Perspective and Lens Choice
There is any number of different lenses available for a multitude of situations. You need to ask yourself ‘which lens should I use for what type of shot’. A wide angle lens for example will allow you to get more into your shot whereas a telephoto lens magnifies distant objects. If it was a simple as changing a lens depending on the shot this would not be too much of problem but technically you have to also consider the change to perspective. What this means is you are affecting the spatial relationship and framing of your photograph.
You have two options to achieve your goal. The first is you can change your lens. The second and more obvious is you can physically move yourself. The latter is not always practicable. If you are trying to capture an image in an enclosed space you may not be able to move further away to get the whole image in and that is where a change of lens is necessary. Secondly, you may wish to take an image of a particularly impressive rock formation half-way up a mountain. Even if you climbed to where the rock formation is located you would not get the image you require. The rock formation is only impressive from a distance.
To achieve the best results it is no use just pointing and clicking. You need to spend time examining you subject from every angle possible. If it is within range examine from directly in front of it, from the side, from within it or past it. As you do so view the scene through your camera and then try a range of lenses to see what works best. You need to know what composition you wish to achieve and the best way to achieve it.
Wide Angle or Telephoto?
Wide angle lenses put the viewer of the photograph into the centre of the photograph giving the impression they are actually there. The perspective is exaggerated and produces a sense of involvement and adds a depth of image and a dramatic effect. The background to the shot is also part of the end product as you will find it difficult to locate a background that is uncluttered.
Telephoto lenses on the other hand generate a feeling of detachment. You are drawing your viewer’s attention to a specific object. The background in these shots may be complementary to the framed shot or it may be quite neutral. However the important factor is the subject in the middle of the frame.
It is crucial you use the right length of lens for the effect you want. A 28mm lens requires you to get close to the subject and will include a lot the background. This leads to an unattractive distortion of the proportions and lines in the scene. A 50mm lens gives a more natural perspective and a reduction in the background but the effect could still be improved.