Wide-Angle Lenses and How To Use Them

Wide-angle lenses are very popular with landscape photographers, but they can be tricky to use. The main problem is that these lenses are very different from the way we normally see the world, which makes them easy to use incorrectly. However, a wide-angle lens is still one of the most important tools you can use. If used properly, you can take spectacular photos. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about wide-angle lenses and how to use them.

1. Exaggerate your perspective

If you’ve never used wide-angle lenses before, the first thing you’ll notice is their exaggerated view of the world.

You already know that you can increase the size of nearby objects if you get close to them. However, wide-angle lenses are very wide, allowing you to get very close to your subject and still fit it all into the picture.

As we mentioned earlier, the actual perspective of your photo doesn’t depend on your lens — it only depends on how far you are from your subject. However, wide-angle lenses seem to change your perspective more than other lenses because they bring you closer than usual to what you’re shooting.

Film the desert with a wide-angle lens

Such hyperbole is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, this means that the foreground of the photo will be very large and full of detail. I love photographing dunes, and wide-angle lenses are great for showing the crazy lines around me. Many people also like to use wide-angle lenses to capture waves washing ashore or any other interesting foreground objects.

From a wide-angle lens, the perspective effect is exaggerated. While nearby objects look large and detailed, everything in the distance is greatly reduced in size. For example, if you are photographing mountains, they may end up looking small and insignificant if you use a wide-angle lens.

This is the main problem people encounter in landscape photography with wide-angle lenses. Yes, wide-angle lenses increase the size of the foreground, but this comes at the expense of the background. I rarely shoot mountains with a wide-angle lens unless I’m very close to them because they seem insignificant in the picture.

Despite these problems, wide-angle lenses are still suitable for landscape photography. If you have a good foreground, they can make your photos feel three-dimensional, as if your viewer can walk into a scene. This is not usually the case with telephoto lenses, which are often best for distant landscapes.

2. Unobstructed view

Many would argue that you shouldn’t use a wide-angle lens to “fit” everything in a photo. I don’t agree with that.

Sometimes, if you have an incredible scene sweeping across the landscape, then the only way to capture it all is to use a wide-angle lens (or splice the panorama from a telephoto lens). You still need to pay attention to your background, but that’s always the case.

I find this especially true when there are interesting clouds overhead. If you want to show all the crazy clouds in the landscape — along with the landscape itself — a wide-angle lens is your best bet.

One morning when I was in Yellowstone, the sky turned into an incredible color. It was essentially a rainbow overhead, and I knew I wanted to show it as much as possible in my photos. So, naturally, I used a wide-angle lens. 

sunrise

Of course, when people advised me not to use such a wide-angle lens, I saw their starting point. Many beginners arrive at a beautiful landscape and then use the widest lens they have to capture as much of it as possible. Then they go home with a lot of empty images and wonder what went wrong.

The hardest part of composition when you’re using a wide-angle lens is making sure something is interesting in every part of the photo. In many landscapes, your widest shot will fill the frame with grass and empty sky. Pictures like this may not be very powerful.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: When there are so many incredible things you should use a wide-angle lens to fit everything just at the time, every part of the photo has something interesting going on. This was the case when I visited Yellowstone Park, but it’s rarer than you might think.

3. Negative space

Another way to use wide-angle lenses is to create photos with lots of negative space.

What is negative space? In photography, negative space is the part of a photo that doesn’t get much attention. If your photo has a small tree surrounded by a blank snow canvas, it is said to have a lot of negative space.

Wide-angle lenses are a great way to introduce negative space into your photos – usually not your goal. If you want to show a beautiful view of a distant mountain, you probably don’t want three-quarters of the photo to be filled with an empty sky and no one to look at.

However, for some photos, negative space can be a very powerful tool. It makes your theme stand out, surrounded by a blank space. At the same time, negative space brings a lonely atmosphere to the photos. If you want to show how small your subject is in the world, negative space is a great way to do it.

Of course, with landscape photography, this is usually not your goal. Too much negative space can make a photo feel empty, which only works if you want that effect.

Negative space is often the main problem with wide-angle photography. If you want to show the unobtrusive beauty of a scene, this can be a problem if the photos look bleak and empty.

As always, it depends on the specific picture you take. Maybe you want to show the emptiness of the desert scene, in which case negative space is exactly what you want. But if you want to show the beauty and drama of a distant scene, negative space takes the viewer away from the action.

natural scenery

4. Conclusion

Wide-angle lenses are one of the most popular tools in landscape photography. Because they allow you to get so close to your subject, you can exaggerate the size of beautiful vistas and create three-dimensional images. In addition, if you’re shooting a wide-angle full of beautiful subjects, a wide-angle lens might be the best way to capture it all.

Wide-angle lenses are not easy to use. They tend to add a lot of negative space to your work, which is not always desirable. At the same time, they reduce the size of the background relative to the rest of the image, reducing its importance. Because wide-angle lenses are so different from our normal view of the world, many photographers end up using their lenses incorrectly.

However, if you can solve these problems, wide-angle lenses will become an important part of your arsenal. I use my lens for landscape photography more than any other lens, and I’m always happy with the pictures it helps me take. In addition, the more you use wide-angle lenses, the better you perform. There’s a reason these shots are so famous in landscape photography — they allow you to capture the world in a really interesting way.

FAQ:

Why use a wide lens?

Wide-angle lenses are generally used for scenes where you want to capture as much as possible. Landscapes, cityscapes, and architecture are the main categories that use a wide-angle lens. A fish-eye lens captures even more of the scene but is mainly used for artistic and creative purposes.

Do wide-angle lenses make you look fat?

Wide-angle lenses, which have a short focal length, do just the opposite, making a person in the center of the picture appear both wider and taller. At the extreme, these lenses can also make people at the outside edges of a group photo look fatter. Because the image isn’t flipped.

How many mm lenses are considered wide-angle lenses?

A lens of focal length 35 mm or less is considered wide-angle.

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