Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/01/02

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Subject: [Leica] Wide angle
From: ricc at (Ric Carter)
Date: Sat, 2 Jan 2010 17:51:35 -0500
References: <>

I think you are right on much of this, but the ultrawide is most useful and 
natural for pushing subjects further away from the camera, not closer.

It should be used for adding space, not subtracting it.

what you are speaking of could perhaps better be called "abuse of the 
ultrawide perspective"


On Jan 2, 2010, at 5:14 PM, Lawrence Zeitlin wrote:
> Why are ultra wide angle lenses becoming so popular?
> In 1966, Edward Hall wrote, in "The Hidden Dimension," that  people space
> themselves at a distance that is appropriate to the degree of relationship
> to the "other." People interact at a greater distance from strangers than
> with friends and at a greater distance from friends than with lovers. There
> are very specific visual cues for each distance. With strangers, the
> distance, usually about two arm's length, does not emphasize small aspects
> of appearance and there is little perspective distortion. Sort of like 
> using
> the often recommended 90 mm lens on a 35 mm camera to shoot portraits. At
> the closer friendship distance, say about one arm's length, there is a
> moderate visual distortion. The nose of a person looking toward you appears
> slightly magnified compared to the ears. Perhaps equivalent to the 50 mm
> lens perspective on your film Leica when shooting portraits. At the 
> intimate
> distance, less than 18 inches, there is considerable visual distortion. The
> nose appears much larger than the ears and the face fills most of the 
> visual
> field. We grow accustomed to these visual effects and often use them to
> gauge the degree of relationship between people from photos.
> A few years ago there was a spate of TV commercials shot at ultra close
> distances for hawking personal use products. I guess the producers read
> Hall's book and concluded that you would believe an intimate friend rather
> than a make believe doctor in a white coat filmed at the formal distance.
> There is a reciprocal aspect to this relationship, often triggered by the
> visual cues. If we are forced into anintimate distance by seating
> accommodations or by crowding, such as close seating in an airplane or at a
> bar, we soon act as if  the relationship was appropriate to the distance.
> Thus we may hear or tell of personal life stories to seat mates or bar
> buddies that would never come up in casual conversation between strangers.
> The tortured mental logic is as follows:
> 1. The visual cues tell me that I am within the intimate distance from this
> stranger.
> 2. I would never get this close to a casual acquaintance therefore he is my
> friend.
> 3. Since we are on intimate terms, I can confide my personal secrets.
> Needless to say, this bond is broken when the plane lands and the distance
> increases.
> In photographic terms ultra wide angle lenses, especially in close ups,
> create the same form of visual distortion as personal spacing at the
> intimate distance. Pictures taken with these lenses have the same sort of
> psychological relevance as sitting close to a stranger.They are attention
> grabbing because of the pseudo intimacy. But ultimately these pictures are
> disturbing because we realize that we are being fooled. Our attention has
> been hijacked, not by the pictorial content, but by the illusion of 
> personal
> relevance. As we become accustomed to the visual trickery the effect
> lessens. That's why the TV commercials lost favor.
> Ultra wide angle lenses depict a travesty of life. Ultimately we will all
> return to sanity and use normal lenses. Even the top people.
> Larry Z
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

Replies: Reply from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Wide angle)
Reply from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Wide angle)
In reply to: Message from lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin) ([Leica] Wide angle)