Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Started Apr 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
OP richj20 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,908
Re: Photographing a Person: A test of focal lengths

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! They are very informative and revealing. It was not surprising to me that there were differences of opinion about the photographs! And that some didn't see much variance between them!
A few other thoughts:

  • In my other thread, Lindsay D, a professional photographer, wrote, "There are a number of factors which govern the suitability of lenses for people photography." And in this thread, G1Houston elaborates on this in his post All lenses can be used to photograph people, but. This says to me that while rules and formulas are fine, photographers choose their equipment according to the needs at the moment.
  • Some had suggestions for a different methodology. I hope you will be inspired to do a test yourself! I chose to change position to keep the same framing. I like Fredrik Glckner's idea of using a statue to insure the same head position throughout the test!
  • Some wished I had used a straight-on pose, and several referenced some tests where this was done. It maximizes the distortion, of course, but I already know that. For me, the slightly side view minimizes it and makes more useful the focal lengths outside the normally accepted ones.
  • Also, the straight-on view is the least attractive one to me. I do use it, as with this little cutie who wanted her photograph for the bulletin board in the activities building on the Ranch where I was staying over Easter:

And this one of a Ranch mechanic who wanted a sort of tough-guy look for a mug shot:

(Since many have pointed out differences in my test photographs, I imagine you will be able to tell what the focal lengths are in these two)

  • And this from a post by G1Houston: "However, there is really no good reason to use a WA lens for head and shoulder shot." Well, what if that is the lens I have mounted at the moment and it's not convenient to switch lenses? Consider the following photograph, which I posted in another thread. I was photographing in the courtyard and plaza of our historic Spanish Mission Inn. I was using my Panasonic 7-14mm lens because of the close confinement. I struck up a conversation with a tourist. We admired each other's hats, so we each took a quick snap. I knew from experience that @14mm (=28mm) I could back away 4 or 5 feet and later crop for a head and shoulder shot. So, I stepped back and moved a bit to the side and clicked. I think it works:

14mm (=28mm)

Another one:

This brings up the distance factor. If I back away and later crop, the wide angle effect is reduced. Many probably know this.

KLO82 shows another example of the distance factor in his post here:

Again, thanks for all of the comments. It's been very informative.

Best of success to all in photographing people!

- Richard

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"Careful photographers run their own tests." - Fred Picker

 richj20's gear list:richj20's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Panasonic Leica 100-400mm F4.0-6.3 ASPH Panasonic FZ1000 Sony Alpha a7R II
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