Photography Fridays: Distortion...

It's something not everyone sees but once you do train your eye, it'll bug you like crazy when you do see it!

Today, I'm talking about distortion due to focal length. Basically, the shorter your focal length, the more distortion you'll get in your image. When I say distortion, I'm talking about the messed up proportions of an image. Sometimes it has a cool effect that you can use to create some fun images. But when shooting a portrait, you would want to avoid it as much as possible as it's not very flattering.

For example, I know my kids have big heads atop their long, skinny bodies but I don't always want to emphasize this...

(Shot with 50mm on a full frame sensor)

His neck and shoulders look extra scrawny! To capture him more proportionately, I would use a longer focal length...
(Shot at 200mm on same camera)

See? His ears are much more proportionate to his face - big. lol And as cute as it is to have such huge eyes on a little kid, it's still not proportionately accurate and there will be something about it that just doesn't seem right. This may be something you have to train your eye to see or you may see it right away in this example. The distortion will cause whatever is closer to the camera to appear huge and whatever is farther to seem much smaller.

I also had him sit down and take pics with his feet in view and one closer to the camera...
(shot at 50mm)

The red footprints I stamped on the image are the exact same size. If you don't believe me and have time to waste, get out your ruler and check. This is not the best example as 50mm is my shortest lens on stock today (2 lenses in the shop this week!) but I hope you can tell a difference in the distortion. Also, notice the tiles are dramatically angled to a point behind him. With a longer lens, they would look a bit straighter and the objects behind him will be more proportionate in size. I'll do that part of this another day. :)

Just for fun, here is a shot taken 2 ways. Can you tell which is the 50mm shot vs the 200mm shot?
If you're looking for some fun distorted images for a whimsical feel to your photojournalistic style, then this pose would work out and be fun! However, a longer lens will capture the scene as it is in real life and this pose is not very flattering as most people aren't looking to shorten their leg length!

Happy Shooting!