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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Choosing your background with a telephoto lens


Something really important to understand about telephoto lenses is that they really bring the background in nice and close.

Take this shot here. Now the train tracks and the city are about a half a kilometre behind the cherry blossom tree. But you can see that when you use a 200mm lens they appear to be a lot closer.

So an image like this is great if the theme of your image is how nature in Japan lives side by side with the concrete jungle of the modern city.

But what if you're doing a piece on the beautiful nature that can be found in Hokkaido. Beautiful nature that is not as hemmed in by the modern world as it is on the other Japanese islands. Well in that case this picture isn't going to cut it.

But this picture will. In fact it was taken from exactly the same place - remember I'm pretty lazy and don't like to move too much if I can possibly help it!

This is the same tree taken from the other side. And this time we have a field of bright yellow rapeseed backing on to a forest. No ugly buildings to be seen.

Now if I had made this image with a wide-angle lens you would have seen buildings all around because the wide angle lens has such a vast angle of view. The telephoto, on the other hand, has a very narrow angle of view. It gets rid of everything on the left and right of the subject. Which is a very handy thing when you have ugly stuff all around and just want to concentrate on the pretty stuff.

Just remember that with the telephoto lens even things that are a few kilometres away will be very prominent in the frame so you need to walk around your subject (in this case the Sakura cherry blossom tree) until you get a background you like.

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