Seeing The Wide

A sharp wide-angle lens for landscape photography is wonderful. Learning how to use it is a necessity. Here are a few things to consider when you attach that hunk of glass to the front of your camera and attempt to make a masterpiece.

  • Get close, I mean within 2 feet of a subject.
  • Understand distortion and  how to make it work in your compositions. Objects close to the lens made larger can be quite interesting.
  • Look for tangencies that detract from the main subject. Tangencies can also be used for bringing attention to an interesting region of the composition.
  • Look for a foreground, midground and background.  This will give additional information for the viewer to enjoy and potentially more depth to the photo.
  • Watch for distracting elements in the corners. Train yourself to look into every corner of the viewfinder before pressing the shutter. Often I will use “live view” just for this purpose.
  • Keep the horizon from the center of the frame, especially when there is no foreground or spectacular clouds in the sky. Having said that, there are times a centered horizon works, such as a perfect reflection.
  • Finally, we always teach that for optimal sharpness it is best to use a stable tripod, as this will allow you to make big beautiful prints. There is an exception, as there always is, and that is when I notice someone not exploring their compositional opportunities. In these situations, I usually recommend either adjusting the tripod or if that’s not possible, take the camera off and move! Moving th camera just inches can make a dramatic difference in wide angle landscape photography and moving yourself can sometimes make “all” the difference. Don’t get locked into one scene and forget to turn around. I often take a few camera phone snaps prior to setting up a tripod, this helps me explore my compositional opportunities and become more efficient with my tripod and large camera.

I know there are many more items to consider in wide-angle landscape photography, but this is a list of some of the more common issues seen during critique sessions on our workshops while viewing thousands of landscape images taken with wide-angle lenses.

Life is short, take pictures!

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