Focal Lengths

This exercise asks for different lenses or zoom lenses with zoom. I have used an 18 - 105 mm zoom and I realize the effect of the exercise would have been stronger if I could have used a telelens as well. The idea is to take shots with different focal lengths from the same scene and discover how the image changes. I took the photos at a little pier on the coast. Looking back at the pictures, I think that it would have been better to take a bit livelier scene. But still, the difference in the photos are still clear.

This photo was taken with a 18 mm focal length. Because of the wide angle effect, the rocks and pier bring an extra dimension to the photo and seem to bend to the middle.  In this picture the coastline in the back is also visible, giving the image a feel of space. The bird is very small, and not really the main subject of the image. 

 focal length 18 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

focal length 18 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

The next one is taken with a focal length of 25 mm. Most of the rocks on the right and the coastline are not visible anymore. The pier is less diagonal. The main subject in the scene has become the pier, since the bird is still to small to be central. This photo is not as balanced as the 18 mm, since there is only little counterbalance of the coastline. I find the difference of only 7 mm difference pretty striking!

 focal lenth 25 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

focal lenth 25 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

The next one was taken at a focal length of 35 mm. The pier takes a prominent place in the picture and the bird is starting to become the subject of the picture. The overall colours and scene are quite pale anyway and since there is no clear point to focus on, the picture is pretty boring. Looking back, I should have changed the composition a bit to get a more balanced picture.

 Focal length 35 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

Focal length 35 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

Next comes focal length 50 mm. The bird takes a central place in the image, not so much because of its size, but more because the horizontal and vertical lines seem to come together with the bird, which also happens to sit right in the middle of the image. 

 focal length 50 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

focal length 50 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

With this image the horizon seems to have gone up a little, showing some of the sea behind the bird. It seems that the longer the focal length gets, not just the view of the bird changes, but also more of the space around the subject becomes clear and changes the character of the scenery. In this case the immensity of the ocean is starting to be felt.

 Focal length 75 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

Focal length 75 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

At 105 mm the contours and colours of the bird are clearly visible and  so is the ocean in front of the bird. Since it is not really obvious anymore that the bird is sitting on a pier, the setting of the photo is changing. 

 Focal length 105 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

Focal length 105 mm f/5 s 1/200 ISO 100

I don't have a telelens, but can just imagine that with a longer focal length, the bird would seem bigger and bigger and the ocean behind more prominent. The fact that the bird is sitting on a pier at a rocky coastal line would not be relevant at all anymore. 

Doing this exercise made me realize that whenever I zoom in the picture, or use an other lense, I have to rethink the composition of the image and be aware of the change of feeling and character even a few millimeters difference can bring to a picture.

When looking at other photographers pictures I am becoming more and more aware of how my first response depends on the focal length or crop the picture was taken with.