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Thread: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    This thread sprung from a clarification request of something I said in this thread: Male Portrait VI

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries
    If you're struggling to place a subject of a certain size between two things either side in the background*, if you can, step back a yard or so yourself and shoot using a slightly longer focal length (or crop in PP) to achieve a framing that excludes the background elements, ~

    * and assuming the subject and background are effectively in fixed positions
    Quote Originally Posted by george013
    I don't understand the above. Could you explain?
    I said I'd demonstrate, so I quickly set up something today and took a couple of shots.

    I didn't have a portrait subject or enough space, so everything is scaled down - imagine the front of the toy tractor is our portrait head and the two black things behind are the background clutter we're trying to avoid getting in shot.

    Between the two pictures, I only moved the camera position, I did not move the subject or background.
    They were shot with a P&S (hence "FF equivalent focal length") and the first two are uncropped, SOOC images, apart from downsizing to 800 px height for display here.

    Shot from a 'normal' distance at 46 mm.
    Note how the background elements (dog ornaments) overlap the subject
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions


    Shot from further away at 120 mm, but with subject's 'face' the same size in frame*.
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    * I framed both with the wheel axles on the LCD 'rule of thirds' grid intersections.

    Now, if I crop these as I might a face, we can see that the closer (46 mm) shot has still has a significant "cluttered background" issue - and it won't be easy to clone out if the subject has hair instead of tyres!
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Whereas in the one shot from a bit further back, what's left is far easier to deal with.
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    If anyone is wondering why the DoF is greater on the second shot, that's because my camera's zoom is not constant aperture, so the f/3.5 at 46mm became f/5.9 at 120 mm. with more time, I should have shot both at same aperture (f/5.9), but since DoF isn't the primary lesson here, I cut that corner

    Ideally, I should also have shot at 46mm from where I was standing for the 120 mm shot, in order to demonstrate that, with more cropping in PP, the result would have been the same as shooting with 120 mm.

    The key thing to take away is:
    it's the change of camera to subject distance that's making the difference here, it is NOT the focal length being used.


    One day, I might re-shoot this properly, with a more representative subject (e.g. face of doll or soft toy), use the same aperture, take the third shot (and crop more) - and measure some relative distances 'for the record'.

    Any questions, do ask.

    Anyway, I hope that helps folks,
    Dave
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th November 2017 at 10:00 PM.

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Now I see what you meant.
    If you're struggling to place a subject of a certain size between two things either side in the background*
    It's clear to me.
    Thanks.

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Good example and a very valid point. Another reason I like shooting people with longer focal lengths...

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Thanks both,

    Also valid for home studio shooters - many background rolls come in either 5 feet (1.5m) or 9 feet (2.7 m), and since many won't have room for the latter, they have to use the shorter version and can have trouble 'fitting' the subject between the edges.

    The solution being as above because the distraction is what's behind and/or either side of the background roll.

    Dave

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Thanks both,

    Also valid for home studio shooters - many background rolls come in either 5 feet (1.5m) or 9 feet (2.7 m), and since many won't have room for the latter, they have to use the shorter version and can have trouble 'fitting' the subject between the edges.

    The solution being as above because the distraction is what's behind and/or either side of the background roll.

    Dave
    You know my preference for drawings. So I made this one
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by george013 View Post
    You know my preference for drawings. So I made this one
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    George
    George, whilst I also like diagrams I find this one does little to support or explain what Dave has so clearly demonstrated photographically.

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    George, whilst I also like diagrams I find this one does little to support or explain what Dave has so clearly demonstrated photographically.
    I think George's diagram represents Dave's point perfectly. Assuming that you continue to use an angle of view that keeps the size of the primary subject the same, then the farther back you stand, the smaller the slice of background you include. This can be done by cropping or by using a longer lens; it makes no difference. The effect of taking a smaller slice is that the background material appears more spread out when you are farther back. Dave showed this with the two dogs. Close up, the position of the dogs corresponds to the intersection of the top with the magenta lines. Farther back, the intersection with the green lines.

