Making the Most of Focal Lengths and Ratios 14 December 2021   

NH 1Our presentation was by Nick Hanson who is a multi-award winning photographer from Scotland. Nick leads landscape workshops and tours and gave his presentation on Zoom from North Wales. Nick has been a photographer for 30 years and went professional in 2016.
Nick explained why it is important to compose your image in camera so that you do not crop off any of the image in post-production. Cropping loses pixels as shown in the illustration on the right which shows the cropped area is just 25 megapixels compared to 45 for the whole image. If you want high quality images that retain all the detail or large format prints then you need to compose the image in camera. The focal length and ratio of the image can be altered to give the desired image so then no cropping is needed.

Nh 3Using his landscape images Nick demonstrated how the choice of different lenses can change the appearance of what appears in the image and how the relationship between background and foreground can alter. A wide angle lens makes can give the appearance that makes the foreground appear more prominent. This works well for river and waterfall shots but beware of making rocks or other foreground objects appear overpowering. Use a larger focal length to zoom into the image to just include the area you want in your image without the need to crop afterwards. Check in the viewfinder before pressing the shutter.

NH 2Use the appropriate focal length to get the composition you have in your mind. The photographer needs to experiment as using a 15mm lens gives a very different image to a 200mm or larger.
Areas of ‘empty space’ that would need to be cropped should be avoided by choosing the correct lens or by changing the aspect ratio of the image. This can be done in camera by choosing vertical or horizontal, widescreen, panorama or even square images rather than stick to the usual 3x2 ratio. Panoramas can be taken with multiple images which are stitched together in post-production. Taking a series of vertical images avoids cropping empty sky and foreground.
Nick was thanked for showing a range of his superb landscape images and giving such a comprehensive presentation which covered a lot of ground.PM
Images © Nick Hanson    See Nick's website