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When Should I Use a Wide Angle Lens?

Posted by Schmidt Fine Art Gallery on

Wide angle lenses are pretty much what they sound like. They are perfect for capturing spanning horizontal images that integrate more than what is visible to the eye.

The concept seems easy enough, but many beginner photographers who are just starting out with wide angle lenses misuse them. This article will tell you the do’s and don’ts of wide angle lenses to ensure you’re getting the most out of your photos.

What are Wide Angle Lenses?

As explained earlier, wide angle lenses are lenses that capture expansive images catching more of a peripheral than what is seen by the human eye. It can also distort and add perspective. For instance, images closer to the camera will look larger than those that are far away, even if they are the same size.

Straight lines may also appear to converge in wide angle photography.

Wide angle lenses are typically more than 50 mm or 35 mm (APS-C).

Tips for Using a Wide-Angle Lens

Now that you know what a wide-angle lens is, let’s look at some tips that will help you use one correctly.

Have Something Close to the Camera

This isn’t a must, but if you really want to take advantage of the distorted effect and the maximized depth of field, you will want to have your subject close to your camera. Combine this with a spanning background view and your photos will look quite impressive.

Keep a Clear Subject in Your Image

Your subject will work as the central point of your image and your background will span behind it. If there is no clear subject, the effect won’t work.

You can make your subject something as tiny as a small leaf on the ground. Get up close so you are focusing on it while letting the landscape do its stuff.

Pay Attention to Composition and Lighting

Because wide angle photography is very much about how the subject plays against the background, you’ll want to pay attention to composition and lighting. You want your background to speak to you, but you don’t want it to be overly distracting. You’ll also want all the elements to come together nicely.

Your composition and lighting may not be perfect from the beginning so play around until you get the balance that works for you.

Simplify Your Images

When using a wide-angle lens, some photographers are tempted to take advantage of the broader perspective and cram a lot in to one frame. However, this will take away from the unique depth of field a wide angle creates. Focus on your object, find a background without too many distractions and let the picture speak for itself.

Avoid Using it with Portrait Photography

Wide angle lenses produce almost a fisheye effect. This is not the most flattering look for humans, especially if you are focusing on the face. It’s best to avoid using wide angle lenses in portrait photography at all costs…unless you are trying to give your photos a humorous element.

Shooting Wide with No Intent

When a photographer first gets a wide-angle lens, they may play around with it and take photos just because. This makes good practice, but once you get more serious, you will want to plan out wide-angle lens photos in advance to create stand out photos that make the most of the effect.

Wide angle lenses are great for taking photos, but they must be used correctly. This article provides basic guidelines that will help you get your wide-angle photography up to speed. Which techniques will you be incorporating when you shoot?


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