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  1. #31
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old-N-Feeble View Post
    I disagree that wide-angle distortion is only noticeable if prints are viewed from too far away. Our minds are very aware that the print is flat so any wide-angle distortions are very noticeable regardless of viewing distance. Even if viewed very closely wide-angle distortion is quite plain to see because, again, our minds know the image is planar. Whether or not any type of distortion is acceptable or preferable is up to the viewer.
    All I can say is try it. It's a 3D geometry thing.

    If you are viewing the subject matter at all the same angles the camera did, things look pretty normal. That angular relationship is determined by print to viewer distance.

    I have 24x36 inch print of a cannon with St. Charles cathedral in the back ground shot very wide. All kinds of lines and angles.

    At say 4' the "distortion" is apparent, at 18" to 24" it's gone.

    Took this shoot to the local camera club and showed them the change in effect and everybody saw the difference when they got close.

    I will say that small prints don't do this effect justice IMO.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  2. #32

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    hi david

    i don't have much to add to your thread, except
    use what ever focal length feels right to you.
    i shot for a long while for a newspaper head shots
    environmental portraits, pretty much everything you can think of ..
    and i just used what i had handy. sometimes it was a 28, sometimes it was a 50
    sometimes it was a 100 ( even a 135 )... whatever worked ... there was no steadfast rule ..
    just general "tips" for positioning good v. bad side general "stuff" i learned
    as an apprentice to a portrait photographer a few years earlier.
    rules of composition are different now than they were 40 or 50 years ago
    for headshots at least, you can cut heads and necks and chins off and no one will say much ... so do what
    you like, and if you are doing it for a client or $$ or whatever ... make sure
    they like it too

    good luck !
    john
    ask me how ..

  3. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post
    All I can say is try it. It's a 3D geometry thing.

    If you are viewing the subject matter at all the same angles the camera did, things look pretty normal. That angular relationship is determined by print to viewer distance.

    I have 24x36 inch print of a cannon with St. Charles cathedral in the back ground shot very wide. All kinds of lines and angles.

    At say 4' the "distortion" is apparent, at 18" to 24" it's gone.

    Took this shoot to the local camera club and showed them the change in effect and everybody saw the difference when they got close.

    I will say that small prints don't do this effect justice IMO.
    That's only true to a degree and it's far from infallible. Too, as you already pointed out, this really only works with large prints. Who's going to view an 8x10 inch print from 5 inches away unless it's a photo of Heidi Klum in a bikini?

  4. #34

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    A few folks have mentioned environmental portraits. This type, and other images in which people are placed into an environment that must be shown, partially dictate lens focal length. Typically, wider lenses are chosen for this type of portraiture... sometimes very wide. As others pointed out, there is no right or wrong regarding focal length.

    But... the OP did offer quantifiers to his/her question and that is "minimizing distortion of facial features" at a particular subject cropping factor. As other pointed out, shooting distance controls compression distortion, and how much subject you want in the frame dictates focal length. Shooting angle and lighting add to the final result. The environment, intended effect/message, and facial expression all make a difference on how much distortion you might want. Also, as others pointed out, compression distortion is decreasingly apparent as focal length increases. The bottom line is I follow my previously posted rules-of-thumb loosely but they work very well "for me" given the OP's specific requirements.
    Last edited by Old-N-Feeble; 12-11-2012 at 09:32 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by markbarendt View Post

    Wide angle shots only look distorted when viewed from to far away or put another way printed too small for the intended viewing distance.
    OK I noticed a reference to this and I had to look back a few pages to find out for sure if someone had actually said this.
    I cannot disagree more. The print is flat. Changing the viewing distance of the print cannot change the proportions on the print.

    My nose would still be 80% the width of my face, no matter how near or far the print was. Nor what angle it was viewed at. Trust me, I've tried
    Or perhaps it may be possible that my nose would actually be appear larger if I put my real nose right up to the print.
    But this would be the opposite effect of what you were trying to describe.
    Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both yes and no.

  6. #36
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by darinwc View Post
    OK I noticed a reference to this and I had to look back a few pages to find out for sure if someone had actually said this.
    I cannot disagree more. The print is flat. Changing the viewing distance of the print cannot change the proportions on the print.

    My nose would still be 80% the width of my face, no matter how near or far the print was. Nor what angle it was viewed at. Trust me, I've tried
    Or perhaps it may be possible that my nose would actually be appear larger if I put my real nose right up to the print.
    But this would be the opposite effect of what you were trying to describe.
    All I can suggest is trying it, as I described earlier.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  7. #37

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    As far as I know, if you view an image at the same distance it was taken, the perspective will appear similar. I could be wrong, and I also think the brain perceives perspective in a print different from real life.

    If you were to photograph someone with a 35mm lens at 1 meter, you would have to view the resulting image at the same distance?

  8. #38
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeTime View Post
    As far as I know, if you view an image at the same distance it was taken, the perspective will appear similar. I could be wrong, and I also think the brain perceives perspective in a print different from real life.

    If you were to photograph someone with a 35mm lens at 1 meter, you would have to view the resulting image at the same distance?
    Incorrect. A 35mm lens on a 35mm camera has a different 'angle of view' compared to the human eye. With a 50mm lens you are roughly correct.

    As others have pointed out, it is a matter of taste what is 'correct' and what isn't. Personally, I favor slightly wide to normal lenses for portraiture, mainly because I get closer to the subject, which makes it a more intimate experience. I'm convinced this changes how the images result, because of the intimacy and the reactions it provokes. I also like the much different perspective and view that results from shorter focal length objectives; again, a matter of taste and a preference for a certain way of working.
    But in a situation when I wouldn't want to be close to the subject, for whatever reason, I would compromise and use a longer lens obviously. It could be that the sitter finds it difficult to work with me so close, for example.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  9. #39
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    If you were to photograph someone with a 35mm lens at 1 meter, you would have to view the resulting image at the same distance?
    I think the argument people are making is that, the perspective would look natural IF: You printed the image lifesize (meaning the actual width of the head ON the image was the same as the width of the person's head), AND you viewed it from the same distance the camera was away from the subject when the image was taken.

    Since it's unlikely that you would view such a large print from such a close distance, perspective would be perceived as unnatural.
    f/22 and be there.

  10. #40
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    Yes, Thomas Bertilsson, your choice of moving closer and using short lenses is YOUR decision, having to do with YOUR sense of the aesthetic, in the immediate situation. This is refreshing to hear and attenuates the definitiveness of the 'standard' rule regarding proper focal length.

    I want to say that I never could understand that the 'normal' focal length, however, should be the diagonal of the full 35mm frame: i.e., 43mm. I have found the Helios 2/58 to match more exactly what the eye really sees. (Using that lens for portraiture is, however, a matter not related to that assessment of 'normal'). - David Lyga



 

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