Fisheye lenses have always been popular because of the radical perspective they offer. While not being the cheapest category of lenses, they have definitely managed to attract a considerable fan base and for good reasons.
You can’t use a fisheye lens for everything and it is a lot closer to being a special instrument rather than an all-purpose lens. But it is also one of the most creatively potent tools that you can buy as a photographer. It may not do the work for you, but it will certainly give you and edge with a variety of subjects and situations.
Here are a few ways to creatively use a fisheye lens.
Work with the edges
One of the key differences between a fisheye and any other kind of lens is the use of edges. When using a regular lens, be it wide angle or telephoto, you would normally try and get all the details in the middle of the frame. With a fisheye, it’s all about the edges. The personality of the whole look lies in the edges of the frame and that’s what you need to use to give your subject some presence.
Choose a higher perspective
By higher we mean above eye level. If you keep it at eye level you will most likely end up with your toes in the frame or unnecessary foreground. Climb on something and find a higher standing point. The difference in angle will be a pleasant surprise.
Normally, tilting is what amateurs do, but with a fisheye lens holding it fully leveled on the horizon will minimize the effects you bought it for. Tilting the camera up and down or left or right will cause a bent in distortion and it can give your shots the extra “twist” you were looking for.
Use it in low light
Wide angle lenses let in a lot of light. Fisheye lenses let more. Use this to your advantage and take your lens for a spin during the night. Focusing shouldn’t be very hard and you might return with some unexpected results. Just remember, all that light doesn’t mean you should leave your tripod at home.
You might not be a huge fan of shooting video now, but using a fisheye lens might just trigger a new passion. Footage shot with this kind of lens looks awesome, especially if you learn a few tricks with moving the camera. Seriously, it’s one of the perks of shooting video with a DSLR instead of a “traditional” video camera.
“Play” with the Earth’s curvature
If you place the horizon across the middle of the frame, it will either suffer little or no distortion at all. Why not have a little fun? Place the horizon as close as you can to the edge of the frame. It might give you an exaggerated sense of distortion, but oh how cool it looks!