Photography is a magical science driven by a creative spirit. Today we would like to get into both the science and the creative part and even top it off with some magic.
When I was 12 years old (back in Russia) I hollered to my friend Vasily to come over.His reply was rude but clever “Hay doesn’t come to the cow.” I have never heard that expression before and never heard it from anyone else after but it stuck with me forever.
When photographing, one could bring the background closer to the subject without moving either the subject or the background.
There you have it: telephoto compression phenomenon — background appears closer to the subject when you increase the focal length of the lens.
Notice the change in images below.
The scientific answer is NO.
What actually happens is that the Angle of View changes.When the focal length of the lens changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length of the lens the wider the angle of view. The longer the focal length of the lens the narrower the angle of view.
Notice how neither the size of the barn nor the size of the glass changed. Only two variables changed: (1) The focal length (and simultaneously the angle of view)and (2) the distance between the subject and the camera.So the fact that the barn visually appears closer to the subject is not because perspective has gotten compressed but simply because in the viewfinder we see a smaller portion of it.
Here is a good visual example: Telephoto Perspective Compression.
Back to the original question again - Is telephoto compression Truth or Myth?
Let’s take a look from Creative and Magical perspective, and bring along the relativity theory:
From the point of view of the spectator, who is looking at a 2-dimensional image – the perspective was compressed and thus in my opinion the phenomenon is also TRUE.
Try applying this technique when you photograph people as well as still life and share your shots! What is your opinion on the telephoto compression theory? Do you use telephoto compression in your work? Can you post samples?