“Select your longest focal length and compose a portrait shot fairly tightly within the frame in front of a background with depth. Take one photograph. Then walk towards your subject while zooming out to your shortest focal length. Take care to frame the subject in precisely the same way in the viewfinder and take a second shot. Compare the two images and make notes in your learning log.”
This is my lovely Mum here, kindly posing for this and trying not to smile! You can see she is standing with the same view behind her, which changes dramatically according to the focal length.
Firstly, I’ve taken a shot at my camera’s longest focal length, and the background appears quite dominant. For the second, I’ve failed to move near enough to her, so her legs are in view. Still, the point remains that changing to the shortest focal length expands perspective and makes the distance look far off. I’m not sure why she has a church steeple sticking out of her head, but you can’t have everything!
I note that the background appears closer but is not very sharp. Depending on the depth of field, this blurring can become (deliberately) more pronounced, though its quite subtle here.
Conversely, the background appears much more distant, but is more in focus here.
My second attempt, my dog has joined us, and next door has put up her washing. This accidentally proves the point that even with nearby objects the effect is dramatically different.
Having seen this effect at work, its making me think about what I’ve never really observed before – for example how often this is used in film and television. Its also really intriguing me as to how I might use this knowledge in a broader context. So much of drawing is based on observation from the human eye (naturally). But how might an illustration change in impact if I take into account these very different background styles, or to take it further, a fish eye lens effect? I’m quite excited by the possibilities of this and will bare it in mind for the future.