Change Focal Length & Shutter Speed….

and by doing so – Change the Subject’s Appearance
We can make nearly an infinite number of different images (of the same subject without changing our position or angle) via camera techniques such as –

  • Changing lens (focal lengths)
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture
  • White Balance
  • and so on

This side by side comparison shows a simple example (straight from the camera; click to enlarge) –

Vernal falls, Shenandoah National Park (vernal pools/falls are temporary – seasonal or after heavy rain; this particular one is pretty rare)
Nikon D300, Tokina 50-135 f/2.8, Tripod
Left image – 70mm, 1 sec, f/22; Right image – 135mm, f/5.6, 1/13 sec
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The right hand image is the area outlined in red in the left image – achieved in the camera by zooming in and not in Photoshop by cropping out.
Compositionally, I wanted –

  • A flow on an oblique through the picture space in both images
  • A sense of place (context) and the soft cotton candy water (left)
  • A story almost entirely about the water – less context, more water detail (right)
  • The scene was very cluttered with branches which forced me to concentrate on a small portion of the overall falls in order to simplify the compositions and to remove distractions

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In the sequence of images leading to this pair, I started wide and zoomed in. That is my normal approach for all subjects ranging from broad landscapes all the way down to macros. I start from afar and move closer – with my feet and my lens/focal length selection. Outdoors, I will typically shoot from at least two (more often three or more) distances. At each distance, I will shoot at about three different focal lengths. This is discussed in this post of mine titled Get Closer.

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