I know that I can see the flattening effect a long lens has when the print is viewed at 1:2 instead of its natural 1:4 for example it may have been taken at. The opposite is true for short lenses, a 1:1 shot viewed at 1:2 won't look "normal" to the viewer, it will appear to bulge in the middle.
Those seem to be relevant effects, and seem to be caused by the mis-match in the camera's and the viewer's angles of view.
What am I missing?
Why? Because 99.99 percent of all viewers are not aware of... nor do they care about... what distance the photographer intended them to view their photos. It's not about what you're "missing" in your photos. It's about not "connecting" with everyone else and "accepting" that they don't "analyze" perspective as you do. They see what they see and feel what they feel. In the grand scheme of things, this is all that matters.
Actually it's very simple. It's because a photograph is usually flat. Whatever angle of view was provided by the lens at the scene - the end result is still a 2 dimensional flat image.
If the image is very large, the viewer will tend to stand back from it, if it is very small they will move in very close. It is not dependent on the angle of view, if you use an ultrawide angle lens, but print very large, people are still going to stand back if they want to comfortably take in the whole scene. If you use a telephoto lens and print very small, people are going to move in closer. It's the size of the print really, not the angle of view.
I don't want to get mired down trying to explain how it works, but I will say that Mark Barendt has it exactly right, and he understands how it works (see his post #20 for a simple set of rules).
If you've ever seen a photo that seemed like you were right there - as though you could almost step right into the picture - well, Mark just revealed how to do it.
A handful of people maintain that the print is a 2-D surface, and different viewing distances cannot make a difference. The truth is that IT DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Let me give an example. If you draw some circles on a piece of paper, they ought to appear round. But if you tilt the paper, the circles will flatten into an oval shape - everyone agrees with this, right? Ok, now pretend that you have drawn a handful of circles on a very large sheet of paper. Viewing head-on, from a considerable distance, all appear round. But as you get very close to the paper, things change: the circles directly in front of your eye (line of sight = perpendicular to the paper) are still round, but circles near the far edges of the paper become very oval-shaped.
Forget about this for a moment, now, and consider what happens when someone photographs a large group with a wide-angle lens. The people near the outer edges get curiously-elongated heads, which seem to stretch out towards the outer edges of the print. In short, it has an obvious wide lens distortion. Mark Barendt has made the opinion that this distortion effect is a result of viewing the print from too far away.
So what happens if we view this print from a close distance (keeping centered)? Well, the heads near the center still have a proper shape. But the heads near the edges, which at first seemed elongated, have now flattened into proper shape. It IS exactly as Mark said it would be - the proper viewing distance (and position) makes the scene look natural.
As some have pointed out, most people don't really care where you want them to stand, or how far to view from. They want to look anyway they darn well feel like. Mark says that you can control this to some extent - if you hang photos behind your couch, they can't get within several feet of it; if you hang photos in a hallway, they can't get more than a couple feet away. So if you plan ahead, read post #20 and shoot appropriately. This will give the most realistic "you are there" effect on the photo.
These ideas are not new in photographic literature. Stroebel has a section in View Camera Technique (5th edition, section 7.13 Apparent Perspective Effects: Viewing Distance). In essence, viewing a print from "too close" weakens (compresses) the apparent perspective effect. But this is not usually too objectionable. But viewing a print from "too far" makes the apparent perspective too strong, which tends to be more objectionable. So the safest thing with portraits is probably to shoot from a longer distance, using a longer lens; this mostly removes the risk of "viewing from too far."
There's a lot more to portraits than just this, but I think what I've said above has a lot of application to landscapes (with some foreground) and some other general scenic photography.
That norm gives me a tool to use to control/manipulate how viewers, myself included, view the scene in print on the wall. It allows me to choose if they, or I, see normal or flattened or whatever perspective.
The flat medium also isn't the issue here.
When viewing a scene through your camera using most any lens designed to provide proper rectilinear perspective, the scene looks normal through the viewfinder. The scene does not look weird compared say the grid lines we see in the camera. (I'm assuming well corrected lenses here and I'm leaving out lens distortions, like barrel and pincushion, purposefully.)
The normal looking view seen in most cameras, is a projection on a flat surface, the focusing screen or ground glass.
The quote was excerpted from here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspec...ject_distance)Quote:
Photograph viewing distance
Photographs are ordinarily viewed at a distance approximately equal to their diagonal. When viewed at this distance, the distortion effects created by the angle of view of the capture are apparent. However, theoretically, if one views pictures exhibiting extension (wide angle) distortion at a closer distance, thus widening the angle of view of the presentation, then the phenomenon abates. Similarly, viewing pictures exhibiting compression (telephoto) distortion from a greater distance, thus narrowing the angle of view of the presentation, reduces the effect. In both cases, at some critical distance, the apparent distortion disappears completely.
Okay so here's an example from a local guy http://www.billproudphotography.com/pages/H212.htm Bill shot that on 4x5 Velvia, as I remember he said he used a 90mm lens.
The small sizes we can see on the Internet don't do ths "portrait" justice, the person centered in the arch is just so small that they gets missed. In person though, where the short edge of the print is in the 30-40" range that person draws you closer to the print, as does the natural angle of the shot. Viewed in person and closer than one might normally view a print that size it is incredible and starts filling the viewer's peripheral vision.