I've always been mildly annoyed by real estate photos which show rooms to appear larger than they are in reality.

It's a tricky thing though because the only way to squeeze as much of a room into one photo as possible is to use a wide angle lens. Bathrooms are a classic example of where a wide angle is necessary or all you'll see in the photo is the toilet seat.

I'm sure real estate agents love that these wide angles make rooms appear larger but I can't help but feel that a potential buyer or renter will be disappointed when they actually walk into the room and discover it's not as roomy as they were led to believe.

I was shooting a commercial property yesterday and while I'm always conscious of this effect, I quite accidently took two subsequent shots that demonstrate this deception nicely.

If you've wondered how this happens, click or touch the image above.

There was no post-processing done to enhance the depth or exaggerate the perspective. So is this roof deep or shallow? It depends on where you're standing and, regarding photography, which lens (or more specifically which focal length) you use.

The roof appears deeper when standing closer to it and shooting with a wide angle lens (10mm in this case). The lens is wide enough to capture it (even though you're close to it) but objects further away from the lens will consequently appear more distant. It's kind of like the lens is shrinking the inside of the frame to fit more around the outside. That's what makes a wide angle lens so good for big landscapes. And making rooms look bigger than they are.

In the other image, I stepped back about ten metres but then ZOOMED IN (to 20mm) so the top of the roof appeared in the same part of the frame as in the previous shot. But this time the effect of zooming in has brought more distant subjects forward, or COMPRESSED THE DEPTH in the photo, which has made the roof seem shallower.

This effect can be used whenever you want to bring the background closer to or further from the foreground. Or make your house look like Buckingham Palace.

There's a great example here from French photographer Micaël Reynaud which shows how this change of perspective is used in film.