Perspective doesn’t change the same way when you zoom your lens versus when you move your feet (zoom with your feet). Understanding this difference can help you overcome challenges when you’re out in the field shooting. This video from The Slanted Lens demonstrates how to change your perspective and shoot great portraits:
The key to great portraits with a cityscape in the background is in getting the right perspective. Let’s come back to how changing the focal length and changing the subject to camera distance affect perspective differently.
When you zoom your lens, the perspective doesn’t change. The relationship between the subject and the background, as demonstrated in the image below, remains the same.
As you can see, Morgan changed the focal length from 70mm to 100mm to 135mm and finally to 200mm, and yet when he cropped the images they had identical subject to background relationships.
Compared to changing the focal length, changing the subject to camera distance had a more dramatic effect on perspective. As Morgan walked in, the subject became larger. The key here is to keep the subject the same size in the frame.
Keeping the subject the same size in the frame entails less complicacy. When he was farther away and zoomed in, the background was as large as the subject.
When he walked in and widened the focal length, he had the background pushed farther back. The background is smaller than the subject.
On the other hand, when he stepped out and zoomed in, the background became larger.
This is a comparison between 135mm at 10 feet from the subject and 70mm at 7 feet from the subject.
More Tips on Perspective
- If you want to make your background completely disappear, step back and then zoom in with a long lens.
- If you want to make the background really small, as if the subject is looking at the background that is much farther away than it is in reality, step forward and use a wider lens.
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