Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
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RoelHendrickx Forum Pro • Posts: 24,428
Interesting... - I did the same in a LANDSCAPE setting

This is an interesting exercize, but the effects you show are fairly limited (note : I use "limited" not in a derogatory way, but more like an indication of the controlled state of your experiment).

There is some distortion on the face in the wider focal lengths (slightly elongated face, but well controlled, because your angle of view is good : this would be more obvious if you shot from higher to low or from lower to high).  Starting from 25mm, there is not really that much difference anymore between the shots.

That is the fact, IMHO, because you placed your model close to a neutral background.

The differences in view would be more spectacular, if you placed your model in a wide-open landscape setting (or even in a garden or room with a bit more space between him and the background) : then we would see the longer FL shots evolve from still environmental until a shot where the face is isolated against blurred and compressed neutrality.

While hiking the Libyan desert, I did a similar little test, when I was explaining to our guide Rhyssa (who became my test subject) the effect of focal length on perspective.

In that case, I was not aiming to show distortions on a body or face, but rather the relationship between a person and his surroundings.  This is relevant for portrait photographers who do not necessarily want to isolate the subject, but rather show it in his environment (and decide how much of that environment should be shown).

I used 4 focal lengths (using two lenses), trying to keep the person roughly the same size in the frame (but handheld and without calculating : this was on the fly in a few minutes), in order to show how dramatically the background would change.

Obviously the effects will be different depending on the kind of environment and the distance from the subject to the nearest objects : it works differently in a living room than in a mountainrange.

It is another test obviously - yours shows me that the face (portrait) itself is not influenced dramatically by focal lengths above 25mm (50 mm EFL).  Thank you for that.

Just for the heck of it (not meaning to hijack your thread), here is my series of four:

(If for some reason the photos do not show up as embedded - it happens sometimes - click on the space with the little red cross and you should see them...)

FL of 14mm:

FL of 54 mm:

FL of 104mm:

FL of 200 mm:

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Roel Hendrickx
lots of images:
my E-3 user field report from Tunisian Sahara:

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