Long lenses definitely have their place when photographing distant subjects. Mention wildlife or sports photography and one instantly thinks of enormous telephoto lenses capable of photographing insects from a distance of one mile. Sorry to disappoint, but there aren't many lenses with that level of magnification.This shot was taken in Richmond during a sand lot sporting event. Exposure was F 5.6, 1/2000 second, ISO 200. The lens, a 70-300 variable aperture lens, was set to 5.6 which is nearly wide open when the lens is set to 190mm, as it was in this photo. Megan, in the foreground, appears to be touching her brother Brandon, even though they are separated by a distance of nearly 3 feet.
Long Lens Perspective: Long lenses are believed to have a "flattening" effect, which is to say they bring the background closer to the foreground. I contend that it's the distance, not the lens, that creates the effect.
This final pair of shots was made at 16 feet. Again, the left shot was at 18mm, while the right was made with the lens at 200mm, the longest focal length available. Now the background is barely recognizable, and Kermit is clearly the focal point of the photo.
Foreshortening: Foreshortening occurs when the background is rendered smaller in size when compared to the main subject in the foreground. While it is obvious that distant objects should be smaller, it is easy to overlook problems associated with foreshortening, especially when working at short distances.
This problem is generally associated with wide angle lenses, since they are often used whenever it is necessary to photograph a wide subject at close range. This shot, made during San Francisco's Carnaval in 2011, shows a group of dancers standing on the street. I used a Vivitar 283 flash mounted on a monopod, triggered by an extension cable passing through a Wein Safe Sync. The exposure was 1/2000 at F 8.0, ISO 200, which gave me an image that was underexposed by one stop. Ooops. Click on the image for a closer look.
Of course, if we did everything perfectly 100% of the time, our lives would be totally boring. At least, that's what I'm telling you.