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Thread: what lens to use

  1. #1
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    what lens to use

    i was at an equine event recently and my daughter wanted a few pictures of her and her horse. i used my 7DII and 70-200 f4L @70mm-f4 . i think they came out alright but just wondering if you guys would have done it differently. i could have moved back and used 200mm or used my 24-105 and got closer .
    0V8A9626 by Stuart Edwards, on Flickr
    Stuart Edwards
    1DX Mark II , 1DIV , Samyang 14mm f2.8 ,Sigma 85mm f1.4A , 24-105mm f/4L IS , 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II , 400mm f/5.6L , EF 1.4x III , 430EX II

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    This is one of those topics that it has taken me awhile to fully understand. Hopefully I say this correctly, but if you are dealing with the same focal plane, and can "zoom with your feet" and focal length often doesn't really matter. The "perspective" from focal length comes into play when items are not in the same focal plane (foreground/background). For example, in this shot, the horses and girls are essentially in the same focal plane. You could have achieved essentially the same looking shot with a 100 mm focal length from 1x ft away or with a 200 mm focal length from 2x ft away. What would have changed is the relation of the horses and girls to something not in the same focal plane, such as the fence and background. The 100 mm focal length would show a "wider/more" background than the 200 mm. So, in most instances, focal length is either about not wanting/able to adjust your distance or it is about the subject relationship to the foreground and background of your subject.

    You can start to see perspective distortion, with the extreme example being at wide angles and short focal distances. But even comes into play with portraits, a lot of people find some "compression" of faces observed at >85 mm more flattering. So, in those circumstances, you can see a difference along the same/similar focal plane.

    Honestly, with this shot, I would have gotten "closer" wither with zoom or your feet, and taken a picture of the 4 heads together. I could see an image with the horses to the side, like they are now, or got all 4 heads to be lined up and facing you. That said, I like the shot as taken. The smiles and what looks like one horse nuzzling one of the girls, makes it.
    Last edited by Kayaker72; 06-30-2015 at 02:55 PM.

  3. #3
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    As a bit of a followup to Kayaker's post.

    ...but the focal length choice will affect the background. That's another plane in this image, so the focal length does matter.

    Go wide, and drop low, and you can perhaps remove the fence from the shot... but you may end up distorting the image in a way you don't find appealing.

    Go tele and you'll perhaps emphasize the fence. It will get bigger due to telephoto angle of view, and you'll be bringing it more into the frame as you shoot progressively flatter angles due to the increased distance... but the subjects may look better with a telephoto.

    As you go more tele, the background will blur more, despite the increased distance. You can see this in graph form here (howmuchblur.com) . This shows the blur (as percent of frame vs. distance past subject) you'd get framing a 5m subject with 24, 50, 100, and 200 mm f/2.8 lenses.

    So question becomes, can you go tele enough that the fence is blurred enough to not be distracting? Can you go wide enough that the fence is removed from view without ruining the shot due to low perspective and wide angle distortion? Personally, I prefer the tele look for anything with people in it.
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  4. #4
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    here are my two cents worth I would have gotten closer & used wider perspective. 2 reasons fence becomes much smaller background item. Preferably I would have elevated the camera position slightly. More help with background control. And everyone looks better when we arent looking up their nose. Even horses
    If you see me with a wrench, call 911

  5. #5
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    It's always hard to be your own critic especially when the subjects are near and dear to your heart. You say that the image came out alright but asking the question suggests you are looking for ways to improve. If you sit back and look at the photo what do you think you would like to change? Does the fence bother you, do you see enough of the people behind the horses, too much of the horses, or the low shooting height?

    Looking at the image I think your thoughts were to include the complete bodies of the horses and get down low to change where the fence goes through the image. There is nothing wrong with that result. The different surface in the foreground is reasonably well blurred but could easily be cropped out if you feel it is not contributing to the story behind the image.

    If you want to make it more about the people then having the horses backup just a little bit could help with showing more of them or moving in closer to change the cameras view of the spatial relations between people and horses might show more of the people. A tighter crop to make the faces bigger could also help with that. If you want to get some idea of what that would look like just try cropping in on one of the images you have. It won't change the perspective but will at least allow seeing more of the face and expressions for a point of comparison. Tightening in will also allow moving the camera higher again.

    At the end of the day it comes down to choosing to emphasize different things and how you go about it.No two photographers are likely to come away with identical images as there are so many options to choose from. The answers that each arrive at is a function of their own styles and ways of seeing. To better develop your own look at lots of images from different sources. What appeals to you, and the harder question of figuring out why, can be helpful when you are out in the field. Taking multiple images from different positions with different focal lengths and apertures will provide you with images of your own to ask the same two questions of as well as helping you come to a better understanding of your equipment and what an image will look like if you try this or that.

    Apologies if I seem to have gone off a bit into the deep end.

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