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As a child, I was always intrigued and enchanted looking through a telescope or binoculars. I found the altered view of the world around me endlessly fascinating. Not just simple magnification, but also a not-too-subtle alteration of view that produced a compelling “compression” of the perspective of the subjects I regarded.

Objects quite far apart tend to be “stacked” closer together, yielding a very picturesque layered feel to the scene. As I became interested in photography, and began to see my world through the camera lenses, I gravitated to a preference for a quite wide angle, or a very long telephoto view.

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For the really exaggerated results, we need to use lenses that have very long focal lengths, for example 400mm up to 800mm (and/or above if you can afford it). I was able to pick up a very good, very affordable 600mm equivalent lens which I love to take out and use to present a different picture of the world.

Here’s an example, shot at the very bottom of Lonsdale Ave, looking north. The pedestrians you see crossing the road are at 2nd Ave, the cars stopped at 3rd. The traffic lights at the top are at 7th St. As you can see, the lens’ 12X magnification factor compresses the streets together, making the hill look far less daunting than it is in real life.

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In this image of looking past the end of the pier toward Canada Place, we see Burrard Inlet as a narrow body of water.

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And here, the telescopic effect makes the SeaBus rounding the aft of the freighter, look much larger than it actually is in true comparison.

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Look at how close the telephoto lens pulls in background sulphur piles and wood chips, making them seem very close to the passing SeaBus.

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These long lenses are also wonderful for getting closeups of quite far away objects. Which, of course, is why the paparazzi use them so effectively.

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Finally, the long telephoto can’t be beat for isolating a subject against a simple, out-of-focus background. In this case, the background is the under construction condos at the base of St. Georges… not a pretty sight, but that lovely defocussed way the lens draws it works to pop the leaves out.

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Interesting how a change of perspective can give you a new eye on your neighbourhood!


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