Understanding Focal Length: Wideangle vs Telephoto
Wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths each give pictures a very different look and feel. Here’s how to make the most of the extremes
A wide-angle lens (above) exaggerates perspective, making the foreground and background appear further apart.
A telephoto lens (above) appears to flatten the image, bringing the key elements closer together. Notice that the tree in the foreground is the same size in each shot.
Cleaning up the frame
Because long lenses have a narrower angle of view, it’s easier to keep distracting elements out of the picture and create ‘tighter’ shots. Wide-angle lenses take in a much greater expanse, meaning you have to check the edges of the frame closely for unwanted elements.
Used at close range, a wide-angle lens (above) creates a distorted image, which can make portraits look like caricatures.
For more flattering results, stand further away from your subject and zoom in with a longer focal length (above). The narrower view isolates a cleaner background too.