I love using a wide angle lens!
When I’m out with my camera, more often than not, I’ve got my 30mm prime attached because it’s light, sharp, fast and most of all, helps me tell a story. I especially love it when I’m out in the city.
But when I’m in the bush, I love to go even wider! Whether it’s capturing an expansive mountain view or a thick forest floor, I always reach for the widest lens in my kit to tell the story.
Let’s talk about some do’s and don’ts that help me to get the most out of shooting wide.
Do: keep the photo simple
Sometimes when using a wide angle lens, it’s tempting to fit as much as you can into the image. However, one of the most effective ways to utilise a wide angle lens is to leave content out. A bit of the good old “less is more” principal.
Wide angle lenses are perfect for open spaces with a single tree or a seascape with an expansive sky. One of my favourite things to shoot is when my kids are out exploring. I love nothing more then standing back and observing as they discover.
Don’t: forget about the subject matter
Whether you’re shooting a minimalistic landscape or a busy street scene, there still needs to be a point to the image – it could be as simple as an interesting texture or repeated colour, or you might want to convey the busyness of a market place. I like to think about what I’m trying to communicate before clicking the shutter, especially in the busy scenes.
Do: utilise compositional elements
With so much of a scene able to be included in an image, it’s sometimes easy to lose focus on what is important. One of my favourite compositional techniques is leading lines. They can lead the viewer’s eye right to the subject matter, and create more dramatic images.
Another simple technique that can really add punch to your wide images is to incorporate framing.
Don’t: worry about lens distortion
Technically, a wide angle lens is any lens that has a wider field of view than what the human eye sees. This means that objects closer to the camera appear larger than ones farther away, even if they are the same size in reality. It can also cause horizons to suddenly bend in the middle, lines of buildings to converge and roads disappear into the distance quickly.
All of these aspects can be used to your advantage, and with a few tweaks in Lightroom, any bendy horizons can soon be straightened out.
Do: use a wide angle for photographing people
A wide angle lens can be used very successfully for shooting people. They’re especially helpful when shooting groups because you can get the whole story!
Don’t: use a wide angle for portraits
Actually, this is not 100% true for me, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the wide angle lens can be unflattering, when people suddenly have very big noses if shot from a close distance. Sometimes this can be fun though!
So there you have it – some of my do’s and don’ts of using a wide angle lens.
Wide angle lenses are powerful! I love them because they have the ability to bring your viewer into the middle of the most chaotic scene, allowing them to almost hear and smell the surroundings. And on the other hand, they can find rest and calm in the simplest of landscapes.
But most of all, a wide angle lens allows me to have the career I’ve always wanted, to be a documentary journalist – of my own life!