Photo Tip: Vary Your Focal Length for Different Take on Same Subject

As much as photographers like to hem and haw over photo editing (some say photo manipulation changes the truth of an image... others say it’s needed to better illustrate the reality they saw the moment the photo was taken), the truth is, image manipulation starts long before you take the photo. It starts  with your lens choice.

Take a look at these two photos below...

The first image was shot with a wide angle zoom at 17mm. I was standing right below the aspens and wanted to capture a large portion of the grove. Because I was using a short focal length and my camera was pointed up, I knew the trees would be distorted and the trunks would lean inwards. But to me, that made the trees look even bigger and would give the viewer the sense of being there.

Shot with a longer focal length (105mm), what I was going for in this second image, below, was more of a semi-abstract composition, a collection of branches and leaves filling the frame, and little else.

This shot is about color, texture, and patterns. Because of the longer focal length, the trees appear to be all bunched together, while in reality they were more spread apart.

In the end, either of these images could be used to illustrate a travel article about the beauty of aspen trees and fall colors.

However, each renders the trees in a different way because of the different lenses. Next time you’re out photographing, make sure you take a variety of pictures of the same subject using a variety of focal lengths -- either by changing your lens or by zooming in and out with the lens you have.

This will maximize your chances of one of your images being selected by an editor.

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]