Tag Archives: barrel distortion

Foresight Versus Serendipity

Lonely Path, Rolling Bluffs Near Fort Collins, Colorado, 2013

Lonely Path, Rolling Bluffs
Near Fort Collins, Colorado, 2013

If you look at this photograph and feel like it conveys a sense of motion, then you have made me very happy.  That’s really the point behind this photograph.

Look at the photograph closely, and you’ll see that there are a lot of curving lines in places where they really shouldn’t be.  The horizon, for example, which roughly coincides with the line of dark trees.  If you look at the left end of the line of trees, you’ll see that it curves upward pretty severely, where in reality it should be pretty flat.  If you look at each of the corners of the frame, you also may be able to see a similar, pronounced curvature.

The reason for this curvature is that I photographed this scene with a Canon 24-105 L lens close to its wide angle of 24mm.  Shooting at a wide angle like this introduces barrel distortion into the image, creating the curvature this image displays at the edges of the frame.  This kind of distortion can be easily corrected in digital editing after the fact, but for this image, I really liked the effect precisely because I felt like it created the sense of motion I’ve been talking about in this post.

Thing is, though, I really didn’t plan this ahead of time.  The reason I photographed at this wide angle was simply because I wanted to include all of the elements in this scene.  I really wasn’t thinking about the barrel distortion that would result, in fact, I completely forgot about it.  Its effect on the resulting image, therefore, wasn’t the result of foresight, but rather serendipity.

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