Perspective Distortion Effects Planned or Accidental

Perspective Distortion

Perspective distortion is the alteration or distortion of a subject and the area that surrounds it that is significantly different from what the subject would look like when viewed using a more typical focal length, because of a comparative scale of close and far off attributes and when the viewing angle of the photo (as acquired) was either narrower or wider than the viewing angle at which the resulting picture is observed, hence the visible relative distances being different from what is anticipate. Perspective distortion is swayed by the correlation between two distinct factors: the viewing angle at which the photo is acquired by the photographer and the viewing angle at which the subject photo is offered or viewed.

Perspective Distorted FaceWhen photos are observed at normal viewing distances, the viewing angle at which the picture was acquired completely accounts for the manifestation of any perspective distortion. The notion of "un-doctored" photos generally being unable to distort a subject is inaccurate.

Perspective distortion is especially noticeable in portrait images shot using wide-angle lenses with very little camera-to-subject distance. Most often they provide a distasteful parody, allowing the nose to appear too large in relation to the other parts of the face, while even deforming the facial expression. Using a long focus or moderate telephoto or lens (with a subsequent narrow viewing angle) to identically frame the same subject evens out the picture to a more becoming perception. For this very reason, 35mm camera lenses having focal lengths ranging around 85 thru 135 mm (APS-C lens equivalent 55 thru 90mm lenses) are most often thought of as good portrait lenses. On the other hand, using lenses with substantially longer focal lengths to shoot portraits concludes in more severe annihilation of facial features, possibly becoming more objectionable to the onlooker.

Viewing Distance from the Photograph

Images are typically observed at a distance somewhat identical to their diagonal. Looking at images from this distance, any effects of distortion created by the viewing angle of the acquisition are readily apparent. Although, theoretically, if photos demonstrating extension distortion (wide angle) are viewed at a nearer distance, As a consequence widening the viewing angle of the composition, then the phenomenon goes away. In the same way, viewing photos demonstrating compression distortion (telephoto) from an extended distance, As a consequence narrowing the viewing angle of the presentation, diminishes the effect. In either situation, at some crucial distance, the perceived distortion completely disappears. Therefore perspective distortion happens as the perceived space from the onlooker to each and every object (or portion of an object) within a composition becomes different at an unvarying relative rate.

Absolute and Relative Distances

An object's absolute location from the onlooker is its factual distance away in a particular unit of linear measurement. It's relative space from the onlooker is its distance as compared to some other object as articulated by a percentage or ratio. For instance, you have a pair of identical statues made of stone, one being 30 feet from you in a fixed distance although the other one is 3 feet beyond at 33 feet from your position. The relative space of the far off object from the near object becomes a 11/10 ratio or 10% farther removed.

Now walk toward the stone statues until you become only 3 feet away from the nearest one you'll be 6 feet away from the farthest one in absolute distance. Although, it will be now double the distance from you as is the other one in relative remoteness, a 2/1 ratio or 100% farther off. The closer statue will have increased in size within your vision field at a quicker tempo than the farther away statue while the farther away statue will now seem to be twice the distance away. What's going on here is normal perspective without any distortion taking place.

Compression Perspective Distortion (telephoto)

Conversely, if you remain 30 feet distance from the closer statue and shoot a image using your telephoto lens (or just crop and enlarge an image acquired using a regular lens, or just view it using a telescope) allowing the stone statue that is 30 feet away looks as if it's only 3 feet away, therefore the relative distance away from the other stone statue from it will seem unchanged using a 11/10 ratio or just 10% additional distance. In other words, using a telephoto lens, the closer statue seems as though it's only 3 feet away, the more distant statue will seem to be only 3 feet, 3 inches away. The closer and more distant statues will have increased in size in your vision field at the identical rate. Now, perspective distortion is happening. The pair of statues that are actually 3 feet apart seem to be only 3 inches apart.

Extension Perspective Distortion (wide-angle)

On the other hand, if you actually move in to within 3 feet from the closer statue and shoot an image using your wide-angle lens makes it seem as if it were 6 feet away, once more the relative space between the pair will seem unchanged at a 2/1 ratio , or 100% more distance away. Therefore, looking into your wide-angle lens, makes the nearer statue seem as if it were 6 feet away (even though it's actually 3 feet away), the far off statue will seem to be 12 feet away. The closer and more distant statues will have become smaller within your field of view at the identical rate. Once more perspective distortion is happening. The pair of statues that are actually 3 feet apart seem to be 6 feet apart. Since perspective distortion only happens one direction, being a radius extending from the point of view to every portion of the photo, it can also seem to alter the shape of subjects, as each subject seems compressed or extended only in a single direction.

Photography Examples

Shown below, are a series of pictures showing the identical scene captured from the same angle and position using three unique lenses: a wide-angle, a normal lens, plus a telephoto lens.

Notice in the first picture that the wider angle presents the metal edifice as being a farther distance than it really is, however due to the correlation between its actual size and the trees in back of remains unchanged, has also allowed the trees to appear more distant from the edifice than they really are.

The second picture is most accurate interpretation of the setting as it actually was. In the third picture, due to the narrower viewing angle of your telephoto lens, the metal edifice not only seems nearer than it is in reality, now the background trees also appear nearer to it. Had the photographer actually gotten closer to the mesh, then its resulting image would have increased to fill the scene quite a lot faster than the background trees enlarged. The dissimilarity is most noticeable between the first and third pictures, in which the space between the edifice and the trees seem totally different

An example of how angle of view affects perspective distortion. The photos below
were captured using a 35mm camera with an identical distance from the subject
Nikon 18-55mm at 12mm Nikon 55-200 at 27mm Nikon 55-200 at 55mm
12mm lens 28mm lens 55mm lens

Shown next, are a series of images with an object framed nearly as identical as feasible using four dissimilar lenses. As a consequence of the different viewing angle of each lens, it was necessary for the photographer to move closer to the subject with each successive image. Notice how the angle of view significantly differs (compared to the background of each image), while the distance in between the objects seems increased with each successive image. In the last picture at the bottom right, shot using the widest lens, a building directly behind the object seems much more distant than it is in reality.

shed-28mm shed-55mm
28mm Lens, 55mm Lens
Shed 70mm shed-100mm
70mm Lens 100mm Lens

Photos taken using a 35 mm camera with a 28mm 55mm, a 70mm, and a 100mm lens, at different distances from the subject. Notice how the second shed keeps growing larger.

This process has relationship to the in-camera unique consequence known as a dolly zoom, where a zoom lens zips out at the exact same instance the camera moves into the subject, in a unique manner as to preserve the subject in the identical size within the frame as the background size "changes" in relationship to the subject. This unique effect was made fashionable in the "Jaws' film. An additional example is seen in the initial Lord of the Rings movie, just prior to the Black Rider coming down the road. This dolly zoom is employed to generate a compression appearance on the road.

Artistic Uses

Compression Distortion

Even though perspective distortion is typically aggravating when not intended, it is also used on purpose for artistic situations. Extension distortion (wide angle) is frequently used to highlight some scene element by having it seem larger and spatially distant from the other scene elements. Compression distortion (telephoto) is frequently used to imply the feeling of compressed space among distant objects, like automobiles pr buildings as a way of conveying a congestion feeling.

Extension Distortion

The photo of the gondolas above is an illustration of using extension distortion

updated article Oct 5, 2011

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