Sunday, 31 January 2010



Following my search for spectacular Barcelona photos taken with tele lenses I remembered one image standing out. There was a picture shot by Antonio Espejo using a colossal tele.


Espejo worked many years as El Pais staff photographer and, as Alguersuari, came from the Sports Photography field; because of this he was an expert in taking the maximum advantage from long distance lenses. Antonio was working in a book titled “Barcelona de bat a bat” for Lunwerg editors. Nikon and Canon professional’s services lend special equipment, during a limited period of time, to the photographers members of their professionals clubs. Espejo got a real “monster”: a Canon 1.200 mm. tele lens. In the image, taken from the steps below the MNAC (Catalonia’s Art Nacional Museum) you can see the Venetian Towers, the central monument and the Plaza hotel clock, all in Plaza España, and Joan Miró’s sculpture “La Dona i l’Ocell” (The Woman and the Bird). To all who know Barcelona , the image is surprising. All is together in the same plane. For those who don’t know Barcelona so well I looked for the distances in a city map. The Miró sculpture is…400 meters away from the Venetians Towers! But, due to tele lenses effect (the greatest the focal distance the greatest the effect) of flattening all the planes, the final result is simply amazing.

The tele lens used was of 1.200 mm. The so called “normal lenses” (similar to the human view) are the 50 mm, so in this case Espejo took the photo with a lens with a focal length that is twenty four times the 50 mm !I decided to take the same photograph using different lenses. I live very close to Plaza España so I took my tripod, my D80 Nikon and a bag full of lenses and climbed the steps that go from Plaza España to the MNAC. You have an exceptional Barcelona view from there that I have used in many occasions. And those are the results. I used three Nikon lenses: a 18-70 zoom, a 180 f:2,8 and a 300 f:4. In the captions I multiply the focal lengths by the 1,5 digital conversion factor to compare them with Antonio Espejo’s 1.200 mm lens.

NIKKOR 105 mm

NIKKOR 270 mm

NIKKOR 450 mm



Antonio Espejo needed to solve several technical problems to get his photo. A tele lens of such a long focal length needed to be shot using a high shutter speed or fixed to an extremely sturdy tripod. Espejo told me that he got a 15 kilos tripod from the Canon Professional Service. The second challenge was to get all the planes sharp, a greath DEPTH OF FIELD known as the distance between the farthest and closest sharp elements in the picture in relationship with the point we focus. Depth of field depends of three factors that can be controlled by a photographer who works in manual mode:
1) F-number. The smallest the f-number (less light entering through the lens) the longer will be the depth of field.
2) Lenses focal length. The longest the focal length the shorter will be the depth of field and vice-versa.
3) The distance. The distance between the camera and what we want to photograph. The longest the distance the longer will be the depth of field and vice-versa.
To get all the planes sharp in the image Espejo had two fixed variables, one positive and one negative. The positive one was that the distance of the subjects in the photo was very big. The first elements appearing, the Venetian Towers, were about 700 meters from the point the camera was, as I calculated on a Barcelona map. The negative and fixed variable was that the 1.200 mm focal length was very big.
Antonio could only play with the third variable left: the number f. Usually he should had used the smallest f-number and the correlative slow shutter speed allowing the right amount of light needed to get the right exposure. But there was a problem as Antonio told me:” I couldn’t use a slow shutter speed because, in spite of having the camera on the tripod, the focal length was so huge that the photo would be blurred, so I have to use a middle f-number and a pretty high shutter speed with Velvia 50 ASA slide film".
The photo was taken on a sunny day (a must to get this result) at 14h 8 minutes (Guess how I know that?).
The final result was fantastic. Chapeau Antonio!

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