    This diagram also shows why switching to a longer lens but keeping the framing of the primary subject the same--that is, stepping back--increases background blur, which is a phenomenon entirely distinct from DOF.

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by DanK View Post
    I think George's diagram represents Dave's point perfectly.
    Dan, whilst to those of us who are fully aware of why this happens can see what George is attempting to demonstrate diagrammatically I find the diagram far to simple and basic to explain to someone that does not know the reason.

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    To me there is not only an issue of FoV, but also Dof and in expressing that this seems to do the job with a bit more inclusion...

    It is both fun and instructive to play with these applets.

    http://graphics.stanford.edu/courses...plets/dof.html and

    http://graphics.stanford.edu/courses...lets/zoom.html

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    George, whilst I also like diagrams I find this one does little to support or explain what Dave has so clearly demonstrated photographically.
    I don't understand you. Two simple lines, two different aov, that's what Dave explains wiht the name of this thread and his photo's.

    And of course there're more aspects when changing the distance. By example look at the lines. The wider angle is changing from inner to outer showing a different magnification between the bottom and the top of the head. The so called wide angle effect. It's vissible in his pictures too.

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by george013 View Post
    I don't understand you. Two simple lines, two different aov, that's what Dave explains wiht the name of this thread and his photo's.

    And of course there're more aspects when changing the distance. By example look at the lines. The wider angle is changing from inner to outer showing a different magnification between the bottom and the top of the head. The so called wide angle effect. It's vissible in his pictures too.

    George
    Whilst it is obvious to me and you what the diagram represents that is because we fully understand what is happening and can transpose that mentally to what appears on the camera sensor.

    The diagram would not be so explanatory to someone that did not have that same knowledge.

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Stagecoach View Post
    Whilst it is obvious to me and you what the diagram represents that is because we fully understand what is happening and can transpose that mentally to what appears on the camera sensor.

    The diagram would not be so explanatory to someone that did not have that same knowledge.
    It's an addition to Dave's thread.

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    This thread sprung from a clarification request of something I said in this thread: Male Portrait VI
    The key thing to take away is:
    it's the change of camera to subject distance that's making the difference here, it is NOT the focal length being used.
    Yes I read through this thread and also the thread which you referenced.

    The salient point that you raise, is that Distance from Subject to Camera is one element of PERSPECTIVE, (the other being the Camera’s Elevation or Height, relative of the Subject).

    I understand that this is a pet sore-point and soap-box of mine and that some might be annoyed at my reiteration:

    BUT -

    Best Practice dictates that the Photographer:

    > FIRST establishes the CAMERA VIEWPOINT (which establishes the desired PERSPECTIVE)

    and

    > SECONDLY chooses the FOCAL LENGTH which establishes the desired FIELD OF VIEW.

    ***

    What happens, most of the time, nowadays, with the abundance of ZOOM LENSES, is that the Photographer stands in one place and ’zooms’.

    WW

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    Yes I read through this thread and also the thread which you referenced.

    The salient point that you raise, is that Distance from Subject to Camera is one element of PERSPECTIVE, (the other being the Camera’s Elevation or Height, relative of the Subject).

    I understand that this is a pet sore-point and soap-box of mine and that some might be annoyed at my reiteration:

    BUT -

    Best Practice dictates that the Photographer:

    > FIRST establishes the CAMERA VIEWPOINT (which establishes the desired PERSPECTIVE)

    and

    > SECONDLY chooses the FOCAL LENGTH which establishes the desired FIELD OF VIEW.

    ***

    What happens, most of the time, nowadays, with the abundance of ZOOM LENSES, is that the Photographer stands in one place and ’zooms’.

    WW
    I would like a discussion about perspective. As you know we disagree about that subject.

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Quote Originally Posted by george013 View Post
    I would like a discussion about perspective. As you know we disagree about that subject.

    George
    I don't think that we disagree about the 'subject'.

    But we do define and use the WORD "Perspective", differently.

    Unless otherwise stated, when I am discussing Photography, I use the word "Perspective" to mean:

    The "PERSPECTIVE" of THE SHOT is derived from the Camera's VIEWPOINT relative the SUBJECT(S).

