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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wide angle lenses fit a lot in!

I guess by the name of the lens that's a pretty obvious statement. From the foreground to the background, left to right, you can get a lot in the frame when you're shooting with a wide angle lens.

But compositionally how does that help or hinder us? Take this shot here for example. I'm standing on top of my hotel in Singapore looking out over the city. You can see out over all the buildings and the street below but you don't really get a sense of where exactly it is that I'm standing.

Yes you can see from the angle of view that I'm high but that's about all you can tell. So this then becomes a photograph of the city seen from above but it isn't a photo of the view from my hotel per se because you can't see the hotel. In actual fact I'm leaning quite far out over the edge of the railing to ensure the hotel doesn't appear in the shot because my lens was so wide.

So how do we go about putting our position back into the frame? By ensuring we have a foreground of note.

Insert one co-operative little boy to do a flying leap into the spa for you and you instantly create a relationship between where you are and its relationship to the city below.

You can see in this image that you can't see as much of the city and it's a slightly different angle. But there's enough there to tell you that you're very high and looking down over a large number of buildings.

More importantly you're showing a relationship between what you can do on top of this building and putting it into a perspective looking out over the city. Both images were shot at 10mm on a crop-frame digital SLR. I had a small aperture to maximise depth of field and still managed to retain quite a fast shutter speed because it was so sunny. The trick was to get my son right in the corner of the frame and capture the peak of the action just as he was soaring through the air. Good thing for me he was happy to do it a million or so times until I was happy with the result!

So remember if you're using that wide angle lens and you want to show the relationship between where you are and what's going on out there - include an interesting foreground.

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