Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
:iconprojecteducate:
:iconprojecteducate:


Community Week

There is no “perfect” focal length for Street Photography



Many photographers are not a fan of using telephoto lenses in street photography. Generally they find telephoto lenses too impersonal, without the sense of intimacy that lenses with  focal lengths of 28mm-55mm (35mm and 50mm in particular) produce. The believe that these shorter focal lengths force you to get closer to your subject (sharing their human condition and feeling their environment).
However, if you analyze  the works of Leiter, whose street photography is shot with a relatively long lens you have to change your mind: he compresses his scenes creating a peculiar geometric vision
Here's what Leiter responds to
D.B.: Many of your images have a compressed spatial perspective. Was the telephoto your preferred lens?
Leiter: I liked different lenses for different times. I am fond of the telephoto lens, as I am of the normal 50 mm lens. I had at one point a 150 mm lens and I was very fond it. I liked what it did. I experimented a lot. Sometimes I worked with a lens that I had when I might have preferred another lens. I think Picasso once said that he wanted to use green in a painting but since he didn’t have it he used red. Perfection is not something I admire. [Laughs]. A touch of confusion is a desirable ingredient.


PF92830

Indeed, the telephoto lens, which compresses the image, has very interesting visual painterly qualities. The distance allows you to relax and compose more freely, without shooting blindly hoping to be lucky.
I will also report this anecdote in defense of a good use of a tele:
“In those days Henri Cartier-Bresson limited us to lenses from 35 mm to 90 mm. When I showed him the photos he said, ‘brilliant René!’ I went outside and shouted ‘Hah!’  He heard me and said ‘what was that?’ I said, ‘nothing, never mind’. The lens I used was 180 mm – I never told him! At that point I broke loose from my mentor. I killed my mentor!”

Copyright Rene Burri / Magnum Photos. BRAZIL. Sao Paulo. 1960.
Copyright Rene Burri / Magnum Photos. BRAZIL. Sao Paulo. 1960.
_____________

"People generally think of telephoto lenses as capturing less space than a wide angle lens for a given framing, but this isn’t totally true. If you’re framing your subject similarly, the compositional space you lose on the 2D plane, you can essentially regain on the Z axis. Meaning, since you have to stand further from your subject for equivalent framing, you get more space in between the camera and your subject to work with, space that so often goes unused. Although photography is a 2 dimensional medium (usually), that doesn’t mean the option to express yourself through the third dimension isn’t there. It just takes a little more work." Napier Lopez


The milk carton golfer. 90mm © Napier Lopez


  • Shooting candid: with a telephoto lens you can take pictures without getting noticed
  • The artistic element you may add to your pics due to the background flattening effect of telephoto lenses
  • Z-Axis and perspective.
  • You are not losing the intimacy and the human element just by using a telephoto lens
________________________________

Ultimately: there is no “perfect” focal length for Street Photography: the best lens for Street Photography is the lens you have on you. An artwork doesn’t need to be defined by the tools you used to get that result, it should be defined by the end result.



**********************************************
Waiting by thelizardking25
Waiting by thelizardking25
Film: Ilford Delta 400
Camera: Leica M4
Lens: Leitz Tele-Elmarit 90mm @ f2.8



Matrix by Batsceba
Matrix by Batsceba
Focal Length 105 mm



Stir up The Depths by WaterboyBHS
Stir up The Depths by WaterboyBHS
Focal Length 145 mm



Confinement by Draken413o
Confinement by Draken413o
Focal Length 155 mm



into the distance by cei-
Focal Length 190 mm



almost there. by thephotogenesis
almost there. by thephotogenesis
Focal Length 200 mm



Wanderer by Zaqari
Wanderer by Zaqari
Focal Length 200 mm




Break the Serenity by Draken413o
Set Me Freeby edsheadsaid    telephoto lens                   Break the Serenity © Jonathan Danker 106mm

References:

cameraplex.com/200mm-a-case-fo…
saul-leiter
rene-burri-interviews
in-defense-of-telephoto-lenses-for-street-photography

Add a Comment:
 
:iconollie2008:
ollie2008 Featured By Owner Edited Oct 21, 2016  Hobbyist Photographer
Interesting and informative Batsceba. Thanks.
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2016   Photographer
you are welcome, thanks for your comment
Reply
:iconjacac:
JACAC Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2015
:clap::clap::clap::clap:
f i n a l y !!!!!
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015   Photographer
:D :D :D
Reply
:iconjacac:
JACAC Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015
Happy dance! -Markiplier Free2use 
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015   Photographer
hahahah
Reply
:iconjacac:
JACAC Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015
g l a d . y o u . a r e . h a p p y . =)
i t ' s . f r i d a y =)=)
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015   Photographer
yep and I'm in love ;)
Reply
:iconjacac:
JACAC Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015
y o u . a r e ???
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015   Photographer
:nana:
Reply
(1 Reply)
:icontimothy-sim:
Timothy-Sim Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2015  Professional Photographer
True! Anything to break the rules that originally defined and caged us. Well written :)
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2015   Photographer
:bow: thanks for your comment :)
Reply
:iconjules-101:
jules-101 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
Great Feature again, Bats! :clap: :heart:
Short lens versus telephoto lens- Someday maybe I'll get back to you on that one :D
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:D ok!
Reply
:iconjules-101:
jules-101 Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
:D ok!
Reply
:iconpearwood:
pearwood Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
The first time I photographed a person with a 300mm lens it hit me that this opened a basketful of ethical questions I hadn't had to consider with a short lens.
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:D  thanks for your comment :huggle:
Reply
:iconchriseastmids:
chriseastmids Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
wonderful feature :clap::clap::clap:
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:bow:
Reply
:iconcallme-ismael:
Callme-Ismael Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015   Artist
...i also always thought that it would be somekind of rule doing streetphotography, but... i also did use a telelens back than, whan i was doing some street-photos :D

il fine giustifica i mezzi
;)
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
;) :blackrose:
Reply
:iconmarkotxe:
Markotxe Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
of course Bats! I use every lense fron 17 to 200 mm, and each image has its quality
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:)
Reply
:iconsags:
sags Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015
Opps ! forgot this is the shot ... What is Happening II by sags
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:D
Reply
:iconsags:
sags Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2015
How about this 258 mm

AND they eventually spotted me from across the Harbour !
Reply
:iconbatsceba:
Batsceba Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2015   Photographer
:D thanks :huggle:
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconbatsceba: More from Batsceba


Featured in Collections

About Street Photography by hosagu


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
October 21, 2015
Submitted with
Sta.sh Writer
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
1,822
Favourites
25 (who?)
Comments
28
×