Telephoto Effects

Photoshop can help you compensate for that long telephoto you can't afford, or which isn't available for your digital camera. Telephotos are great for bringing your subject closer when you can't get close physically.

Thisdocument iscreated with trialversionof CHM2PDF Htot2.16.100^ are actually more widely separated than they appear to be. Tele lenses are often used in those car-chase sequences you see in the movies. From the head-on view, it looks like the hero is weaving in and out of cars that are only a few feet apart. In real life, they were probably separated by 40 feet or more, and crammed together through the magic of a telephoto lens.

Unfortunately, most non-SLR digital cameras don't have really long telephoto lenses available. Some digital models may have skimpy 3:1 zoom lenses that simulate at their maximum the view you'd get with, say, a short 105mm or 135mm lens on a conventional 35mm camera. Some semi-pro models offer 10:1 and 12:1 zooms (or better) that still don't bring you close enough. The so-called "digital" zoom built into many models does offer more magnification, but they do nothing more than enlarge a selection of pixels in the center of the sensor to fill your entire image area. You don't actually gain any additional information. You can purchase add-on telephotos for most digital cameras, but these can cost hundreds of dollars and you might not use them very often. You might as well do the job in Photoshop, where you can enlarge and sharpen your image in real-time under your full control. If you have a digital camera with 5-6 megapixels or more, this can work quite well.

Of course, if you own a digital SLR and have deep pockets, you can add a longer lens. Economical zoom lenses in the 70300mm range (which may equate to a 105mm to 450mm equivalent on a film camera at the typical 1.5X multiplier) are available, but those shooting sports, wildlife, and some other subjects may yearn for even longer optics.

Again, Photoshop can come to the rescue. The key to successfully mimicking a long telephoto with Photoshop is to start with the sharpest original picture possible. Follow these suggestions to get your best picture:

• Use the sharpest film (conventional camera) or lowest ISO setting (digital camera) you can, given the lighting conditions and your subject matter. That might mean using an ISO 100 film (or its digital equivalent setting) for a scenic photo, or an ISO 200400 film or setting for an action picture. Whatever your digital camera's "base" ISO setting is will give you the best and sharpest results.

• If your camera has manual settings or can be set to shutter priority mode (in which you choose the shutter speed and the camera sets the lens opening) use the shortest shutter speed you can. I've found that even a brief 1/500th second exposure can still be blurred by camera motion in the hands of someone who isn't accustomed to holding the camera really steady. A short exposure will stop subject motion, too. While the brief duration of flash can also freeze your image, most flash units have a range of 20 feet or less, so they won't be useful for your long distance/long lens photography.

• Consider using a tripod, if you have one available, to steady your camera. At the very least, try bracing the camera against a rigid object, such as a tree, building, or rail.

• Use your longest lens or zoom setting to provide the most magnification you can in your original picture.

Figure 2.20 shows a true long-lens photo of the kind we want to simulate with Photoshop. It was taken with a digital SLR using a 400mm prime lens, which produces the same magnification as a 600mm lens (equivalent, after the multiplier factor was figured in; many dSLRs have sensors that are smaller than a full 35mm frame and provide a cropped image. The lens's focal length must be multiplied to arrive at the true equivalent). I added a 2X teleconverter attachment that increased the effective focal length again, to 1200mm. Photoshop lets you mimic this magnification in your image editor, although enlarging a moon shot like this one probably would be too fuzzy to use. We can get better results enlarging other kinds of scenes, which have lots of detail that masks the process. I use sports photos in the next example.

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