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  1. #71
    Slixtiesix's Avatar
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    I completely disagree with Mr. Bills theory for the following reason: If you have a wide-angle group shot where people standing near the edges of the frame look distorted, then this distortion plus the distortion caused by the print viewing distance will add to each other. It is like with the circles. If a large sheet of paper with several round circles painted on will be viewed from close distance, the circles toward the edges will look oval-shaped. Right. If a group of people is photographed with, let´s say 70mm, distortion free lens, everyone should look natural shaped when the print is viewed from distance but if you come closer, people toward the edges will look more distorted from the center perspective. If the print is already distorted because it was taken with a wide angle lens, they will even look more distorted. Logically, there can never be a point when both wide-angle and viewing-angle produced distortion can neutralize each other. Distortion will always be amplified. So the whole theory is a contradiction in itself!

  2. #72

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    My explanation was largely in response to your post #61,
    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    My point was that the angle of view in the photograph is irrelevant to the angle of view of the viewer.
    I think I explained clearly how these angles CAN BE relevant. Rather than say, "Oh, so it CAN make a difference," you counter with, what if the viewer stands to the left or right? Well, ok...occasionally there are art and museum exhibits where the viewer's sight is restricted to a peephole, where the "realism" of the image is somewhat astounding.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    Forgive me for typing this, but that is an absolutely absurd thing to be concerned about.
    Yes, you are forgiven provided you also forgive me for saying that I feel like the person who tried to teach the pig to sing. Hopefully others will reach some sort of understanding on the well-known issue of proper viewing distance.

  3. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slixtiesix View Post
    I completely disagree with Mr. Bills theory for the following reason: If you have a wide-angle group shot where people standing near the edges of the frame look distorted, then this distortion plus the distortion caused by the print viewing distance will add to each other.
    Hi, not so! First, the "theory" is supported by actual viewing of prints. When the wide angle photo of a group has apparent distortion, the heads near the outer perimeters become elongated away from the center. (This is due to the lens projection effectively striking a tilted-away surface.)

    When a final print is viewed from a substantial distance, that elongation (away from center) is obvious. But as the viewing distance gets closer, the outer edges of the print are seen at steeper angles, and the original elongation becomes visually compressed. At the exactly correct viewing distance, the heads will visually become correct.

    I now understand more clearly why Mark kept saying "Just try it."

    Quote Originally Posted by Slixtiesix View Post
    If a group of people is photographed with, let´s say 70mm, distortion free lens, everyone should look natural shaped when the print is viewed from distance but if you come closer, people toward the edges will look more distorted from the center perspective.
    Yes, I concur. Certainly this will happen as a result of the print being viewed from too close (relative to the original lens used).

    If the print is already distorted because it was taken with a wide angle lens, they will even look more distorted.
    Not so - the distortions are in opposite directions, they will cancel each other out.

  4. #74

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    It appears that some think this idea of a "proper viewing distance" for prints, and that the "apparent wide angle effect" is some half-baked idea. So I'm going to put in a few literature references for those who might have them.

    Basic Photographic Processes and Materials (Stroebel, Compton, Current, and Zakia, 1990) - page 150, "The Wide Angle Effect"

    Applied Photographic Optics (S. Ray, 3rd Edition 1992) - Chapter 23, "Perspective and projection", see 23.1.3 "Viewing distance" and 23.1.4 "Perspective distortions."

    View Camera Technique (Stroebel, 5th edition 1986) - section 7.13 "Apparent Perspective Effects: Viewing Distance"

    Controls in Black and White Photography (Henry, 2nd edition 1988) - p.235 "Proper Viewing Distance of Prints."

    Enlarging (Jacobson and Mannheim, 20th edition 1969) - p.28 "The Problem of Correct Perspective," followed by "The Optimum Degree of Enlargement," and "Practical Magnification Problems."

    The last, Jacobson, has perhaps the most "readable" discussion; here's an excerpt:
    We simply have to accept that we cannot achieve the realism of correct perspective with telephoto views. Fortunately this matters less in practice than might seem...
    ...
    By similar arguments we can say that most people tend to look at wide angle pictures from too far away, or not enlarge the negatives sufficiently. That then leads to the exaggerated wide-angle perspective already mentioned. This is curable by simpling adjusting the magnification and final print size to the appropriate relationship for correct perspective. It incidentally also leads to a new way of looking at photographs: owing to the increased angle of view which the photograph subtends at the eye we can no longer take it in at one glance. The eye has to roam over the image - much as we scan a real scene in front of us.

    This indeed greatly increases the realism of an enlargement from a wide-angle view. It is the reasoning behind wide-screen motion picture projection... This realism of perspective becomes equally impressive with giant enlargements of negatives taken with a wide-angle lens and used, for instance, as photo murals.
    ps: in the event anyone wants to perform their own test - DO NOT use circles drawn on paper; this will not show the effect. (The wide lens sees the circles in a foreshortened manner, but the lens projection elongates them onto the film, cancelling the effect.) Only 3-D objects, such as people, or ping-pong/tennis balls, etc, will show the effect.
    Last edited by Mr Bill; 12-17-2012 at 03:43 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bill View Post
    It appears that some think this idea of a "proper viewing distance" for prints, and that the "apparent wide angle effect" is some half-baked idea. So I'm going to put in a few literature references for those who might have them.

