The Right Perspective for the Job

I took liberties with the coloration and angle, and I hope the theater submits this to the newspaper, because I think the image has some pop and depth. Of course, depth is a double-edged sword.

As I’ve often whined on this blog, an inability to keep my head in the game limits my success as a photographer.  For example, working on small stages taught me that I could use a wide angle lens to exaggerate depth, as in the photo above. Thus, I developed the habit of using wide-angle lenses for theater publicity.  But as you’ll see in the images below, visual perspective alters relationships, and more depth is not always the goal.

The director wanted an image of the woman in the background "looming" over the woman in the foreground. In reality, the two are very close together, but the wide angle lens makes them seem very far apart. Compare this with the image below.

Photographer, stage manager, and sometime pirate Ashley Holman snapped this from the front row of the theater with a long lens while I was shooting from my position at the arm of the sofa. This illustrates how the longer lens (and corresponding longer working distance) compresses the scene. Here, the woman behind the sofa appears much more menacing as she lurks just inches behind the woman reading her bible. Ashley's photo showed me that with some hard light and a long lens, I could have made a very compelling, very sinister image.

I hope you can see that the different perspectives in these two images create a very different mood. There’s a lot more to lens choice than field of view, because working distance influences perspective, with longer lenses/distances compressing the scene while shorter lenses/distances expand it. Until I learn to see this in my mind, I must remember to experiment with different lenses on scene.

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Filed under Camera Gear, Composition, Dance and Theater

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