Compressing Distances

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As I mentioned earlier, telephoto lenses are also used to compress apparent distances. The good news is that this effect, sometimes called "telephoto distortion" has nothing to do with the lens itself. It's simply an effect caused by moving farther away from a subject.

For example, if you are photographing a series of fence posts that are spaced 10 feet apart, and you're standing 10 feet from the first post, the second post will be twice as far away (20 feet), the third post will be three times as far away (30 feet), and the fourth post will be four times as far away (40 feet).

Now move 50 feet away from the first post. The second post will now be only 1.2X as far from you as the first post (60 feet instead of 50), the second will be 1.4X as far, the third will be 1.6X as far, and the fourth post will be 1.8X the distance. The apparent distance between them will be much less in your photograph. However, the fence posts will be waaay down the road from you, so if you use a telephoto lens to bring them closer, you'll see the images as relatively compressed together, as shown in Figure 2.28. The exact same thing happens if you

Thisdocument: iscreated wrthtr^ versionofCHM2PDF PMot2.16.100.as are relatively compressed. The figure shows an image of the town walls around the city of Avila, Spain, at left, and an enlargement taken with the same lens at roughly the same position, but cropped and enlarged in Photoshop so only the last six towers are visible. You can see how compressed the distances between the towers appear when the picture is blown up.

Figure 2.28. An enlargement of a portion of the photo at left produces a

"compressed" image at right.

Figure 2.28. An enlargement of a portion of the photo at left produces a

"compressed" image at right.

Telephoto perspective can flatten images in which the distance between the objects is not so obvious. Figure 2.29 shows a wide view of the Spanish town of Segovia, taken from the tower of the city's famous castle (it's the one always shown in those "castles in Spain" posters). When the image is cropped to its center portion, buildings in the foreground that are 100 yards from the cathedral in the background appear as if they butted right up against its base. Photoshop helps you re-create this telephoto effect without the need for a telephoto lens.

Figure 2.29. A normal lens shot doesn't show the compression effect of a telephoto. .

Figure 2.29. A normal lens shot doesn't show the compression effect of a telephoto. .

Figure 2.30.

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