Close-Far Adds Depth


In my teaching role, I am often asked “why are my pictures not spectacular the way the real thing was”. Usually in the context of something impressive and grand, like the eponymous Canyon.
The reason is usually “because you have added no depth”. Our eyes help our brain see in two dimensions, as does the fact that we move about. In a photo, neither of those happen. So your photos can look flat.
As I have mentioned before, there is a way to avoid that. As said earlier, we call this technique “close-far”. By adding a close object, and making it large, the far distance seems more distant – i.e., we see depth.
To do this, we use a wide angle lens and get close to the close object.
One thing I have not pointed out before is why exactly this happens. Is it due to the way wide angle lenses are constructed? Something special in the glass?
No. It is simply “where you are”. The difference in relative distance. In principle, any lens would do this.
In the picture above, Lynda is three times farther away from me than the glass. That is why the glass, being three times closer, looks three times bigger – giving my rain a clue as to its whereabouts. If I stood back a few meters, the glass and her face would be almost the same distance away from me, so they would look equally large. That’s all – relative distance. The lens does not come into it – except of course if I stood back and had a wide angle lens, Lynda and the glass would both be very small. That’s why I would use a long lens when standing back.
That, and that alone, is why we use wide lenses close to a close object to emphasis distance to a far object.

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