Saturday, January 16, 2010

Zoom Zooom

Yesterday I suggested using your feet to fine tune your position. Well you can also use your feet to change your location completely. The pros often advise "Zoom with your feet". Not that you should never use a zoom lens, but rather don't rely upon that exclusively. Working at longer focal lengths makes your images more susceptible to camera shake, so by walking closer, you reduce that problem. Also moving around means that you may end up exploring perspective you would not otherwise see.

When photographing people you get a completely different type of image when you 'sniper' them from 50 metres, versus 1 metre. At 50 they don't even know you are there, but at 1 metre you are in there personal sphere and your presence is influencing them (hopefully towards a better image). So, don't be afraid to walk up close to your subjects so you can actaully fill the frame with them.

Your feet are also useful when you can't get any 'closer' with your zoom - or 'further away'. Use your feet to get the right balance between subject, foreground and background. If I want to take a picture of a freind at the far side of the room and I do it from too far away, I am likely going to get a lot of the wall behind him and a little of the person. We want it the other way around, because people are much more interesting than walls. Mostly. Some walls are very interesting, and may call for a different approach. So if you are at the Great Wall of China, take some pictures of the wall too!

Today's assignment: Learn how to use your cameras zoom feature (consult the manual if need be). Make a series of images at different combinations of 'zoom with feet' and 'zoom with camera'. Try these four combinations:
  1. Up close and zoomed in (long)
  2. Up close and zoomed out (wide)
  3. Far away and zoomed in (long)
  4. Far away and zoomed out (wide)
Of course the point of doing so is to study the results.

Advanced user assignment: Repeat the above four combinations, once with your largest aperture, and once with a small aperture (eight in total). Say f/3.5 and f/16. Your lens may not allow the widest aperture when at your longer focal lengths. If your lens will allow you to go larger than f/3.5 than do so. Magic can happen at f/2.0 or f/1.4.

P.S. Digital versus optical zoom. If your camera allows digitial zoom, be cautious with it's usage. Some say never use digital zoom, only optical. You can 'zoom digitally' on your computer after the fact - it is called cropping when done then.
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