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Thread: Portrait perspective issues investigated

  1. #11

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    I do appreciate fully that numbers do not a composition make. We are artists, not visual accountants. As I indicated in my OP, I was trying to think through a question, not having the ability to test with the camera, trying to confirm or adjust my impressions from experience in (mostly) other formats using what seemed a simple approach to provide guidelines.

    Thanks to all who have taken the time to respond.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  2. #12

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    You are welcome, Ulophot. You are working on the right questions whether it makes sense yet or not.

    Getting the general idea of how perspective works is an important thing. I remember the first time I was told the perspective was is essentially governed by the distance from the camera to the subject and that it didn't matter what the focal length of the lens was. It just did not compute.

    Think about this way. When you look at the scene you have the same perspective as your camera but you can see a lot more of the World around you, then the camera can; the camera is just cropping the scene down.

    So if you imagine straight lines running from the corners of the film, then converging in the lens, and then continuing out into the scene you can get a reasonable idea of what the angle of view actually might be. When the corners of your print matches those lines, the angle of view when holding the print in your hand, then the perspective is normal, the subject matter will look normal, as if you were there. It is my opinion that when you hear someone describe a photo as looking almost 3-D, they have found exactly the right viewing distance.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  3. #13

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    Not to belabor my point, but I just came across the Southworth and Hawes portrait of John Quincy Adams seated, frontal, leg crossed, http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImage...nal/DT1666.jpg. His pose tends to match my description of the crossed leg/foot issue. This image appears to have been taken from perhaps 15 feet, guessing from the perspective. I don't know what focal length the gentlemen had for their Daguerreotype camera(s).
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  4. #14

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    Not to belabor my point, but I just came across the Southworth and Hawes portrait of John Quincy Adams seated, frontal, leg crossed, http://images.metmuseum.org/CRDImage...nal/DT1666.jpg. His pose tends to match my description of the crossed leg/foot issue. This image appears to have been taken from perhaps 15 feet, guessing from the perspective. I don't know what focal length the gentlemen had for their Daguerreotype camera(s).
    Probably a "normal" lens for that format.

    If you look at Karsh's work, as mentioned earlier he used a 14" or 360mm lens on his 8x10. Avedon used a 360mm on his 8x10 for his American West series. A 360 is equal to a 180 on 4x5 so a 210mm would be even better. A lot of 4x5 photographers use a 210mm for portraits.

    Try your 210mm and if you are not happy with it then swap it for a 240 or 250mm. A 300mm is nice for head shots or head and shoulder shots.

    http://www.karsh.org/#/the_work/portraits

    http://www.americansuburbx.com/2011/...vedons-in.html

  5. #15
    J. Austin Powers appletree's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    I know this might not be the place, but it is sort of relevant. 18" lenses, 14" lenses, etc? Is this the same as 210mm, 360mm lenses, etc? Just metric vs standard? If it is a long answer, then feel free to just link me somewhere.

    And also, will 210mm on 4x5 be fine for full body portrait work as well as chest up? If I have someone slouched over a chair would I be better off picking up my yet-to-purchase 150mm?

  6. #16
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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    If you've got room, a 210 is fine for full body, it'll have thinner DOF and less background than the 150.

    Newcomers; get shooting is my advice to analysis questions.

  7. #17

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    Quote Originally Posted by appletree View Post
    I know this might not be the place, but it is sort of relevant. 18" lenses, 14" lenses, etc? Is this the same as 210mm, 360mm lenses, etc? Just metric vs standard? If it is a long answer, then feel free to just link me somewhere.

    And also, will 210mm on 4x5 be fine for full body portrait work as well as chest up? If I have someone slouched over a chair would I be better off picking up my yet-to-purchase 150mm?
    Yes just metric vs ...

    The biggest difference between using 150, 210, and a 360 for a full length portrait is how far the subject will be from the camera. The longer the lens, the further the subject needs to be from the camera just to fit in the frame.

    If you're working in a short room, you need a short lens.

    If you're using a short lens, a larger print will typically make the print look more normal and vice versa for any given print viewing distance.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  8. #18
    J. Austin Powers appletree's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    First off, thanks for the information.

    Second off, sorry, I should know this after shooting for 5+ years. But TBH my 80mm stays on my Hassie 95% of the time, as does my 50mm Summicron on my Leica. I guess first I need to fully understand "short lens". Not merely the size of the lens, but the relationship of the focal length of the lens vs the film being used...correct?

    One additional question is, if I understand you correctly, then generally if using a short lens (ie 75mm, 90mm, etc in 4x5) a print will look more normal (I assume to the human eye/viewer of the print?) when printed on a large scale. Whereas when using a longer lens (210mm, 360mm, etc in 4x5) a print will look more normal when printed smaller. But this also has to do with distance between the viewer and the print?

    Thanks again for the help and explanation.

  9. #19

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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    You bet apple tree.

    Normal perspective comes when the camera's angle-of-view matches the print viewers angle-of-view.

    Take your Hasselblad with the 80 and point it at a print on your wall. Match the edges of the View finder frame to the edges of the print. When your eyes view the print from the same distance as the camera does the perspective will be normal, the angles of view will match. If you put a wider angle lens on the camera and leave the camera in exactly the same spot, it would take a larger print to fill the cameras view. The distance from your nose to the print would be the same in either case and both prints would look normal.
    You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. ~ Mark Twain

  10. #20
    J. Austin Powers appletree's Avatar
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    Re: Portrait perspective issues investigated

    Mark, got it! Thanks.

    And that leads me to the conclusion on how I should start using the "right tool for the right job"...hence swapping out lenses depending on subject matter and it's distance. I need to do some research on rules of thumb to generally get normal perspectives. The distance matters in real life because that is how you make the "print" larger. I think. Or perhaps it merely means I now have more "coverage" (a word in LF I should use loosely) of my scene. Drats, its been a long week. I will research it. Thanks for the help.

    I mean I obviously understand the amount of "print" you will see depending on a lens chosen. That said I am unsure if the point of view, aspect ratio, normal perspective, etc is also affected by this lens selection, in addition to the basic premise that you can fit more scene from the same tripod distance (nose to print) with a longer lens.

    Well, I guess I don't get it. Don't bother wasting time on me, I will do some homework and try to grasp it fully. It is difficult sometimes though, because details can be overwhelming/too in depth, even for my analytical/engineer mind.

    I will try and read through this! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspec...photography%29

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