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Expressing the perspective with a standard lens

A standard lens is capable of capturing images that look close by with a natural perspective and bokeh effect. Here, I would like to explain the method of creating and expressing compositions that are available only with a standard lens. (Reported by: Mutsumi Ishibashi)


The composition capability of a standard lens is important

This is a shot taken with an EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM. This type of lens is suitable for reproducing simple images, and is characterised by its ability to capture landscapes from a normal perspective. In other words, it is not suitable for reproducing striking images. Therefore, a complete composition is desired with the use of a zoom lens with a standard angle of view. If the composition is stable, a picture can be taken that, in addition to its realism, can even let you imagine the areas not shown in the photograph.

For example, the photo of a forest floor is shown below covered in lingering snow at the rear with a cluster of beech trees distributed evenly. With this composition, it managed to express a sense of springtime as well as of a refreshing atmosphere.

EOS 5D Mark III/EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM/FL: 50mm/ Manual exposure(1/15sec., f/13)/ISO 200/WB:Daylight

A beech forest in Fukushima Prefecture. A forest captured in springtime with lingering snow visible between the trees and amidst the soft, green beech leaves.


EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM

This 24-70mm lens is capable of covering the wide-angle range up to a slightly telephoto range. With a minimum shooting distance of up to 0.2 m, its ability to capture close-up shots is ground-breaking. With an overall length of 93 mm and a weight of 600 g, it is relatively compact and easy to handle. It is a lens that you can rely on to achieve a fine image quality.

Click here to see details of the EF24-70mm f/4L IS USM


Spread trees out evenly

The important thing to note when shooting a forest is to depict the composition with the cluster of trees distributed evenly throughout. To do so, there have to be some trees that stand out in the foreground, middle ground and background. Look for an angle in which these trees do not overlap one another. If the lingering snow can also be captured in the shot, a sense of the season can be evoked.

Making the main subject stand out without over-emphasising other subjects

How do you develop an eye for finding motifs when you enter a forest? You can do so by learning more about the forest that you will be visiting. By getting to know the environment of the forest that you are trying to shoot, the subjects that you want to capture will naturally be defined as well. Upon reaching the shooting location, you should first understand the characteristics that make up the landscape at that spot. By doing so, you will easily be able to find the subject to shoot. The theme of the example above is a representation of a summer-green forest in springtime. Look for a location with a complete forest physiognomy and set up your camera in a spot where the trees do not overlap one another.

Shot at 17 mm, this example depicts a beautiful forest of Mizunara oak trees with a luxuriant growth of dwarf bamboo on the forest floor. Depending on the lens selected, the representation will differ when shooting such a forest. In the example shot at 17 mm using a wide-angle zoom lens, the growth of the forest is expressed by emphasizing the dwarf bamboo on the forest floor. In the example shot at 45 mm using a standard zoom lens, the focus is placed on depicting the forest physiognomy. A sense of distance is expressed by creating a composition that arranges prominent trees evenly throughout the screen in the foreground, middle ground and background.

Shot at 17 mm

Create a composition that emphasizes the foreground when shooting with a wide-angle lens. In this picture here, the leaves of the dwarf bamboo are placed in the foreground. A sense of scale can also be created by further incorporating the forest physiognomy in the distance.

Shot at 47 mm

Taking photographs with a standard lens is best for shooting landscapes with a straightforward visual angle. The key lies in depicting a composition that arranges the cluster of trees without creating unnecessary space within the angle of view.

Mutsumi Ishibashi

Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1947. From his late teens, Ishibashi walked throughout Japan with the aim of getting to know the natural landscape of the country. At around 1975, he started to narrow his focus on the natural landscape of the Tohoku region. Since then, he has made it his life’s work to reproduce the natural beauty cultivated by the humid conditions that are unique to Japan.