    The VIEWPOINT is described by:

    1. the Relative ELEVATION (Height) of the camera (to the Subject)

    2. the SUBJECT DISTANCE (SD) (that is the linear distance from the Subject(s) to the Camera

    The above is a structure and technical definition of PERSPECTIVE, common to texts and formal training, especially in CINEMATOGRAPHY and that definition underscores how the desired FIELD of VIEW, is attained: that is by the choice of FOCAL LENGTH of the LENS.

    So, in summary, The Director of Photography, or the Cinematographer will firstly choose the CAMERA VIEWPOINT to establish the desired PERSPECTIVE for The Shot, then s/he will choose the FOCAL LENGTH of the Lens to establish the desired FIELD OF VIEW for The Shot.

    Typically that methodology (was) is how a Stills Photography student (was) is formally instructed.

    Now, I attained my Diploma and Ad. Diploma in the 1970s at East Sydney Technical College, which at the time those qualifications opened doors world wide. I am not sure how many, if any structured courses still exist: certainly a Diploma in Photography from City and Guilds (London) was another world recognized ticket.

    In my opinion there is a most valuable lesson in a persistence of re-iterating the above procedure, (and I am not really interested in debating definitions - but the definition is necessary so one can describe the procedure).

    The value is, if one practices getting the camera in the right place for the desired shot first, then and only then one uses the zoom - there will undoubtedly be better understood and more satisfying results attained.

    However, as is the way of the world, the misinformation existing on the www often does not acknowledge basic technical tenants - or worse, sometimes argues for their demise and that means conversations waft lyrically without form and structure: for example (a common one) "never use a W/A lens for Portraiture because it has too much Perspective Distortion"

    Irrespective of what "Perspective Distortion" means (that's another related topic), the Lens does NOT make the person's nose too big relative to their face - it is the DISTANCE of the Camera to the Subject which does that . . . now that all might seem very pedantic and thus irrelevant to some - but I think it is a very important point.

    Some of the greatest Portraits have been made with a W/A lens (35mm Lens on Rangefinder 135 Format Camera): and it would be a pity (is a pity) and great loss that the next generation of Photographers might never understand the why and the wherefores of that, but rather will gleefully read that they never should use a W/A lens for Portraiture and run out and buy a 70 to 200 F/2.8 zoom, because the interweb told them that is the best "Portrait Lens" to get.

    ***

    On the other hand, you (George) use the word "Perspective" to mean something else - that's fine by me.

    Unless there is something new to offer, I think that, in essence, is my side of the discussion: but I have stated all that before - so really it's not anything new, from me.

    WW

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Yes, we've been discussing this before. I'll start what I think perspective is. It's an illusion in the first place. It's the illusion of a third dimension in a 2 dimensional plane. It's also a game playing with that. The tools of the photographer are diverse: distance, focal length,composition, colors, foreground, etc. But what we're discussing now is the linear perspective. The game with vanishing points.
    In linear perspective equal subjects further away look smaller as closer by. But they're not, they're just as big. We can see that with our own eyes. Place several subjects of equal size in a line at different distances and the closest will look biggest, and the most far away looks smallest. How is that possible??? Well, we see it through our eyes. Our eyes behave as a camera with a lens. It has an AOV and therefore all subjects in a different distance have another magnification.. And that's what is meant with linear perspective.

    Look at this drawing again.
    'Fitting' a subject between background distractions
    The red line is the wide angle and is closest to the subject. A horizontal line anywhere in this drawing in the AOV-lines expresses the content of the image on that distance on that distance. The magnification is the relation of a real size relative to the horizontal line in the AOV.
    There where the red and green lines cross the magnification is equal. But the lines switch at that point. The red line is the inner line at a closer distance, and the outer line at a further distance. The magnification at the closer distance is bigger for the red line, the wide angle, and smaller for the green line, the longer focal length.

    The linear perspective is the relation of magnification between different subjects. You need more subjects to gain that illusion of a third dimension. And that's one of the reasons why perspective is changing when zooming or cropping. The amount of subjects is changing.

