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As an adjunct to the Tangents blog, the intention with this forum is to answer any questions, and allow a diverse discussion of topics related photography. With that, see it as an open invitation to just climb in and start threads and to respond to any threads.

Zoom out or back up?

I was wondering why Neil was recommending walking away from your subject rather than zooming out to widen the composition, such as going from a close cropped head and shoulders portrait to a full body portrait. This link explains it well: http://neilvn.com/tangents/composition-for-full-length-portraits/

When I realized what he was saying I 'got it'. What he's saying (I think) is avoid wide angles with portraits and use as tight a focal length as possible. I think my failure to understand the advice was for two reasons: One, I didn't understand it. And two, I thought he was also suggesting walking towards your subject to tighten a shot rather than zooming -- the reverse of the walking backwards technique to widen a shot. I think that's wrong. He is not suggesting walking towards a subject to tighten a shot. He's recommending zooming in as far as the lens allows and only then walking toward subject, if necessary, to get the composition you want. 

My questions are:

1. Is all that right, above?
2. Regarding the line in the Tangents tutorial "Zooming wider and shooting from “above”, will give me this kind of bobble-head distortion, where her head is much larger, and her legs are much shorter. NOT flattering." Why would zooming wider necessitate shooting from above? Why wouldn't you shoot was same level? Are you getting a bobble head and short legs from shooting above or from shooting at a wide angle?

I thought Mike Whealan's comment on the tutorial was really interesting. He said it's not the wide lens -- or wide end of a lens -- that creates distortion and the unflagging looks, it's the distance to your subject. Do you agree? If he's right, then everything we thought about wide angle lenses is wrong, it's simply that they force you to get too close to the subject? 

Thanks Neil. 


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