For this exercise I initially used my 55-210mm lens (cropped sensor) and decided to use the specific focal lengths indicated on the lens barrel. I chose aperture F13 for a deep depth of field and auto-focused about half way into the distance. To ensure my viewpoint position was maintained throughout, I used a tripod. The shutter was slow so the use of a tripod also helped with avoiding camera shake.
Although I am now trying not to rely on this lens so much, I felt that it best suited this exercise because the range of focal lengths would provide a better analysis. However, in hindsight and in reviewing my images, I realised that I had made a mistake. From my standing position I could, in reality, see much more than the widest of my initial images (the 55mm end of my lens is equivalent to 82mm on a full frame camera and is therefore really a telephoto), so I had failed to take an image that resembles the range of view of the human eye. I decided, therefore, to re-visit this exercise by returning to my location to take further images using my wider (16-50mm) lens.
I will show my second set of images first for coherence, since my image-set as a whole suggests a sense of moving through the scene when viewed from the widest angle to the narrowest.
16mm (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera)
This angle of view is wider then my eyes could see. The stone wall on the right, and the post to the left were at the margins of my vision in reality, and blurred. However, this lens captures a much wider view. In terms of perspective, this image makes the path and the distance from my camera to the arch, appear longer than it was in reality. Wide angle lenses lengthen the perspective, making the distance from front to back within an image seem longer. This is the Jpeg version of this image, and my camera has corrected much of the distortion created as a consequence of the wide angle. The raw image, however, shows considerable bending of the vertical lines, particularly seen in the post of the road sign, and a rounding of the image towards the front.
33mm (equivalent to 50mm on a full frame camera)
This angle of view is more like my experience of the actual view in terms of its perspective. The arch is now more in line with my perception of it in terms of distance from my camera. In terms of angle of view, this image is perhaps closest of all my images to the angle of view of my eyes. However, although I couldn’t see all of what is visible in my first image, I feel that I could see a bit more than in this one. I could see more of the stone wall and the post (which is not visible at all here) albeit not in focus.
Below are my images from my first attempt at this exercise, using my 55 – 210mm lens:
55mm (equivalent to 82mm on a full frame camera)
At this length, the lens is a short telephoto, and the effect is to bring the scene closer. The arch appears closer to the camera than it was in real life and I also notice that the path is beginning to appear shorter: in reality, this was a longer walk than it seems here.
69mm (equivalent to 103m on a full frame camera)
At a longer telephoto, the foreground becomes closer and more prominent. The perspective is shortened further, bringing the end of the path nearer to the beginning.
104mm (equivalent to 156mm on a full frame camera)
In this image, it appears that the viewer is actually walking through the arch. The path is further shortened by the compressing of the perspective by the long lens.
136mm (equivalent to 204mm on a full frame camera)
Here, the arch has all but disappeared and the walk along the path seems very short indeed. The perspective has been ‘squashed’ and it now bears little resemblance to what I actually saw.
210mm (equivalent to 315mm on a full frame camera)
This final image is at the longest end of my telephoto, with a strong zoom effect. I have unfortunately not maintained focus in the foreground. However, it is clear that this image is a distorted view of what my eyes saw since it is now hugely compressed from front to back. I feel that I could walk the length of the path in a couple of strides.
I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise, and my tutor’s comments on my Square Mile assignment make even more sense to me now. By really thinking about and properly looking at what I could see, and by considering the effect of different focal lengths on my images in a way that I haven’t really done before, I feel that now, I will be able to take a far more considered approach to my choice of lens and what I actually want my photographs to look like.