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LEARN HOW TO USE PERSPECTIVE EFFECTS TO ADD THE WOW FACTOR TO LANDSCAPES
IT’S OFTEN SAID that perspective changes with focal length, but technically, this is untrue – it is the distance between the camera and the subject that determines perspective. However, to keep a subject the same size in the frame with a telephoto and a wide angle, you need to change distance from the subject, thus changing the perspective.
In practice, this means we use wide angles to enhance linear perspective – get in close to foreground objects and everything behind will appear to stretch away into the distance, creating a sense of depth. On the other hand, by shooting from further away with a telephoto, the apparent distance between the foreground and background will be reduced, creating a flatter perspective. This is sometimes called the ‘stacking’ effect.
Matching the right approach to the scene is the key to creating impact with perspective. Coastal scenes with strong foreground interest are a natural fit for enhanced depth using wide angles, whereas the rolling hills of rural scenes or the overlapping forms of mountain ranges are more suited to the stacking effect of longer lenses.
This is not a hard and fast rule and there are plenty of other options. On the coast, for example, longer focal lengths can be used to enhance the layering distant headlands or to make it look as if waves are stacked on top of each other. In rural scenes, there is often foreground interest in the form of wild flowers, dry stone walls and so on.
The trick is to be able to study and assess scenes. Ask yourself the following questions: Is there natural foreground interest, which leads the eye into the frame and which links well with the background? Would the scene gain from enhanced depth or would key focal points lose their impact? Is there a natural layering in the scene, which could be enhanced by the use of a telephoto? Are there patterns in the landscape that could be highlighted? If so, consider a longer focal length. Often, a scene will lend itself to more than one treatment, so you should also be prepared to experiment.
This is a satisfying wide-angle scene: it’s harmonious, balanced and also creates depth by successfully leading the eye through to the background
Getting in close to foreground interest with a wide-angle lens makes the foreground loom large while the background recedes, creating an impression of depth