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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
So I'm in the Financial District here in San Francisco, standing in front of this really nice building with this colonnade in front of it, and I want to get a shot of it. As I look at it here with my naked eye, I see a little bit of perspective distortion, but not a lot. However, to get the shot framed, I'm having to use a pretty wide-angle lens. I'm using a 24-millimeter wide angle, and I cannot get any further back from it to use a longer focal length, so I'm pretty much stuck here with this framing. And when I shoot with this framing, here's what I get: I get a pretty wildly distorted building.
I'm getting--I mean, okay maybe not wildly distorted, but I get a lot of distortion. I get a lot of perspective shift going up the columns. That's not really what it looks like to my eye. I would really like to square it off more. So this is where I'm going to go to work with my tilt-shift lens. This is a 24-millimeter Canon tilt-shift. So what I'm going to do is shift the lens upward, which is going to correct this perspective distortion, but as I do that, it's also going to change the composition of my shot because as I shift upward, I'm going to crop the bottom of the building. So as I'm shifting upward, I'm also going to need to tilt my camera down.
Now, we're rolling video on the camera, so you're going to be able to see this whole process. The first thing going on here is that I need to adjust how the shift on my lens is working. The last shot that I took with it was a portrait orientation, so right now that shift is set to go from side to side. That's not what I need. So I'm going to flip a release here on the side of the lens and that lets me rotate the entire mechanism around until--there we go-- now my shift is back to going vertical.
Lots of locks on this lens to keep things from accidentally shifting or tilting. So I've got to loosen those. Once I do, I have two options for controlling the shift. I can use this little knob here or I can actually just grab the lens and push it up and down. The knob is nice for really fine control. So what I'm going to do--and you can see this changing here--I'm shifting the lens up and as I do, it's a little hard to tell because of the way the crop is changing, but the building is squaring up. So now I need to do that second motion I was talking about and tilt the lens down.
Sorry, that wasn't smoother, but this is a ballhead on my tripod so that is making--it makes it difficult to just do a straight tilt. So now look at the difference. The columns are very, very straight. And in fact, they may have been corrected too much. They might now be tilting forward, so I'm going to back off on this a little bit. Now then, you are seeing that the bottom of the building is cropped off. That's because as we're shooting video, I'm stuck with a 16:9 aspect ratio, so the way that I'm actually framed for stills is going to still show the top and bottom of the frame.
So that looks much better. I'm going to take my shot. I'm going to wait for some traffic to go by so I get a clear shot. There's one right now. I take my shot. Oh, okay, this is all wrong. My exposure is way off. And the exposure is off because the camera cannot actually, or accurately, meter through the lens when it's shifted. So I've got to back up and start this process over now. I'm going to put my lens back to normal, and I'm going to frame my shot the way that I want it, and I'm going to meter.
I'm in Aperture Priority mode. I want pretty deep depth of field, so I'm metering at f/10. So that meter is in at a shutter speed of a 30th of a second. So I'm going to go over here to Manual mode and just dial those settings in. Now my exposure is locked correctly. Now, I can do my shift again. I'm going to shift this down. No, that's wrong. I'm going to shift this up. Going down is going to shift it the wrong direction and make the perspective worse. And then I'm going to tilt this down, and that's looking much better.
Now, I can take my shot and I get accurate exposure. So this is the process that I'm going through all the time with my tilt-shift lens. Again, it's manual focus so I'm manually focusing ahead of time, then setting my exposure, locking my exposure in, and then I can do my adjustments to the lens to correct my perspective. I don't use tilt for this. All I need to get this working is shifting up and down. And I can go in either direction. I can either pull the perspective in or push it back out again.
That's how you square up a building when you need to get that wide-angle shot.
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