Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
Dheorl Veteran Member • Posts: 4,107
Re: Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Sergey Borachev wrote:

Ha ha, I think a few people are either a bit insensitive and cannot detect the distortion in the face so well or they simply missed the point of this exercise - that is to see how good the facial features look, and not how the photo looks in terms of colour saturation, resolution, or any other measurements.  Many got it, and it is not that hard if they can compare directly the first and the last photo side by side and see which photo make the man better looking.

This is a good series of photos but they could be better.  If you had used a more direct frontal pose, the man's nose would be closer to the lens and get bigger and more distorted even more than the chin, ears etc at close range.  If you had a lady model instead, people might look for what you are trying to show easier, when they then would tend to look at how good she looks.  If you had taken a really tight close-up, like filling the frame starting from the hairline (just a little hair) on top and only go to the chin, which I like to do,  it would show the distortion more clearly, or the difference.  The human face (round with things sticking out) is flattered with a perspective of a picture taken at a longer distance, at least 5 ft for acceptable result, and that means a 100mm lens or more if you fill the whole frame with a tight head shot.

Even with this series, it should be clear that the man looks better in the last two photos.  For many portraits and head shots, the purpose is to get the subject looking their best.  I know some people do not see the distortion much, but they should be able to tell and select the photo when the person looks better.

Just clarifying what I meant, by 100mm lens above, I meant a lens with 100mm equivalent FOV, or about 50mm for M43.

I don't think it matters if OP chooses a different background, of if there is more or less blurred background.  I think the exercise is to not exactly to test whether you can tell which FL was used.  Look at the person, like a paying portrait client.  There may be just a slight differeence after a certain FL, but every little bit helps as the objective is to get the person to look his/her best.  It could make a difference when it matters. It takes a good eye to see the difference, but most people can tell whether they like one picture more than another even though it is not apparent that it's due to distortion.  Of course if it shooting a funny character, a very old and wrinkled face or movie villain character, or other non-glamour type of photo, special effects, then it is different.  Pretty basic stuff, actually.

It's not as to whether you have a "good eye" or not that you see the difference. Also as I said in reply to someone else not everyone always thinks less distorted is better. I personally think photos that are too flat can often look horrible, especially at this angle. The later ones don't do it for me at all.

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