Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
G1Houston
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Shorter fl can produce perspective distortion if not careful.
In reply to Anders W, Apr 10, 2013

Anders W wrote:

One additional consideration on top of those already mentioned: One of several reasons why longer FLs (45 up) are preferred to shorter (25 down) for head-and-should portraits is that the shorter FLs will give rise to perspective distortion (compared to how we usually see things with our naked eyes) of the face, exaggerating the size of proximate features (e.g., the nose) compared to more distant ones (e.g., the eyes and ears). By having the model turn his face to the side, you reduce the importance of that element. So have the model turn his face to the camera next time.

Totally agree.  Those that were shot with shorter fl (<25mm), the mid section of the face bulges out slightly.  It is not too objectionable since he is sitting slightly sideway and the camera was probably held properly to reduce this, and for most viewers, unless we compare this shot to those using much longer fl, we may not even notice this and think that this IS how he looks.

However, there is really no good reason to use a WA lens for head and shoulder shot.  A WA lens is much effective for environmental portrait in which a person is photographed to include as much of the surrounding as possible to tell a story.  We see this a lot in PJ, and this is a good way to take pictures during traveling so people can see where we have been.  Photographing people does not just mean making head shots.

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