Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Cinema Workshop

Article excerpt

LENS PERSPECTIVE

When are things really in their proper perspective? In general, this question rarely has a concrete answer - except where photography is concerned. Simply stated, a photograph or projected image is being viewed in proper perspective when the viewer is at the center of perspective where all objects in the picture are in proportion to the original scene as it appeared from the position of the camera lens.

Scenes that are relatively two-dimensional with little depth can be viewed from almost any distance and look reasonably accurate. However, scenes with great depth will appear grossly out of proportion when viewed from other than the center of perspective. For example, when viewed from beyond the center of perspective, foreground objects appear disproportionately large and depth is exaggerated. An object moving either toward or away from the lens will appear to be moving at a greater than normal speed, and objects aligned axially with the lens will seem elongated and distorted. When viewed from less than the center of perspective, the exact opposite occurs. Axial motion appears slower than normal, axial dimensions seem compressed and distorted and there is a general foreshortening of depth.

Most of these phenomena are familiar and sometimes referred to respectively as wide-angle distortion or the telephoto effect. However, there really is no "distortion" or "effect", per se. Actually the center of perspective is moving back and forth within the theatre, depending upon the focal length of the lens used on the camera. …

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