Exercise – Focal Lengths with Different Viewpoints

I took the following as the second part in our investigation into focal lengths and perspective. On the same walk as the previous exercise, I took more pictures within Bradgate Park, this time of the ruins of Bradgate Manor and of one of the ancient oaks. On each occasion, I took a picture from some distance away using my 200mm lens. I then walked directly towards the subject taking more pictures along the way, but keeping the subject the same size within the frame.

I used the AF focus points in my viewfinder to give an approximate guide to the amount of the frame that the tree I was using for the subject was filling.

Compared to the example in the coursenotes and on page 100 of The Photographer’s Eye by Michael Freeman (one of the books in our reading list), my example is not entirely effective in showing the effect. The first picture, shot at 200mm, has the effect of compressing the scene – the hill, war memorial and trees to the left of the frame appear to be close behind the subject tree and wall. It feels remote and impersonal.

In the second picture, shot at 17mm and obviously from much closer, we have a much wider field of view once more. We can see much more of the park and get a feeling for how much further away the other features are. The tree remains a similar size, but we get to see much more of its surroundings. Had this been a picture with a more interesting subject, it would have been more intimate or personal when we’re standing so close to the subject. We get a better feeling for it’s place in its surroundings.

I tried the same thing on the manor house. Again, the same effect occurs – the trees appear to be right behind the house on the 200mm picture, but once we’re up close, that separation becomes obvious. These didn’t really work as I’d not paid attention to the dip in the ground between me and the subject. This means that the resulting pictures are not really comparable as they are from different heights as well as distances.

While this proved to be another interesting exercise, once again, the resulting photographs are garbage. I did take a couple of shots on the same walk that I was happier with. What I need to learn next is how to follow the brief while producing pictures that are interesting at the same time.

Manor

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