Hi everybody welcome to another episode of Exploring Photography right here on AdoramaTV. It’s brought to you by Adorama, the camera store that has every conceivable piece of photography equipment. Make sure you check them out at Adorama.com. Well we are continuing, this is Part 2 of help with “Which lens should I buy?” Specifically, which lens should you buy for portrait photography. Joining me today is Natasha, she is going to be helping us understand some things about the distance of our camera’s lens from our subject. Now if you didn’t check it out, make sure you watch last week’s episode where I talked about field of view, depth of field and distance from subject to lens, all kinds of technical things. Now we’re going to put that into practice in this very small studio. One thing I want to point out is, this isn’t a tiny studio but we’re trying to emulate a tiny studio. Specifically because a lot of people want to buy wide-angle lenses when they shoot in very small studios but a lot of seasoned professionals will say don’t do that. Make sure you use a longer lens of 50mm or 70mm, or longer. So what we’ve done here in this studio is, we’ve sort of shrunk it by not using this space back here. We’re not using this intentionally so we’ve got a gray background here We’re trying to shrink this studio just a little bit to make it look more like a tiny studio. So why is it that so many photographers will tell you to buy a lens that is 70mm or longer, maybe 50mm at the very edge, to shoot portraits? Well it all has to do with the angle of view problems that we get and most importantly the distance between our camera and our subject and what that does. So let’s start with a misnomer and that is that wide-angle lenses distort faces. They actually don’t, it’s the distance. Let me walk you through this. So what I have here is a Canon 5D Mark III and I’ve got a 24-105mm lens. So I’ve got a wide-angle lens and I’ve got a telephoto lens all in one. First I want to show you that wide-angle lenses don’t actually distort faces, it’s the distance that does that. So I’m going to go back here, there’s a little stool and I’m going to shoot two pictures. The first one I’m going to shoot at 24mm and we’re going to get everything in this shot. So it is the studio and it’s Natasha and it’s the background lights. What I’m doing is, I’m keeping Natasha’s face right in the center of the screen. I’m going to take a second shot from the exact same location but this time zoomed in. What I’m going to do here is, I’m going to take these two shots and I’m going to crop both of them so that they match. So we have the same amount of Natasha’s face in both shots. Now watch what happens when we crop them and put them side by side. You’ll notice from the wide-angle shot, her face looks the same as it does from the telephoto shot. The wide-angle lens is not distorting her face. Watch what happens when we put our wide-angle lens on our camera and I fill the frame by getting close. Now what I’m doing is, instead of going far away and cropping, which you shouldn’t do, I’m going to get the frame nice and full by getting close. Watch what happens. I have to get really close and that is not something you normally want to do with your model because look at this shot, now her face looks wonky. It is distorted because we’re so darn close that it starts to warp things and it makes Natasha feel a little bit uncomfortable. Nobody wants a camera right in their face. That’s really the main reason why you don’t want a wide-angle lens because you have to get really close and it makes things wonky when you’re that close. We also have field of view problems, in other words, we’re starting to see these striplights, the backlight and this light up here and everything, it’s really messy. By zooming in, it cleans everything up our field of view shrinks, like we saw in our last episode and it’s really nice and simple. The other reason that a wide-angle lens messes things up is because the relationships between things get all wonky. Let me illustrate this. We already said that Natasha is a little annoyed when I get close to her and so Natasha give me your best ‘stay away’. Watch what happens to her hand. So I’m going to have your hand about right there. Take a little picture here. Oh my gosh her hand is gigantic, it’s huge! The reason for that is because her hand is so much closer to the camera than her face, it makes her hand look gigantic and her face look really small. That’s sort of the distortion that people are talking about. It’s not the lens necessarily, it’s the distance between the subject and the lens. Watch what happens when I walk back here. We’re going to take the same picture but now I’m going to zoom my lens. So I’m going to zoom in, we’ll sit down here. Natasha give me the ‘get back.’ I’m going to take a shot. Now look, her hand looks more proportional to her head. It looks just like it should It’s a little blown out because it’s too close to the light but you can see the difference there. The point of this is if you’re shooting portraits, even in a small studio, you need to get back and zoom in. That’s going to put distance between you and your subjects, that’s going to make things look more natural, it’s going to narrow the angle of view, that will clean things up, it’ll make your model more comfortable in the space and everything is going to be much better. So the question is, what do you do if you want to shoot full-length shots in a very small space? Well, my suggestion is find a different space. Find something that works for what you’re trying to do. The other question is, is there ever an exception to the rule? Can you shoot portraits with a wide angle lens? Absolutely. That’s what we’re going to do next. Well this is the quintessential exception to the rule, it’s the environmental portrait. What that means is we want a portrait of a person in their environment. We’re going to mimic this by having Natasha here in this kitchen having her morning coffee, getting ready for the day. I want to make sure I get a great portrait of her but also I want to get some of the surrounding area here so I can put her in context. To do that I am using a 35mm lens, that’s not an extremely wide lens but it’s definitely wider than what you’d normally use for a headshot or an in-studio portrait but a lot of people consider a 35mm lens the perfect environmental portrait lens. This guy here I can open all the way up to an aperture of f/2. That’s great because with a wide-angle lens that allows me to get nice, soft, shallow depth of field but not so shallow that this falls completely out of context. I can still see these shapes and it’s nice and identifiable but it’s also nice and soft. Now as with all wide-angle lenses, this is something that you really should consider as a close-up lens. I’m going to be shooting pretty close to Natasha but I want to make sure I don’t distort her too much by putting her at the edges of the frame. So what I’ll do is I’ll put her either to the right third or the left third and then let the scene take up the other two thirds of the image. I’m saying a lot of words, let’s put it into practice and show you exactly how you can make a portrait that looks fantastic. I really like that shot of you having the coffee, you got a nice after coffee smile going on, it’s pretty good. Thank you so much for joining us, Natasha Thank you for joining us for this episode of Exploring Photography. Don’t forget to subscribe to AdoramaTV that way you don’t miss a single episode, like last week’s episode that helps us understand what we’re doing this week. Also, make sure you check out the Adorama Learning Center because we have videos and articles and things that will help you understand things like depth of field, field of view, aperture, shutter speeds and all that kind of stuff. All of it is absolutely free, so make sure you check that out. Thanks again for joining us and we will see you again next time.