A focal-length case study

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Klorenzo, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I just wanted to share the mental process that got me to a specific picture. Not a special picture, but one where I was just able to get, almost, what I was looking for.

    I was riding in Cambodia, with a rented motorcycle, and this temple appeared on the side of the road:


    I'm still on the bike, considering if it is worth to stop or not. It's not an uncommon sight here, but the colors are nice:


    Here I decide to stop, get off the bike, remove the helmet and to try to get something. Probably I did not have much time so I remained on this side of the road:


    Ok, we can see something but not much of interest from here, so I try to add the motorbike:


    Mmm, ok, a little better, but now the statue is small, let's try again:


    No, it just doesn't work. And here I realize that I want the statue to be bigger. So I just zoom all in and move backward until the motorbike is the same size as in the first pictures:


    Oh, this makes sense. Let's stop down a little to get more background:


    Ok, good enough, we can go. At the end I choose the f5 shot.

    You can notice that the bike has the size that I was looking for at 21mm and the size of the statue is almost the same of the fourth picture at 40mm. How is this possible? I moved back two or three meters and zoomed all in. It made not much difference on the statue, being big and far, but made a lot on the motorbike size. I "zoomed" the background only.

    Nothing new here, the famous "compression" effect of telephoto. What is probably less common to see is the whole process and the eureka moment in a real life example. And how much difference it can make.
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  2. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Interesting to see anothers though process. I like the 19mm. The spires fill the top right of the frame and the bike fills the bottom left (and the birds are a bonus). There are no conflicts with the bike and background, the frame is full and the composition feels balanced to me... but I like shooting wide.
  3. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Yes, there are a few things I'd change right now, as usual. As you say the bike fight with the background, that is probably why I took the f5 shot without clearly realizing it. The 19 shot is too flat for me, everything is too small and distant, too much empty space. I like the "get closer" advice.
    There are a few more on Flickr, another one at 19 that is even cleaner:

    • Like Like x 1
  4. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    All personal opinion, but I think the first 19mm shot is busy quadrant - empty quadrant - busy quadrant - empty quadrant.

    I like the framing of the bike in the 13mm shot. If I had had the sense of mind that you had, I would have done the step back and zoom to distance compress the background on that one.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    I went through a similar process some time back as well. I found it interesting to go back through a few years of pictures to see where where the focal lengths are clustered.