    Perspective in general can be gained too with other tools.

    This is in short what I think about it. And I'm not the only one.
    Let see your approach.


    Quote Originally Posted by William W View Post
    I don't think that we disagree about the 'subject'.

    But we do define and use the WORD "Perspective", differently.

    Unless otherwise stated, when I am discussing Photography, I use the word "Perspective" to mean:

    The "PERSPECTIVE" of THE SHOT is derived from the Camera's VIEWPOINT relative the SUBJECT(S).

    The VIEWPOINT is described by:

    1. the Relative ELEVATION (Height) of the camera (to the Subject)

    2. the SUBJECT DISTANCE (SD) (that is the linear distance from the Subject(s) to the Camera

    The above is a structure and technical definition of PERSPECTIVE, common to texts and formal training, especially in CINEMATOGRAPHY and that definition underscores how the desired FIELD of VIEW, is attained: that is by the choice of FOCAL LENGTH of the LENS.
    What did you define above. You start "... is derived from" and end with "....is a structural and technical definition of perspective". If you derive something you didn't define it yet. What is that definition of perspective you derived?


    So, in summary, The Director of Photography, or the Cinematographer will firstly choose the CAMERA VIEWPOINT to establish the desired PERSPECTIVE for The Shot, then s/he will choose the FOCAL LENGTH of the Lens to establish the desired FIELD OF VIEW for The Shot.
    Sorry, I just don't understand what you want to tell.


    Typically that methodology (was) is how a Stills Photography student (was) is formally instructed.

    Now, I attained my Diploma and Ad. Diploma in the 1970s at East Sydney Technical College, which at the time those qualifications opened doors world wide. I am not sure how many, if any structured courses still exist: certainly a Diploma in Photography from City and Guilds (London) was another world recognized ticket.

    In my opinion there is a most valuable lesson in a persistence of re-iterating the above procedure, (and I am not really interested in debating definitions - but the definition is necessary so one can describe the procedure).

    The value is, if one practices getting the camera in the right place for the desired shot first, then and only then one uses the zoom - there will undoubtedly be better understood and more satisfying results attained.

    However, as is the way of the world, the misinformation existing on the www often does not acknowledge basic technical tenants - or worse, sometimes argues for their demise and that means conversations waft lyrically without form and structure: for example (a common one) "never use a W/A lens for Portraiture because it has too much Perspective Distortion"

    Irrespective of what "Perspective Distortion" means (that's another related topic), the Lens does NOT make the person's nose too big relative to their face - it is the DISTANCE of the Camera to the Subject which does that . . . now that all might seem very pedantic and thus irrelevant to some - but I think it is a very important point.

    Some of the greatest Portraits have been made with a W/A lens (35mm Lens on Rangefinder 135 Format Camera): and it would be a pity (is a pity) and great loss that the next generation of Photographers might never understand the why and the wherefores of that, but rather will gleefully read that they never should use a W/A lens for Portraiture and run out and buy a 70 to 200 F/2.8 zoom, because the interweb told them that is the best "Portrait Lens" to get.

    ***

    On the other hand, you (George) use the word "Perspective" to mean something else - that's fine by me.

    Unless there is something new to offer, I think that, in essence, is my side of the discussion: but I have stated all that before - so really it's not anything new, from me.

    WW

    Here is another link dealing with viewpoint and perspective https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora...ic-composition

    George

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    Re: 'Fitting' a subject between background distractions

    Google is full of different explanations regarding perspective and a lot of it contains differing terms used to explain the same thing.

    As photographers we choose where to physically place the camera in relation to the subject/subjects (near, far, high, low, left or right) and I call this the viewpoint.

    It is this viewpoint that determines the relationship of how one subject appears with respect to another subject (w.r.t size and position) within the FOV. It is this relationship between the subjects that I consider the Perspective of the image.

    This relationship between subjects, the Perspective can be broken down into "types of perspective" that are the result of having the camera at different viewpoints to the subjects.

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