February 23, 2013


The V43 Gang

Can you tell me the story of the photo above? The main subjects here are the people and their reflections but why are they so small. They seem to be secondary objects only to this vast open beach. The foreground is mainly empty and there's also a lot of sky. If you're curious I used the M. Zuiko 12mm f/2 here, wide at 24mm equivalent. I should have gotten close to my main subject (the people and reflections) with the 12mm or better yet I should have used a telephoto to compress my subjects and be more clear with my photographic story telling.

Not so long ago I was told there are two perspectives, wide and telephoto. There is also normal (somewhere in the middle of wide and tele) but depending on how you use your foreground and background a normal lens can render as either. Wides are all about the emphasis of foreground. Things placed closer to the camera will be emphasized over things further away. Like in the photo above, the sand in the foreground is emphasized because it is closest to the camera. The closer the subject and the wider the lens the more extreme this emphasis becomes. One of the tricks to using a wide is to get close, NOT to get everything in or to get more in. Telephotos on the other hand de-emphasize the relationship between foreground and background, they will look relatively about the same size. You use a telephoto to get a compressed effect, to separate your subject from background using focus planes rather than because you want to get closer. Understanding perspectives is one of the fundamental tools of photographic story telling. This is important because it lets you dictate to the viewer how important the subject is.

Let's look at a few examples.

A wide entrance

This scene gave me a hard time. I guess that's what happens when you analyze things too much. This is why practicing is important (of course practicing the right things) so it becomes second nature. This alley was not going away but it still stumped me. I know what kind of perspective to use but I could not figure out how to best compose the subjects (sign and lamps). I should have done a vertical frame or perhaps framed more to the right.

Here is one of my submissions for this assignment:

Perspective and shadows

Here is Ming's critique:

"The perspective doesn't immediately register because there's no real foreground; the whole building is far away enough to be considered mid ground, and the sky is the background. Nice light here, though it actually creates the effect of having an artificial foreground (the shaded portion). I'd have included more of the base of the building though - there's a lot of sky compared to the shadow area and the balance is slightly off."

Rock commutes

This works better for a wide perspective. It is clear that the static rock is the main subject (fg), the lady with bag (mg) and station (bg) are supporting objects in the frame that provide context to the scene. I wish the rock did not blend well with the floor. It would have been better and plus I got too close to the rock I cut the shadow.

Here is my 2nd submission for this assignment:


Ming's feedback:

"Quality of light is good overall; there's nice depth and definition given by the shadows, and all of the girders look about the same size, giving the impression of complexity and layering - so the perspective is working. Also good to see that there are no dead spaces or edge intrusions."

Next time you go out on a photography walk or shutter therapy try playing with perspectives. Use a wide to emphasize your subject and use a tele if you want to de-emphasize the relationship between your foreground and background. It's a lot of fun.

My next assignment is about "Fitting the frame to subject and vice versa". If you're interested, the project I'm doing is with Ming Thein's Email School of Photography. I decided to embark in this journey because I want to improve. I felt like I've reached an impasse in my photographic abilities. One of my photographic resolutions was to make the best of what I have so instead of buying new gear, like the M. Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, I decided to invest in learning more.

Stay tuned and below are a couple more that I took while doing the assignment.

Leaving alone



  1. Interesting and informative decomposition of your photographs Eugene. I enjoyed this post. Thanks for taking the time to put it all together.

    1. You're welcome. Thanks for dropping by and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. I really enjoyed your detailed breakdown of each photo! Ming's blog is fantastic and I'm really happy to hear that you've been able to hold off on the G.A.S and put it towards shooting instead! I think it's a fantastic idea and you've been capturing some really interesting shots (that I would probably just have walked by). Keep it up and I'll definitely be following your project to learn more!

    1. Thank you Tyler. I have to agree fully that Ming's blog is fantastic and I will probably go further by saying it's probably the best out there in the photography blogging category. He doesn't only review but is also very generous in sharing photography tips and techniques. This is why I decided to do his Email School of Photography. He is doing US workshops soon (SF and NY) but the NY is full (taking standby) and 2 slots I believe that are still open in the SF one.

      Anyway, this is why I decided to blog about my assignments/experience because like Ming I also want to share my learnings and thoughts about photography and hopefully it will prove beneficial to the photography crowd/world.

  3. Wonderful article Eugene! Thanks for Sharing. Eric Hanson.

  4. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh so cool !!!

  5. Have been following Ming's blog for awhile now. In fact, thats how I come across a link of yours as he is your Sifu now, I think ! You guys are great !

    1. I think I started following Ming since the start of 2013. Thank you!