Part 1 of this digital photography article explained two concepts related to using a wide-angle lens: the stretching of perspective and the lens’ effect on the size of objects in your pictures. Part 2 explores some additional concepts and techniques to use a wide-angle lens to create interesting photos.
The Non-Primary, Primary Subject Matter
This may seem a bit confusing at first, but it simply refers to another effect of a wide-angle lens. In the example in Part 1 of this PhotographyTalk.com article, the puppy closer to the camera appeared much larger through a wide-angle lens compared to what your eyes would see. There was no doubt as to which puppy with the primary subject. Occasionally, however, you will want to shoot various digital photos with a wide-angle lens, but without emphasizing any particular subject or object in the picture.
Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon is a good example. You want the widest view you can photograph to make the entire scene the primary subject. With a wide-angle lens, you can capture the true panoramic scope of the Canyon’s natural wonder. It’s so spectacular in a wide-angle view that you don’t need a primary subject or object. Your digital photos will still show many distinct objects (although they’ll appear smaller than normal), but it’s the combination of those objects in such a grand perspective that will make your picture exciting.
The same principle applies to taking digital pictures in an enclosed space. At a “normal” focal length (50mm) or telephoto focal length (70mm+), you won’t be able to include most of that space in your photos, even standing tight to a corner of the room. Now, there may be reasons to shoot closer views of individual subjects or objects in that enclosed space, but to show all the activity occurring or the beauty of a room, a wide-angle lens is the best choice. Architectural and interior design photographers know this technique. Their editors want photos of entire rooms, so the complementary design elements can all be included. You certainly want a close-up of your daughter blowing out her birthday candles, but a wide-angle lens will also allow you to capture the complete atmosphere of the occasion: the excitement of the group and reactions on faces.
A Different View of Reality
To shoot dynamic and interesting digital photography with a wide-angle lens, you must be willing to look at the world around you a bit differently. Your brain has registered and reinforced the idea that the way you see the world is “normal.” The science of optics, however, allows the wide-angle lens to see that same world with a view that your brain would consider distorted. The learning curve for you is to train your mind to envision your world as if you were looking through a wide-angle lens, so you can recognize the subjects and objects that when distorted would make interesting photos.
During your golf vacation, you want pictures of your partners hitting their balls, putting, etc. Instead of taking the typical photos, at a 90-degree angle to their swing, attach your wide-angle lens and bring the camera to the level of and in front of a ball on a tee. Ask your partner to place the club head just behind the ball, as if he or she was hitting it. Your wide-angle photo will make the ball look much larger than normal; the vertical line of the golf club will add a dynamic element; and your partner’s face will still be seen, but in the background. Now, you’ve created a picture that he or she will want enlarged and framed.
There are many other examples of this kind. Look for them, and use a wide-angle lens to capture a different reality of your world, making your digital photography more interesting, so you’ll hear more compliments.
Read the PhotographyTalk.com article, Digital Photography—The Wonderful World of the Wide-Angle Lens, Part 3, for additional information.