When I first started got interested in photography I thought that you chose your lens based on how far you are from your subject.

Photographing something nearby? Use the 35mm.

Photographing something far away? That calls for the 200mm.

Turns out that our lens choice should be based on much more than simple distance!

Wide angle lenses are generally 35mm lenses and below.  They have an incredible field of view and a 15mm fisheye on a full frame sensor can capture an approximate 180 degree view!  This incredible field of view can make these lenses challenging to use, but also create some fun and unique images of your summer adventures!

black and white wide angle photo by Nicole Begley

1.  Embrace the distortion.

A wide angle lens make the objects closer to the camera appear larger then they really are.  While this doesn’t make for a traditional portrait, it can certainly create an image that screams childhood fun!

distortion from a wide angle lens distortion from a wide angle lens by Nicole Begley

2. Keep your subject in the center.

A wide angle lens also distorts the edges of the frame by bending the image, thus giving you the fisheye effect.  This is where many fisheye photographs go bad.  No one looks good when their face is bending up and around the image so keep your subjects near the center of the frame!

boy on a boat by Nicole Begley

3. Bend the world.

Use the bending of the frame to your advantage to create images in which your subject is on top of the world.  The key is to get up high and shoot down on your subject while lining the horizon up towards one of the edges of the frame.   There is no need for a ladder, the image below was just me standing on my toes and I was only a few feet away from my daughter. The nature of the wide angle lens makes it seem that I am actually much farther away.

girl on the beach photo by Nicole Begley

4. Showcase your view.

Beauty in the natural world is all around us.  Whether you are traveling abroad this summer or just down the street, don’t forget to capture the view.   A wide angle lens offers two distinct opportunities to include your subject in the image.  Have your subject stand far away from your camera to become part of the scene.  You can create an image of scale showcasing this little human in a large expanse of space.

wide angle beach photo by Nicole Begley

You can also have your subject come closer to the camera so that they are taking up more of the frame, but the background is still showcasing the view and the story of the location.

girl jumping on the beach by Nicole Begley

5.  Watch your focal plane.

While you will have more depth of field on a 24mm lens at f/2.8 than on a 200mm lens at f/2.8, the distance your subject is to the camera also affects the depth of field. If your subject is very close to your wide angle lens then the depth of field can be VERY small.  Just keep that in mind when choosing your aperture to ensure that everything that you want to have in focus is in focus!

Learn more about depth of field here.

I hope that this article inspires you to try some new techniques this summer and have fun with wide-angles! Remember to have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment.