52.2 month 04 : lens choice

Inclusion, Isolation, Environment, Specialty Lenses and Creative Purpose

Wide angle lenses allow our camera to see wider than the eye can, and therefore allow us to include a great deal of environment along with our subject. They are typically the lens of choice for a landscape photographer. Wide angle lenses tend to flatten our subject into the environment, however, so that most everything seems about the same distance away. And just like flattening the globe into a 2 dimensional map, a great deal of distortion can result, particularly toward the edges of the frame. A savvy photographer turns these supposed consequences into advantages. Maneuvering through these choices allows us each to develop a unique perspective.

Telephoto lenses bring distant subjects close by magnifying the scene and, consequently, we are able to view only a smaller portion of it at a time. Moreover, telephoto lenses tend to create a shallow depth of field and compress the background, leaving less environment surrounding a subject, and that environment is often quite blurred. For this reason, portrait artists often use longer focal lengths, so that their subject remains prominent in the frame and other elements are reduced. The consequence, of course, is that the photographer then has fewer elements with which to tell her story.

Fisheye lenses are ultra wide-angle lenses that create visual distortion, so the image is circular rather than rectilinear. These lenses allow an angle of view that is greater than 100 degrees – sometimes even allowing a 180 degree point of view!

Macro lenses allow you to get very close to your subject and may capture details barely noticed with the naked eye.

Tilt-shift lenses are designed to allow the photographer to tilt the plane of focus and shift the position of the subject without moving the camera back. They are useful when photographing architecture, in order to avoid the convergence of parallel lines, although many photographers have utilized it when shooting portraits.

Lensbaby brand of lenses are designed to give a creative effect, where one portion of the frame will be in focus, while the rest is blurred. In some cases, the lensbaby will mimic the effect of the tilt-shift lens.

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