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

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wide angle lenses, space and a giant fountain

Yesterday I showed you a shot with the telephoto lens (scroll down to take a look if you missed it) and how it compressed the perspective so it looked like the guy was about to get his leg chomped by a giant crocodile.

Today we've gone the other way to a wide angle lens, but ironically we're still emphasising size.

Now as I've mentioned before, when you use the wide angle lens things that are close to the camera appear big and things that are away from the camera look small.

That means that compositionally speaking if you want to make something look big one trick you can use is to get close to it with a wide angle lens and contrast it with something that you can make small and a long way away. Now this giant fountain is not small by any means. In fact it shoots up 48 metres into the air! So it really is big. It's in the middle of Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, Japan. The whole park is full of these wonderful slides and swings all in the form of abstract sculptures designed by a famous Japanese sculptor by the name of Noguchi Isamu.

Now if I walked back a long way and shot it with a telephoto lens the fountain itself would look big, but so would the people in the background. Not only would they look big but they would look close to the fountain, so you wouldn't get the sense of the giant amount of space around the gushing water. The water itself would look wide and powerful but you wouldn't get the sense of height and space.

So I chose to use a wide angle lens and lean far out over the barrier to get as close to the fountain as I could - which isn't very close mind you when you're only small! But the effect is that the gushing water looks big and powerful compared to the tiny little people behind. The other trick I've used is that I haven't shown the tip of the water. In other words how far exactly it goes up is up to your imagination. It could end just north of the frame or it could go a lot farther up. That gives even more of an impression of size and height.

So yesterday and today have used two different lenses with the similar effect of size, but the opposite effect in terms of how far apart or close to objects appear in the frame. The telephoto makes two objects look close to each other and the wide angle makes two objects look far apart from each other.

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