Compression and Composition

Laura and Allan piggybacking in Ottawa, Ontario.

Hey guys!  I was out with a couple last weekend shooting their engagement photos, and though I was shooting with one of my favourite lenses (Nikon 24mm F/1.4) the background simply wasn't working the way I had envisioned it.  The subjects were at one side of the bridge, lit with the natural light of an overcast day.  I couldn't move them further into the tunnel, or I would have lost the natural light, but I really wanted to capture some of the details of the beautiful Rideau canal downtown Ottawa to frame them in the background.  Here's the original image as it was coming out with the 24mm:


Nikon D810 w/ 24mm F/1.4 G ED
Settings: F/4.5, 1/200 sec., ISO 320


The problem was that, even though the image had great expression, the beautiful features of the background were small and appeared too far away.  That's where focal length compression plays a hand into deciding how to set up a shot.  You see compression refers to a visual distortion, it produces an effect where further away objects seem much larger and closer when you're utilizing a lens with a longer focal length.  Effectively, the wider the lens, the more distant the background will seem from the subject, and vice versa.  So, with the 24mm lens the background seems tiny and distant, but when I took the same shot with a Nikon 200mm F/2 check out what I can get:


Nikon D810 w/ 200mm F/2 G ED VR
Settings: F/4.5, 1/200 sec., ISO 320


The subjects are standing in the very same spot, but the background seems DRAMATICALLY closer to them!  Next time you find yourself in a spot where the background doesn't seem to want to work with you, maybe you should think outside the box with your lens choices!

Signature block.


Here are a few more of the shots from that day's shoot: