The Role Model That Knelt Before Me

While I cannot yet share any of my photos from last week’s road trip, I can share one of the lessons. We were joined on the third day of our Popular Mechanics road test by photographer Mark Peterson. I noticed that when he took my picture with a wide-angle lens, he got low and he got close. I’ve read that this is an effective way to use a wide angle lens, but shied away from the practice myself, fearing distortion. A light bulb went off as I watched Mark, because he got VERY LOW and VERY CLOSE. After I got home and looked at Mark’s web site, I realized that he makes that distortion work for him.

I decided to give it a try when I shot publicity photos for the Ojai Art Center Theater production of The Odd Couple (Female Version), even though I don’t have a real wide angle lens – the 17mm lens on my Nikon D300 equates to a 25.5mm lens on a 35mm camera. I got lower and moved in closer than usual, and I like the effect. Normally I’m pretty shy, so I use longer lenses to get close, but that changes perspective and, because it requires a great working distance, causes compression (loss of dimensionality).  On my next few assignments, I’m going to experiment with getting lower and getting closer with my wider lenses.

And I’m going to take every opportunity to watch other photographers at work. It’s one thing to look at the images and read about techniques, but there’s a lot to be learned by seeing the physicality of image capture.

This was another case where I regretted selling my 12-24mm zoom lens. At 17mm, I could barely get the group in the picture. I really like the immediacy that comes with a low, close, wide-angle lens. My camera is just above the game table, about two feet away. When I shoot scenes like this from the back of the theater with my longer lenses, the working distance causes compression, which reduces the appearance of depth and makes the image more two-dimensional.

I circled these two, snapping away, but couldn't get a sense of the relationship until I knelt before them.


Filed under Camera Gear, Composition, Dance and Theater

4 responses to “The Role Model That Knelt Before Me

  1. myrna

    i like these! besides, it is good exercise to get low and close … ha, and to get those knees back to upright again … a wide angle is on my wish list, after a long lens

  2. I’m sure you’re aware of the lens distortion correction tools in PS (and maybe LR, too?).

    Mongo like tools.

  3. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think it brings the corners back. That’s gotta help.

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