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We've talked a lot about line and shape in composition and the importance of line and shape in composition. What we haven't talked about is how much you can control shape with your camera. So I am walking around and I've seen this building. A couple of things; it's just a nice old red brick building. I like the tree behind it. I like that from this angle one side is lit up with some nice tree shadow on it and this side is dark. What I like about the light dark thing is I think I am going to be able to tone it, to exaggerate that a little bit, and really give a sense of depth of this being a 3D object.
I also like these great lines. However, I am standing right here when I see the building. To take that shot I've got to go pretty wide. So I'm going to zoom out, frame the shot that I like, take my picture and this is what I get. Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with this picture, but let's take a look at what I've got. When I am standing here with my naked eye, it's more of a square building. I mean it's a rectangle, but the lines are more straight up and down. With the shot that I took, I'm seeing a whole lot of exaggerated perspective.
Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it's very different from what I was seeing. So, I think I want to try another shot. I have moved backwards, so that I have to zoom in more. Remember, as you zoom in, the sense of depth in a scene compresses. That really changes the perspective. It changes the shape of lines and how they recede. I think I need to go a little bit over here to stay lined up. So now I am going to zoom to roughly the same framing. It's not going to be exactly the same. My main thing is I want the building with this corner here and I want the tree behind it. So I am going to frame that shot and take it, and I get this.
This is a very different looking building. Here was the first one. Here is the second one. As you can see, this one looks more square. What I like about it is I am seeing more of the tree in the background. I am going to have to work with these and tone them up and see which one I like more than the other. I think I'm probably though favoring this one right now, the second one, I like it a little more square. The important thing to take away from this is that I can dramatically control the shape of an object sometimes, depending on my camera position and focal length. Your zoom lens is a great convenience, because it means if you go look at thing over there, you don't necessarily have to walk all the way over there.
However, it's important to understand that you're really changing shape of things. You don't just use your zoom lens for convenience, you use it for the control of line and shape, and that can be critical to get the composition that you want.
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