The Perspective Effect

We can use this changing angle of view to produce some interesting effects. If we move closer to the subject while zooming out, we can see that although the subject fills roughly the same area of the final image, in a wide angle shot a lot more of the background is included. Take a look at this series of five pictures, each one taken at approximately half the focal length of the previous one.

As you can see, as the focal length is reduced, more and more of the background comes into view behind the subject, while objects in the foreground appear much closer to the camera, increasing the perspective effect.

This effect is most significant when shooting portraits. If you use a short focal length to taker a photo of someone’s face from close up, the parts that are closer to the camera will appear disproportionately larger, distorting the facial features.

For portraits, it’s a much better idea to step back a little and zoom in. Professional portrait photographers will usually opt for a focal length of about 90-100mm, since this gives a flattering perspective and looks more natural. In fact the maximum telephoto setting on a 3x compact camera is pretty much ideal for taking portrait shots.

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