The Ultra-Wide Phenomenon!

A wide-angle lens is a powerful tool if you want to exaggerate the depth in an image & create an effect of a large subject versus a wide but small background. Some of you who have been following my blog may have read my previous article Why Shoot with an Ultra-Wide Lens? I would like to talk a little more about the ultra-wide lens & why this is my favourite kind of lens for the images I make with my camera.

Overview

A lens is considered to be wide-angle when the focal length (in terms of a 35mm camera or ‘full frame’ camera as you would call it today) is around 35mm or less. This creates an angle of view of approximately 55° horizontally across. This is the range (around 24mm-35mm) you would usually use to shoot a landscape photograph, may it be a photo of a countryside during sunrise or the beach at sunset. Technically anything less than 24mm is considered ultra-wide!

Common Misconception

A very common misconception is to use a wide-angle lens to “get it all in”. Nothing wrong with getting it all in but you’ll really be missing out a lot on the unique ability of an ultra-wide-angle lens. Many folks tend to use a wide angle lens, then step farther away from what they are trying to shoot to “get it all in”. On the contrary, you should really use an ultra-wide angle for the opposite; you want to get closer to the subject!

Notice the characteristics of an ultra-wide-angle lens… not only can the lens shoot at a very wide angle of view, it usually has a very close minimum focusing distance. That is not by accident. All good ultra-wide lenses have this close focusing trait.

The Perspective

When you shoot with a wide-angle lens, size & distance is greatly exaggerated when comparing two similar objects near & far. Nearby objects will look extra large; but far away things look very tiny.

This effect can be used to bring out something in the foreground but push everything else back away from the intended subject. This is why the composition when using an ultra-wide lens is crucial to get the right effect.

When I took this image, I was almost touching the wall with my lens; bringing forth the wall smack in front as the subject, while pushing the rest of the wall behind & the narrow street back. Shots like this greatly exaggerate the size & perspective of reality, which in turn creates a powerful image.

Converging Verticals

This term is used to describe an effect in an image when two parallel lines seem to get closer or converge. This happens a lot when you either point the lens upward or downward. It happens on all lenses actually, but it is greatly exaggerated when you are using an ultra-wide lens.

I like to use this effect to my advantage to be honest, those who have seen my work will see that I use converging verticals almost all the time when I shoot with an ultra-wide lens. Correcting these effects on Photoshop doesn’t make sense to me because this is one of the reasons I like to shoot with an ultra-wide lens.

Using an Ultra-Wide angle lens

1. Get closer!! – You need to get as close as possible to your subject. Since the wide-angle of view will capture a lot more background, they can be distracting even if they are tiny so watch your composition.

2. Organize – It’s very easy for the audience to get confused with the image you are trying to share if you don’t do it right. Again composition is key & selectively ensuring you have a singular subject matter is important to demonstrate what you are trying to convey to your audience.

3. Perspective – Many photographers will advice you to avoid converging verticals, I on the other hand love them! They are what makes the image pop. Your style may defer from mine, but I almost always find that perspective grabs an audience’s attention more often than not!

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