Distortion and Compression

Distortion and Compression

8 week online workshop
lesson 3
6. Which lens which focal length?

I created my own object today. I needed the 5 minutes to just be a kid anyway. So I painted some snow balls and stacked them. These I would use as my subject today. First I did the focal length activity and you could easily see the crop in the shots. Then I did the background controlled by focal length activity (pictures shown). You can see how the tree with the snow on it compresses as I zoomed in slightly.

Then I had some fun with the distortion challenge, the 3 year old only has so much patience though when it comes to making her do specific things for a picture. I could have made it much more distorted on her but she was pretty much over it by the time I was done experimenting with her.

Photo 1: focal length 18 f4.5 1/125ss ISO 800
Photo 2: Focal length 200 F5 1/640ss ISO 100
Photo 3: Focal length 100 F4.5 1/640ss ISO 100
Photo 4: Focal length 100 f4.5 SS1/640 ISO100 (this one is included because I decided not to share a 4th but it wouldn’t let me take it out haha!)

IMG_1801 IMG_1820 IMG_1821 IMG_1812

27 years old from Saint Paul MN (US). I have a 3 year old daughter, a son in heaven who would be 2, and 1 year old identical twin sons! I've been with my husband for 10 years but we've only been married since August 2013. I have always loved photography and just 5 months ago upgraded from my point n shoot to a canon t3 DSLR. I'm in love!


  1. And apparently I loaded the photos backwards. So actually it’s that you can see how the tree in the background uncompresses as I unzoom haha.

  2. Nice work. It’s great to be able to see a scene, decide what you want to achieve and make a conscious decision which lens/focal length to use to achieve it. Which of course what this topic was all about. Very creative use of paint and snowballs too 🙂
    With the play with distortion I know you said she was over it and not happy to play any more, but if you’d got in a lot closer to her the distortion would have been exaggerated a lot. And so next to lighting….

    • Thanks Robyn! I’m getting desperate for subjects and had to get clever haha! I see the next lesson is shorter so I’m going to take the extra time to go back over all the lessons this far and work some more on some of them. I want to really focus on being able to put all the elements together quickly each time I try to take a photo instead of literally going through a list in my head: “Settings – check. rule of thirds – check. Exposure – check. Framing – nah. Color – check. Distractions – none, etc.

      I had a photo that was much more distorted, but it was super out of focus and just no good so I didn’t bother with it. And I certainly couldn’t ask her to take any more photos today haha! I may try and do it again one day. Sometimes I think with kids it’s perfect and fun (like your example) and works for them depending on the situation. I can see how as a general rule, you wouldn’t want to do this to people haha.

      Thanks again Robyn, really really enjoying these!

      • Sorry to say the next lesson isn’t really shorter Samantha. I just put the last few topics into draft mode because I’m tweaking the content. They are not showing up now but there are 5 topics. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go back and review everything. You don’t need to start lesson 4 until you’re ready.

        • Haha go figure Robyn! It’s alright, I’ll still play around with things 🙂

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