In this weeks post I am going to share 4 tips for using a wide angle lens. Wide angle lenses are my favorite and my most used lens for my style of photography. Using a wide angle lens can be tricky if you have never experimented with one before. It's good to read about these tips, but it's even better to go out and try these tips with a wide angle lens. 1) Get low and close to the foreground.
My first tip for wide angle photography is to get low and close to a foreground subject. Wide angle lenses make objects appear smaller. Getting in close to a foreground element will provide more depth and interest to your image. Being farther away from the foreground will most likely result in a "flat" looking photograph. How close is close? As close as you can get! Get in as close as you can to where you can still focus your lens and haven't cut off any of the foreground subject. Usually this means getting within a few inches.
2) Get the 4 key elements.
The 4 key elements are foreground, ( like we discussed above) middle ground, background, and sky. Mentioned in the previous tip, wide angle lenses make things look flat! Wide angle lenses can capture a grand landscape no problem, the key is providing the image with depth. Locate an interesting foreground subject. Position the camera at different heights to give the image a middle ground that leads to the background. Last but not least include an interesting sky. Of course there will be exceptions to this, but for the most part, including the 4 key elements will defiantly improve your wide angle photography.
3) Watch those lines!
A wide angle often means distortion. This can be a good thing, or it can be bad. When using a wide angle lens be aware that the lines in your image will not be straight. If you were to photograph a building pointing the camera up, the building will appear as it's falling over. On the other hand, point your wide angle at the tree canopy above and notice how the tree tops merge towards the center of your image. Getting low and close to railroad tracks will show the tracks converging together somewhere in the middle or background guiding the viewer through your photograph. Just be aware of the lines and how you can use them to improve your composition.
4) Scan the outside edges
One of the main reasons I love shooting with a wide angle lens, is that it captures so much space in an image. My 16-35mm lens has a viewing angle of 108 degrees. That's pretty wide! When I am composing I always have to scan the the outside edges of my viewfinder to make sure I haven't included elements I didn't want. This could be things like sticks, rocks, my feet, or even a tripod leg. It's sounds easy, but on several occasions I have caught a tripod leg in my image. Again at such a wide angle the tripod leg is barely a blip in the image but nonetheless it was there. Always scan the outside edges to make sure something undesirable isn't in your image.
The image below was taken with a wide angle lens at 16mm. The icy shore makes for an interesting foreground, while the waves and the beach lead you through the middle ground to the background with the light beams and sun. The final touch is the cloudy sky with a touch of blue.