A matter of perspective

The thing about newspaper photography is that it encompasses many different situations. I normally carry two zoom lenses with me in my kit. A 24-70mm wide angle zoom (which is usually on the camera when it’s in my bag) and a 70-200mm telephoto zoom. This range allows me cover most of the conditions that I encounter.

Most people may think that a telephoto lens is just to bring things that are far away closer. That’s only partly true.

I’m always encouraging people to move in as close as possible to get their pictures. There’s a saying in photography that “the best zoom lens is your feet.” Meaning that rather than getting a fancy (re: expensive) telephoto lens, it’s better just to move in closer to your subject. If that’s true, (excluding those cases where you just can’t get closer) then why not have a shorter lens and just step closer? In a word: perspective.

The angle of view of each lens and focal length is different. If take photos with different lenses with the subject is about the same relative size in the frame, each shot will have a different look. With a wide-angle lens more of the background will be included. The narrower angle of view of a telephoto will show less of the background.

Also a wide-angle lens will tend to spread thing out relative to each other so things will look further away. A telephoto on the other hand will compress the scene and things will look closer together. A person’s face when taken with a wide-angle will look more rounded while a telephoto will have the opposite effect.

Your choice of lenses will also affect the feeling of your photo. In general a wide-angle lens, because you have to get closer to your subject to fill the frame, will give a sense of intimacy due to your proximity to your subject. Conversely, photos take with a telephoto will seem more candid because of the greater distance between you and what you’re photographing.

If you take a certain type or style of photo in the same or similar situations then a single lens may suit you. But if you encounter varied scenes and circumstances then you may want to get more than one for the different effects that they can bring to your photos.

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  • Blog Author

    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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