are huge but the wide-angle just makes them look big.

So I walked backwards away from the stage. That's right. When you use the telephoto lens you need to walk away from your subject to get it all in. The other trick with telephoto lenses in crowded places is that because you're walking farther away from the action (in this case the stage) you're going to be behind a whole bunch of people. And unless you're 7 foot tall you're going to be looking at the back of a bunch of heads!

So as I was walking away from the stage I kept on looking behind me for breaks in the crowd, and in front of me for anywhere where I could stand to get a bit of height. I didn't manage to find any mounds, steps or anything like that but I did notice something about the crowds. The number of people watching would swell just as the nearby traffic lights turned green, and then when the traffic lights turned red again the numbers would drop away as people moved on to the next event.

So I found a good angle and just sat and waited until the crowds thinned out and I could shoot between the heads. And this is what I got.

Now doesn't that statue look huge! That's pretty much how it appeared to the naked eye - just this giant snow judo competitor towering over this small singer on stage.

But to give the impression of size I had to use the telephoto lens. In this case it was a smidge over 200mm and I'm about 50 metres away from the stage.

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