Alter your perspective
Here’s a simple way to help you get to grips with how to change the perspective of your shots
For this example we used a tree and a glasshouse as the subjects, but you can try it yourself with any type of subject. You’ll need at least two subjects, one in the foreground and one in the background, and plenty of space in front of them. Ideally this area will allow you to stand at three distances from your subjects to get a good range of perspectives – being able to move from a couple of metres from the foreground to around 100 metres is ideal.
01 A normal perspective
Our eyes don’t have a zoom facility, so if you stand too far away everything will look tiny; stand too close and you’ll have to move your head to take in the scene. To get a ‘normal’ perspective, find a viewpoint where both objects fill your field of vision without having to turn your head.
02 Standard focal length
To frame most subjects at a distance that will give you this ‘normal’-looking perspective, use a focal length of 35-50mm on a full-frame camera, or 24-35mm on a DX model. On a standard zoom lens you will find that this focal length is around the middle of the zoom range.
03 Exaggerate perspective
To make the foreground subject appear much larger and the background features appear much smaller, you need to move close to the foreground. This works because you are changing the relative distances between you and the different parts of the scene.
04 Use a wide-angle lens
Because you are closer to the foreground, you’ll have to use a wide-angle lens to fit it all in. The focal length needed will depend on the size of the foreground subject, and how close you are to it. If you are really close, or the subject is large, you’ll need a very wide lens.
05 Compressing perspective
To make the foreground and background appear closer together, shoot from further away. The greater the distance, the more ‘compressed’ the perspective will be. Here, we were 100 metres from the tree – the furthest distance that still gave us a clear view of both subjects.
06 Use a telephoto lens
Because you are further away both the foreground and background will appear to be smaller, so you need to use a longer focal length lens. We used a 75mm lens, as we were 100 metres from the tree, but at greater distances you would need to use a focal length such as 100-200mm.