I recently posted a photograph of Kuenselphodrang’s Buddha Dordenma on this Blog, with a snow-clad mountain looming large behind the statue. Some viewers I am told is of the view that I did some digital darkroom magic, to render the image in the form and state that it was presented in.
The image that is the subject of discussion
This is not true --- I assure you that no post-shoot manipulation is involved. I am not trying to counter the criticism - but I feel that here is an opportunity to give the viewers some tips on photography.
I used a super telephoto lens to produce this imposing image. In simple terms, the primary purpose of the telephoto lens is to project the objects/subjects closer than they really are. The mountains are there behind the statue --- but the eyes see them far away from the statue, which they are. In addition to using a telephoto lens to pull the mountains closer to the statue, I spent time (2 days) hunting for a location that aligns the statue bang in front of the mountains that I want to use as a backdrop. But finding the mountains to use as a backdrop is not the end …. I also need a location that has the right level/height from where to shoot the frame that I had already composed in my mind. As a trained photographer I can see in the eyes of my mind how I can dramatize a certain scene - using different elements that are already available in nature. I just need to put together the right tools and situations to bring it all together - to produce an image that most believe is impossible.
As you can see from the image below of Paro Taa Dzong, even that mountain behind the structure is nowhere as close as you see in the image. Here too I used a telephoto lens to draw in the mountain in the back, so that it is seen towering imposingly over the Dzong.
The magic of telephoto lens - you cannot see this scene with your naked eyes
But mind you, telephoto lenses are not always used for distant images and to draw in the background closer to the subject. In the following image of a lady in Rangjung, Trashigang, I used the telephoto lens for just the opposite purpose - to throw off the background. I used the lens’ elements to create what is called a shallow "depth-of-field”. The lens’ inherent capabilities helped me separate the subject from the background. You notice that the background is totally blurred and out of focus … while in the images of the Buddha and the Dzong, I used the lens to render the background sharper and closer to the subject.
In the following photo the green curtain-like background is actually the lady's paddy field where she was engaged in transplanting paddy. But through the combination of proper selection of lens' aperture and physical positioning of myself just the right distance away from the subject, I managed to turn the paddy field into a smooth, glossy backdrop of green infused with a swathe of grey.
The use of telephoto lens to create a shallow depth of field