The Lack Of A Lens

dscf7395This isn’t a first-world problem. It’s a photographic world problem, and it is one we could have solved at one time if we hadn’t been so darn clever.

The basic thing is our need for building sides to remain vertical when we photograph them. Apart from the Egyptian pyramids, the Tower of Pisa, and Gaudi’s architecture, every building starts out standing straight and our eyes know this instinctively. And then we lie to ourselves.

The cameras we use do not lie. When we point them up to capture a tall building, as soon as the sensor tilts up, the sides of the pile tilt in. We see a distorted picture in the viewfinder and ignore it. Then we see it on the LCD and ignore it. When it finally hits the computer and the eye of a client, ignorance fades and we are confronted with an unusable picture.

The view of Government House in the heading isn’t too bad – I went back far enough to keep the camera vertical and the get the flag in the frame. Any taller and it would have had to be sacrificed to the architectural view.

The answer in the plate camera day was the tilting or rising lens. You kept the camera upright on a tripod, manipulated the lens, and plastered it all on the plate. A few makers produce lenses now for large digital cameras that replicate this motion* and do exactly as the old ones did, but the mirror-less mob have been cut out of the equation.

We’re the wave of the future to some extent, and it is astonishing that the major makers of mirror-less have not yet produced dedicated tilt and shift lenses. High time, gentlemen – our money is waiting for you to claim it.

  • And the latest evocation of it will set you back $ 4000 AUD. Hint: spend someone else’s money…

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