Photo Basics: Here’s How the Focal Length of a Lens Affects the Perspective of Your Photos (VIDEO)

It’s common knowledge that telephoto lenses enable you to get in tight on distant subjects, while wide-angle lenses do the opposite by providing a more expansive view of the scene you are photographing. But what about the interaction between focal length and perspective? This is a very important concept to understand.

Unlike magnification, the notion of perspective involves how a lens affects the way we perceive space, dimensionality and the depth of a photograph. While long lenses compress the apparent distance within an image, wide-angle lenses convey an exaggerated sense of distance and depth.

In the helpful tutorial below, photographer Radhakrishnan Chakyat provides a clear explanation of the theory of perspective, and demonstrates how to use this knowledge to convey exactly the effect you’re after, by choosing the proper lens for various situations. You’ll learn how lenses of different focal lengths alter the apparent height, distance, and other parameters of a scene, thus providing you with a wide range of perspectives from which to choose.

You can find more helpful tips on Chakyat’s YouTube channel, and be sure to look at an earlier tutorial of his we posted explaining how to find the “sweet spot” of every lens you own.