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Camera Basics

By TOMMY WILLIAMS / L’Observateur / September 29, 1998

As you sit and view your latest batch of photos, try to notice if they have that “Return to the Land of Oz” look. Although we nickname many of ourchildren “munchkin,” they shouldn’t actually look like one.

Photographically, their legs may appear shorter than normal or their facial features may be slightly distorted, such as a large nose. Theseeffects aren’t limited to just shooting photos of children; it applies to adults, as well. These two problems can easily be avoided by choosing theproper camera height and lens (or zoom setting) selection when taking photos in certain situations, mainly full length (head to toe) and close-up (face only) shots.

Proper camera height can greatly affect the visual appearance of your photographs. Under normal conditions, the camera should be positionedjust above the waist line of the subject, tilted slightly downward when shooting full length body shots. This should produce photos with a morenormal visual perspective. If you position the camera at knee level orlower, it will elongate the legs. In contrast, holding the camera too farabove the waist will shorten the legs. Next photo opportunity, try taking afull length shot from three different angles to see how it can affect your own photos.

Other than camera height, lens (or zoom setting) selection can also distort the appearance of your photographs.

Selecting the proper lens or zoom lens setting can reduce distortion when shooting close-up (facial) photos. Lens selection pertains to camera thathave the ability to either change lenses or change the zoom setting of the lens. Lenses that are longer than 70mm tend to flatten out the photograph.If you shoot close-up photos with lenses that are wider than 70mm, you can notice that the nose will appear distorted, larger than normal. Objectsclosest to the camera lens will visually appear larger than others. This isnot noticeable when shooting three-quarter length (head to middle thigh) and full length photos. Try setting the zoom at 70mm or higher and see ifyou notice the improvements in your own close-up photos.

Choosing the proper camera height and lens selection can help photographs keep a more normal visual perspective, as well as keeping our munchkins their normal size. It’s best to make viewing photos a trip to the past,rather than at trip to the “Land of Oz!”

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