Project 1 The distorting lens

Exercise 2.3

Choose a subject in front of a background with depth. Select your shortest focal length and take a close low viewpoint, below your subject. Find a natural point of focus and take the shot.

You’ll see that a very wide lens together with a close viewpoint creates extreme perspective distortion. Gently receding lines become extreme diagonals and rounded forms bulge towards the camera. Space appears to expand. The low viewpoint adds a sense of monumentality, making the subject seem larger than it is, and tilting the camera adds to the effect as vertical lines dramatically converge. Not the ideal combination for a portrait shot!

_MG_4333 enh       _MG_4430 enh

These images were taken with my telephoto 16-300mm, at its shortest focal length. The perspective distortion that it produces is obvious. The lines next to the boat and the cone in particular show distortion in the background.

I have often used this technique when photographing hulls of boats as I like the way that the form then bulges towards the camera.

_MG_2966 enh

I use this technique when I want to emphasise the size of an object such as these super yachts’ at the Boat Show. On reviewing other images shot in this way, I find that I generally shoot without lines in the background, probably using my instinct to avoid the distortion of background lines.

_MG_3929 enh

I also include this “snap” I took on my I phone a few days ago of a particularly humungous hot chocolate. I remember deliberately using the low shooting technique to emphasis the size of the object and my subject also remarked when I shared it with her that I had “cheated” and had made it look bigger.

IMG_1280 i phone enh

I guess the learning points are that it is a useful technique should you want to distort a subject but to be aware of its limitations, he effect on the background in particular, and yes its definitely not a technique to use for portraits!