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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.
In the last movie we looked at how a long lens really compresses the sense of depth in a scene and how you can use that to create very different compositions. We're going to work with that again here, but we're also going to take a look at depth of field. We've pulled Greg out from in front of the Golden Gate Bridge and dropped him into this polo field. And what I want to do here is play up the shallow depth of field that I can get with my long lens and combine that with some of the depth compression to create an environment and a sense of space in the scene that I just can't get with a wide lens.
So I'm up pretty close to him here because this is very often how it is when you're hanging out with somebody and you decide to take their picture: you're usually standing pretty close when that moment happens and so you tend to work with shorter focal lengths, even if you have a very long lens on your camera. So I'm at 100 mm. Greg is standing up here in the bleachers. I'm going to take his picture. I'm framing a shot, and I'm just kind of trying to fill the frame with him as much as I can. I'm getting a little bit of background. I've opened my aperture up all the way. Now, as I'm facing this scene, I know that I want shallow depth of field. I want to separate him from the background. With my 100 mm lens the background is large in the frame.
That's going to make it easier to see that it is defocused. So I've opened my aperture up all the way, which at this focal length on this lens is at 4.5. So I'm going to take my shot after I focus. It's not much else to it on a shot like this. The stabilizer is on the lens so I'm getting a nice stable shot. Notice that I got my elbows up against my body. That's giving me a lot of stability. And I fire away and I get this. So I like this, it's a nice shot. Greg is mostly filling the frame. He is obviously the subject of the image.
Notice that the background is shallow. It's not super shallow. It's also in some ways a little cluttered. There's a lot going on in the frame. The background back there looks a long way away. Now in the last video you saw how I could bring the background closer by going to a longer focal length. I can do that with this lens. I can zoom out all the way to 400, but at this point I'm seeing Greg's left nostril. So what I need to do is pull farther back so that I can frame the same shot with this longer lens. So take a look at this one and make note of how much Greg is filling the frame because now I want to frame the same shot from a different location.
So to do that, I am going to zoom my lens out, which means I need to get really far away. Now again the idea here is that by zooming out I'm going to be able to make the depth of field, the shallow depth of field, more apparent because it's going to compress the depth. That's going to bring the background closer, and it's going to be easier for me to see that the background is out of focus. So, this is an example of a telephoto lens that's being used not because I need to see something really far away. I've got full access to Greg. If I want to, I can just walk right up to him. But I'm wanting this shallow depth-of-field thing so I need to get far away and use my longer lens.
So I've moved back here, I've zoomed out to 400, and I'm finding that's a little bit close so I'm going to zoom in a little bit. I'm at, like, 380 or something like that. So I'm framing him about the same way. I've still got my aperture wide open; however, at this focal length, now wide open is 5.6. So I've lost a little bit, but it's not really going to matter because it doesn't matter to my exposure, and it's not going to matter really to the depth of field because with the background larger, the shallow depth of field is a little bit more obvious.
So here I can see that the depth of field is really nice and soft. But look what else has happened: the bleachers have been compressed. Before, Greg was kind of sticking up off of them. Now he's more kind of surrounded by them. They're really filling the frame a lot more. It's a cozier environment. It's also a simpler image. There's less in the background. It's more just bleachers and some green and some sky. Now, I'm not sure what I think of about the green. Actually, I don't have sky just got green. I'm not sure what I think about the green.
I would like to try a different composition. These super-telephoto lenses and the ultra- wide-angle lenses, when you get to these extremes, tiny movements, tiny changes in camera position can really have a big impact in the composition of your scene. This is part of the fun about working super telephoto or working ultra wide. I have a huge variety of relationships that I can play with. So watch what happens if I move from right here to up here. I've raised my camera maybe six inches and when I do that and frame Greg at the same size, still shooting wide open, I get this, a very, very noticeable change in composition here.
Most of the, well not most, a lot of the green stuff has been cropped out. His head is now below the horizon. And again, that's simply going, moving the camera from here to here. That's the change we're talking about, and this is the kind of change that you've got to pay really close attention to when you're working with these extreme lenses. Moving from here to here might change the relationship of many different items in the frame. So that's something to always be diligent about looking for. It's also something that you can play with. One of the fun things about these lenses is moving around and seeing what kind of different compositions you can compose.
But here what we're really going for is that cozy look that's created by the shallow depth of field and the compressed background, and that's something that I can do with one of these nice long lenses. So, you will use this for more than just shooting things that are far away. Even in more ordinary circumstances, you might want to employ your super-telephoto lens to change the sense of space in the image and go for a very different feel.
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