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Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 39 of 50

Lenses and Perspective


Mastering Photographic Composition and Visual Storytelling

Lesson 39 of 50

Lenses and Perspective


Lesson Info

Lenses and Perspective

there's a common misnomer that lenses affect Perspective is not true. Altering focal length causes changes in the gestalt figure and ground relationship because of distortion or angle of view. Is the objects in the scene that a changing, which means lenses, effect perceived reality. But they don't directly affect perspective. Now, using a set of images of this statue shot at varying focal lengths, let me show you what's happening in the figure ground relationship and how our mind is interpreting the data it receives. This first images shot with a 50 millimeters standard lens, which is the lens that has the angle of view closest to human vision. Note the size of the main subject, which is our figure in the figure ground relationship and the size of the objects in the background, which form the ground. Now I'm going to change to a wider focal length, and I'm going to move closer to the subject to maintain its size in the frame. Look what's happened to the objects in the background. They'...

ve become smaller on because they're smaller. Our mind perceived them as being further away. This is the reason wide angle lenses are said to expand space they don't down mind interprets smaller background objects as meaning more space. This is distortion. Now I'm going to switch to telephoto, and this time I'm going to move further back again to keep the subject the same size in the frame. Look what happens to the background This time. The objects are again distorted, appearing larger on because they seem larger. Our mind perceives them as being closer again. This is distortion. Telephoto lenses are said to compress space again. This isn't the case. It's our mind that's interpreting larger background objects as being closer. Now let's see what happens when I repeat the exercise. But this time I stay put, keeping the same camera to subject distance. Notice how the figure ground relationship remains exactly the same in that the objects in the background are the same size. In each scene, there is no distortion. But look at how the amount of ground changes compared to the standard lens. The wide angle has included more ground on the telly photo less in this example, altering focal length has changed angle of view to include more or less of the scene. In other words, focal length simply affects the crop lenses have no direct effect on perspective. Perspective changes only when the photographer changes position and camera angle relative to the subject, you change perspective lenses don't no.

Class Description



  • Compose a shot consistently and effectively
  • Create artistic, powerful images quickly
  • Gain confidence in building narrative
  • Identify what stories you’re drawn to photograph
  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative shots
  • Trust your instincts when approaching a subject


CreativeLive is partnering with Chris Weston to offer you his Complete Photography Master Course. This is the second class in the series.

Today, everybody has a camera, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s a photographer. Chris Weston will show you how to do all the other stuff – how to “see” an image, tap into your creativity, and compose a photograph that makes the subject look as good in print as it does in real life.

This class isn’t about cameras, it’s about you – the photographer. It will break free your creative mind, get you thinking about narrative rather than object, and show you how to apply simple artistic skills that turn that next click into a powerful photograph.

Learn how to approach photography like a pro and start creating great pictures straight away. With in-the-field lessons, case studies and powerful tips and techniques, you’ll quickly unleash your creativity and gain confidence in expressing yourself through your camera.


  • Beginner photographers
  • First time DSLR or mirrorless camera users
  • Any photographer who wants to hone their artistic skills


Named one of the world's most influential wildlife photographers, Chris Weston takes a contemporary approach to photography. After launching his career in 2001, the Fujifilm ambassador's images have graced the pages of top publications like BBC, The Times, Outdoor Photography, Practical Photography, and Digital Photography. As a photography educator, Chris has written over 20 photography books, along with leading photo tours and online workshops.


Silvia Garcia

Excellent ! Will see it many times to digest all the messages here. Important info on composition theory. Very well explained. Go to the essence of photography. Thanks, Chris !

a Creativelive Student

Absolute must to watch! Perhaps few times, as is packed with all the information you need to know to make your photography to the next level. I think it is the most comprehensive class on composition. Fantastic!


fabulous course no matter how advanced you are.. LEarned so much from it. I'll watch it again as it contains so much.