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Mini Mentorship – Assignment one, Perspective.

<My Mini-Mentorship>

I must confess, I have struggled with this assignment a bit, like most amateurs I have fallen in to the trap of wide angle equals more of a view and telephoto equals more reach. While true, it misses the point. The different perspectives bring with them a balance between the foreground and background. You should use the perspective to illustrate the story of your image.

Wide Angle

Wide angle lenses bring a powerful perspective to the image, dominant foreground subjects and compressed backgrounds. Objects just a few feet away become compressed, deemphasize and pushed against the background. Wide angle lenses tend to create more space between objects, making them disjointed. A strong subject is needed to pull all of the elements together into a concise image. 

While a theme was not required I decided to go with “playing”. As always, click the image for a larger view, or select the exif data to see it.

So, as part of an ongoing tutorial process hosted by Ming Thein | mingthein.com

For my wide angle shot, I present :

At Play

At Play

D800, Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8
exif : @14mm 1/2000th Sec, f/5, ISO 800

My Justification: Strong foreground element (child), where the mother, although not far behind, is pressed into the background of the park. The wide angle was selected for this reason, deemphasizing the parent figure. Creates the juxtapositions of large child – small parent, explosive fun (child) – stoic presence (parent), almost as if the large park can not contain the child.

Okay, here goes. Overall, a good stab at both; the wide-angle one is the weaker of the two (and did you get some new gear? ;) . I’ll start there.

Wide angle:

The wider you go, the more exaggerated your perspective is going to be. This means that you have to get increasingly close to your subject, which is probably quite dangerous with a kid on a swing at 14mm! It also means you’ve got to watch your background more: the reason being that more of it is going to be included given your angle of view. The subject could be more emphasized here, which means either getting even closer, or using something less wide – 24mm would probably have worked fine, too. The other two things you have to be careful of are horizons and verticals when using a wide: if either is off, something doesn’t look right to the human eye because our expected perspective is about 20mm with two eyes open, and scanning the scene, or closer to 60mm when focusing our gaze on something. In this case, the horizon is mostly fine, but you’ve placed it higher in the frame than the centerline, which means verticals are going to be top heavy and bowed outwards – look at the swing frame. I like the positioning of the woman in the background (your wife?) to add context to the picture.

However, the biggest improvement opportunity here by far is the empty space: there’s acres of it in the foreground, which is compounded by an overly heavy background (detail in the trees) which also feels truncated (chopped off tree tops). Angling the camera up a little – perhaps 5-10 degrees – would have helped immensely. I’m guessing this was the peak of his swing, so for the purposes of this exercise, we’ll assume your timing is okay (but it’s something we’ll work on later). I think we’ll also need to spend some time on light and processing.

Telephoto Angle

On the other end of the Perspective range is the telephoto lens. The background objects maintain a prominence in the image, the background/foreground tend to flatten out. 

For my telephoto shot, I present:

Strike!

Strike!

D800, Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8
exif : @200mm 1/4000th Sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

My Justification: I picked the background object (pitcher) to be the subject of the image. I actually took the shot through a chain link fence and used f/2.8 to defocus the links and blur the foreground. This lens allows the background object to maintain its prominence as the subject even though he is 60 feet away from the foreground elements.

Telephoto:

This was definitely the stronger of the two images. Although we generally use wide angles to give context to the subject because of the way they include the background, the same thing can be accomplished with telephotos; in this case, I’m not sure what you’re trying to say with the factories. The foreground is good, because there’s enough context to make out what’s going on. The main two things you need to watch with telephotos are a) things getting between you and your subject and b) critical focus. For a), the bowler’s hand is cut off, and so are his feet; my suggestion here would be to catch him at the top of his throw just as he releases the ball – this would also have let his ‘shape’ fill the space between the batter, the dark bit of building at top right, and the catcher in the foreground. For b), it appears critical focus is on the edge of his throwing arm sleeve instead of the face or the ball; the ball is nearly impossible to catch, so in this case my suggestion would be to nail his face instead.

All in all, I’d actually have shifted the whole camera left and down a bit; it seems you fell into the center focusing point trap here. By moving the camera in that way, you’d have been able to include all of the bat in the frame, plus his leg; and excluded that boring dark bit of factory at top right that really doesn’t add anything to the image. Timing issues would have taken care of the arm positioning as mentioned previously – perhaps it might be worthwhile spending a little time here, too.

I’m sure you know this already, but when shooting moving objects, you should be using AF-C; beforehand, make sure you’ve run an AF fine-tune check on your lenses to ensure that the camera actually focuses on what you want it to – this is especially important with the D800 (which I see you’re now using) because the higher pixel density is far less forgiving.

All in all: good effort. I’m seeing improvement from the first set you sent me, but we’ve still got some distance to go yet.

A zip file of the two images for submission to Ming Thein

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I really noticed it until Assignment two started. My mentor, Ming Thein, pointed out after my first photography assignment – perspectives and also in my top ten list that I need to start watching my [...]

  2. [...] Is it the statue? The Skyline? The Grass? The People? This image could have clearly used help from lesson one, perspectives. Uggh, horrible image. This is what we want to look for in step [...]

  3. [...] The Full Course – US$800 The price for this is a one-off fee of US$800. Not a whole load of money if you think about it – at $80 per lesson – especially relative to the thousands of dollars that a decent camera and lenses costs; that buys you only potential, but not know-how. And this is one-on-one, personalized tuition. The reason I’m offering this is because I didn’t have anybody to go to to learn about the things I wanted to shoot when I was starting out, but I’d gladly have paid or enrolled in a school to learn – except there weren’t any. You don’t have to be in Kuala Lumpur to take part (but it would help) – everything can be done over email. To give you an example, have a look at the past reader critiques here, here and here for an idea; one of my students has been kind enough to repost the entire live process on his site here. [...]

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