Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wide angle lenses

Well I'm back from a short assignment. It turned out to be more hours of driving than photography but was a productive trip nonetheless. In a little while I'm going to start a series of posts on the structure of a travel photography assignment and what's really involved in doing this for a living.

But before I get to that let's continue on with our talk about lenses. Last time we talked about telephotos and their uses so let's move on to wide-angle lenses.

If you remember, in 35mm photography a standard lens is considered to be a 50mm so anything wider than that is a wide-angle lens. Common starting points for wide-angle zoom lenses are 28mm, 24mm and 16mm (extreme wide-angle). You can even get specially built digital wide-angle zooms which cover an angle of something like 10-22mm or 12-24mm - which is roughly the equivalent of 16-35mm in film camera terms.

I guess it goes without saying that wide-angle lenses make things look wide but not necessarily in the way that you may think. They increase the apparent distance between objects running from the foreground to the background. In other words two objects that might actually be quite close to each other look like they are miles apart. Things that are very close to the camera look big and things that are a long way away from the camera look very small.

If you have a look at the photograph above the rock in the foreground right near the camera looks very large, whereas the one seemingly a long way back in the middle of the river looks very small. In actual fact the closer rock is about a quarter of the size of the far away rock. It only looks big because it's so close to the camera, and the other rock only looks small because it's far away from the camera.

You can see how this would transate if you took a picture of a person standing in front of a landmark such as Ayers Rock or the Sydney Opera House. The rock would look very small and very far away and not very impressive at all. Remember if you want to make things look big and close you need to use the telephoto.

If you want to make things look very small and very far away - reach for the wide-angle. Over the coming posts I'll show you some common examples of when wide-angles are used to make things appear not quite as they really are!

Oh I nearly forgot, the above picture was taken at Noah Creek deep in the heart of the Daintree National Park in far north Queensland. It was taken with a 28mm wide-angle lens with a small aperture (thus the large depth-of-field). It was shot on Fuji Velvia film.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Off on assignment

Hi there everybody, just wanted to let you know that I'm heading off on assignment for a couple of days. Lonely Planet Images have me working on a big job photographing most of far north Queensland for a big, top-secret project. I'm working on the second half now after the first half got washed out in the wet season!

Anyway I'm headed off to Townsville and Charters Towers for a couple of days but will be back on board Thursday.