This article addresses Creative Photography With a Wide-Angle Lens. Many photographers believe it’s time to upgrade their camera or buy new equipment when they feel they are lacking creativity and becoming stale. This is not generally the case, and there are many ways to refresh your creativity without spending money. However, there is one piece of equipment which can give you a whole new perspective on the world. Buying a wide-angle lens is a great investment, and is a fantastic way to bring new life to your photography.
Wide-angle lenses have the ability to involve the viewer and make them feel like they are part of the picture. The images they produce can play with our mind. By making everything appear smaller, wide-angle lenses allow the photographer to fit more into the frame. Used thoughtfully, wide-angle lenses can transform our view of the world into something new and exciting.
Wide-angle lenses come in a range of different focal lengths. The field of view becomes wider at shorter focal lengths, but the distortion also increases. Wide-angle zooms are a great option as you can vary the focal length, but they tend to be quite expensive. For fixed focal lengths, something between 12mm and 24mm (35mm equivalent) is a good option.
Perspective is exaggerated in shots taken with wide-angle lenses, and this can be used for great effects. The downside of exaggerated perspective is that verticals in images will converge, and objects distort and lose their shape. Unless you are deliberately looking for a different effect, this means wide-angle lenses are not good for close portrait shots. That’s not to say they aren’t good for photographing people, but they are better used for environmental portraits of people on location.
Filling the frame can create really powerful wide-angle shots if you choose the right subjects. For example, a shot of flower will take on new qualities with exaggerated perspective. A wide-angle lens emphasizes the distance between near and far, creating dramatic effects. When used creatively, distortion can add great impact to otherwise boring pictures.
Contrary to popular belief, wide-angle lenses don’t offer greater depth of field than telephotos*. Background elements can appear clearer because of the effect of the lens de-magnifying them. It’s still important to use an appropriate aperture, and to ensure you focus correctly. Although pictures take on a surreal quality when shot with wider lenses, care must be taken with technical these aspects.
Lack of foreground interest is a common mistake in many photographs. When shooting with wide-angle lenses, the exaggeration of perspective makes foreground interest even more powerful. Look for interesting features which you can get close to, and use the distortion effect to draw attention to them. In landscape photographs, flowers, rocks and other natural features give a sense of scale and add a new dimension. Before taking a shot, consider what’s the most interesting part of a scene to highlight.
If you can’t afford to buy a wide-angle lens, consider an adapter which can be attached to a standard lens for similar effects. Whatever your favorite subject for photography is, shooting in wide-angle has something to offer.
Having several lenses is great — but not if you have no convenient way to carry the, when you are shooting. How many times have you missed a shot because your large camera bag was too heavy to carry, so it was in the trunk of your car, when you needed it? Enter the Shootsac. I’ve been using a Shootsac for about six years. It is durable and comfortable — and it give me a way to carry 2-3 lenses, a flash, extra memory cards, car keys, phone, etc. so I have what I need, when I need it. Recently, I have begun using a micro 4/3 camera for street photography. I can, easily, carry a body, with lens attached, a backup body, and an additional lens in my Shootsac, and it is less cumbersome than by DSLR with a large lens.
* This statement often causes a debate, so I will link to an article, with sample images, on Luminous Landscape, that demonstrates the idea. Luminous-Landscape.com