    Basic Photographic Processes and Materials (Stroebel, Compton, Current, and Zakia, 1990) - page 150, "The Wide Angle Effect"

    Applied Photographic Optics (S. Ray, 3rd Edition 1992) - Chapter 23, "Perspective and projection", see 23.1.3 "Viewing distance" and 23.1.4 "Perspective distortions."

    View Camera Technique (Stroebel, 5th edition 1986) - section 7.13 "Apparent Perspective Effects: Viewing Distance"

    Controls in Black and White Photography (Henry, 2nd edition 1988) - p.235 "Proper Viewing Distance of Prints."

    Enlarging (Jacobson and Mannheim, 20th edition 1969) - p.28 "The Problem of Correct Perspective," followed by "The Optimum Degree of Enlargement," and "Practical Magnification Problems."

    The last, Jacobson, has perhaps the most "readable" discussion; here's an excerpt:


    Another place where one can see the viewing angle on 2D surface effect is the turn lane arrows on the highway. They look right when you are in that lane.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

  6. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Bill View Post
    Yes, you are forgiven provided you also forgive me for saying that I feel like the person who tried to teach the pig to sing. Hopefully others will reach some sort of understanding on the well-known issue of proper viewing distance.
    Well known and useful are two different things. Is it true? I would not deny it. Is it worth worrying about, let alone practical or worthwhile to somehow implement or enforce? I would not say so. It is one of the silliest things to consider in displaying a print I've ever heard of. Stand so close that you cannot comfortably view the entire print at once to cancel out wide angle distortions? We have to treat the photos as optical illusions now just because we can't come to terms with a flat image? Astonishing.

  7. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    Forgive me for typing this, but that is an absolutely absurd thing to be concerned about. What next? What if the viewer stands closer to the right side of the photo than to the left? Should we keystone the image to effectively correct the perspective for them? Nonsense. Much ado about nothing.
    Yashinoff, it is true that we can't control where the viewer stands, but when we understand what people normally do, and where they will normally try to be, then we can use that info to make prints that look good from there.

    One thing people generally seem to do is center themselves when actively viewing prints or paintings.

    As to much ado about nothing. Photographers worry a lot about things that viewers see as trivial or even irrelevant or simply don't care about, things like: grain, fiber versus RC paper, DD-X versus ID-11, T-Max versus Delta versus Acros, 35mm versus 4x5, Pictorialist versus f64...

    They don't need to know, it is helpful though when we do.
    Last edited by markbarendt; 12-17-2012 at 05:56 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

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

  8. #78

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    Well known and useful are two different things.
    I certainly agree with this. Useful? Yes, I think so. I think that perhaps you have never experienced the effect of "realness" in a photo, or if you have, did not realize what it was. Otherwise you wouldn't be saying this.

    I first experienced this at about the age of 11 or 12 years, sitting in a school classroom. I was bored silly, and happened to have a magnifying lens (for burning ants at recess, I guess). I used it to look at a small photo in my geography book, or whatever it was, and was surprised at how realistic it seemed (the photo was very non-descript at its normal size). I spent the rest of the class looking at all the photos in the book, and perhaps 1/3 had this efffect. The effect was incredible enough that I didn't forget it. You say, is it worth it? Well you can guess my answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yashinoff View Post
    Stand so close that you cannot comfortably view the entire print at once to cancel out wide angle distortions?
    Prints like this are enjoyable to stand close to while you look around the image; you feel as though you are in the scene. Should you stand very close to a large print and it is NOT enjoyable to scan around the print, you can feel comfortable that it was not a wide-angle shot.

    I am not suggesting that you have an exhibit, labeling each photo such as "Look at this image with one eye closed, from a distance of 23 inches and 4 inches to the left of center." What I WOULD suggest is this: if you exhibit two photos side-by-side, and one is with a "normal" lens and the other is with a wide-angle lens, then perhaps the normal-lens shot would be printed to 11x14 inches, while the wide-angle shot is printed to 16x20 inches. Or if you are commissioned to shoot a mural, you should shoot with the appropriate wide-angle lens.

    But all this talk is for naught if you're not ready to swallow the idea. I realize you don't know who I am - maybe I'm just some rummy or Internet know-it-all. That's why I gave some literature references. If you want to try the idea farther, I'd suggest go to a photo exhibit, if there are any in your area. (If not, magazines work, but you'd likely need a low power magnifier.) If there are any photos you like, try moving forward and back several feet to see if you can find a zone where there is a stronger sense of "realness," as though you are actually there. (The sense is stronger if the photos have some "depth cues" in them; plain jane portraits maybe not so much.) If you find that you can notice this, great, you should investigate the idea further. If you can't notice it, well I dunno. I've done this experiment with coworkers at photo trade shows which had exhibits. Most could notice the effect even if they didn't care (they're IT guys or the like), but there were one or two who didn't seem to be able to tell. Perhaps they could learn if they wanted to, perhaps they just don't care at all, I dunno.

  9. #79

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    So... we should only print ultra-wide-angle images very large and/or view them from very close-up. And only print images shot with ultra-long lenses postage-stamp size and/or view them from across the street. Got it.

  10. #80
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    We should not think in terms of photographic rules, but as a guide, as the context and subject often dictate the lens and distance we may use. Are we photographing a group of Russian clowns or members of the government (not much difference I know), But rules were made for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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