Wide angle shooting - difficulties....some advice needed...

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by tomO2013, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Typically I tend to shoot within my comfort zone of portraiture, street and dabble a little with landscape. According to lightroom my most used focal lengths are around 28mm, 35mm, 55 and 85/90mm.

    Recently I've decided to stretch myself a little and learn to see and enjoy wider and longer focal lengths (ultra side 14-28mm and telephoto 135mm+ equivalents)

    Looking at some images I've taken - the lenses that I'm using are fantastic and perform great technically. I'm the problem!
    Everything starts and ends with composition and I'm really just not getting it at the ultra-wide end... and I really want to!
    I honestly believe that wide angle must be the hardest field of view to nail well. So while I'm not comfortable with it, I want to force myself to be.

    So pointers that I've heard so far ...
    1. wide angle is all about perspective and playing with perspective so I should be composing with multiple subjects at different depths within the frame if using with people to get the sense of depth between a huge subject matter and distant subject matter.
    2. I should try using wide angle for interior architecture to exaggerate interior perspective.
    3. Landscape needs to have a foreground subject or some type of focal point to really get ultrawide to work ...

    So can anybody give me any advice,


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  2. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Hi Tom - well, I wouldn't want to call myself an expert, but I love shooting wide, so here's a few things I've done which seem to work:

    1) Look for converging lines that emphasise foreground receding to background

    Lines by -Paul Kaye-

    Trees and Steel by -Paul Kaye-

    2) Find big foreground features

    Curvy Bridge by -Paul Kaye-

    3) Find unusual views

    Chandelier by -Paul Kaye-

    4) Get close To the foreground

    Wheatfield by -Paul Kaye-

    Moo! by -Paul Kaye-

    Mushroom 2 by -Paul Kaye-

    Hope that helps!
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  3. RamblinR

    RamblinR Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Qld Australia
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  4. MarkRyan

    MarkRyan Instagram: @MRSallee Subscribing Member

    May 3, 2013
    FWIW, I also struggle wide angle. Even the Oly 12mm is hard for me to use effectively.
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  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    First, the wider the lens the more noticeable the perspective effects will be, but photos taken with a given focal length can end up looking like you used a wider or a longer lens than the one you actually used. Lines in the image can accentuate or diminish how extreme the perspective looks. Receding lines, lines that run towards and away from you, will accentuate how the perspective looks, especially if you have 2 or more strong lines receding to a point within the frame. On the other hand, if there are no clear receding lines in the frame and all of the obvious lines run from side to side rather than towards or away from you, the perspective will not look as extreme and the image can look like it was taken with a longer lens than you actually used. Learn to pay attention to lines and what you include in the frame if you want to get better control of perspective in the image.

    Second, there's a tendency to reach for a wide angle in order to get as big a vista as possible into the frame but while wide angles let you include large vistas of distant scenery, they also accentuate the foreground and you get a large amount of foreground in front of those distant vistas. You need to avoid dead space in the foreground and there are 2 ways of doing that. The first is by including a strong foreground object in the frame but it's hard to do that without the foreground object being the subject of the photo. The alternative is to crop the foreground in order to remove dead space. I learnt to use wide angles by using a 24mm lens on a 35mm film SLR and I found myself having problems when I started using a 12mm lens on a micro four thirds camera because of the difference in proportions of the image format. The narrower/taller landscape format of M43 compared to the wider/not as tall format of a landscape 35mm frame means that you are going to get more foreground in an M43 image so you need to be a little bit more careful. As a result I often find myself cropping wide angle shots and what I find myself cropping is often just the bottom of the frame. Wide skies above a wide landscape work well, but a deep foreground without a strong subject in it draws attention away from the parts of the landscape I'm often interested in. I could tilt the camera up a little in order to avoid including as much foreground but that's going to cause vertical lines to converge and then I find myself doing perspective corrections to eliminate the keystone distortion. Keeping the camera vertical and cropping the bottom of the frame avoids the keystone distortion and gives an image format that tends to accentuate the sense of wideness. You can use this sort of cropping for architecture and interior shots as well.
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  6. biomed

    biomed Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 22, 2013
    Seattle area
    Keeping the camera level is important unless you want vertical lines to converge. If your camera does not have a built in level get a spirit level. There are several types that mount in the camera flash shoe.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  7. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Thanks for the tips guys.
    Great pics Paul and Noonan photography - they are exactly the quality of wide angle pics that I'm aspiring to.

    Completely agree about the slight differences between 4/3 format and 3/2 at the wider end - it can make things challenging.

    I have found myself making rookie mistakes and trying to fit in lots of scenery for epic expansive vistas - I usually try and get low to the ground when taking such shots (attempting to get a similar effect to the 'wheatfield by Paul Kaye' shot above!). Unfortunately I've never actually managed to pull off the effect that I'm going for. However looking at your image it has suddenly dawned on me that in that image, both the sky and ground and effectively converging. Mine are failing miserably because it's crystal blue sky so I end up with all this boring empty space at the top....

    Thanks for all the tips and advice. I'm going to go shooting this weekend , force myself to only shoot 12mm and post some pics here for some critical feedback on how they could be improved.


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  8. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    ....and there's your answer, Tom. Use it!

    (says he, quietly noting to try out the lessons in this thread. Thanks everyone!)
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  9. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    My recipe for uninteresting WA photos, speaking from personal disappointment, is to have the point of interest in the distance, where it is now very small, surrounded by empty expanses of boring foreground and sky. Hah! This happens to me when I see something interesting in the distance, but it is wide, so I grab a wide angle lens. Fooled myself again!

    The point of interest needs to be close, or positively Himalayan in scale and awe-inspiring-ness.

    Next tip: background background background. Outdoors, a WA lens captures so much background, that a really interesting foreground can become a messy photo. Pay a lot of attention to the background, and look for design and placement. This makes outdoor WA photography a thoughtful challenge, not so easy to 'find and shoot' interesting main subjects.

    The photos in posts #2 and #3 are superb examples of success, IMHO.
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  10. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Apr 4, 2010
    Not wanting to be a me-too but the guys are spot on - my early WA days were based around cramming more background 'stuff' in, now I try to get really close to something of interest in the foreground and capture its context/surrounding.
  11. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 4, 2014
    As an aside from the very informative and interesting composition advice above, I think landscape photography in and of itself is one of the hardest forms of photography to nail, at any focal length. I can't count the times I've tried to shoot what I thought was a beautiful image before me, only for the pic to come out flat and diminished from what I had seen. I think that when we are in such places, our minds add to the experience in ways we may not immediately realize. Whatever it was that caught my attention about the place, whether a specific geographic or spatial characteristic, or something about the weather or the lighting, I either failed to capture it on camera, or failed to accentuate it enough. Just recognizing that interesting aspect (or the potential of it, and then being there at the right spot and moment to glimpse it) is hard enough. Then one must utilize the proper photographic technique to draw it out.

    My point is, if your experience with landscape photography has been anything like mine, the missing ingredient may be more than the composition of the moment or the challenge of using wider angles. Professional landscape photographers oftentimes return to a place over and over again to shoot it in different weather, lighting, and seasons, until they know all of the locale's secrets. Only then can they apply their skills to make that beauty pop.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
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  12. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    There was a post about someone having trouble moving to m4/3 because the focal lengths they were use to just didn't feel the same. That is until they realized that just because this is a native 4:3 doesn't mean you can't shoot in 3:2. When I shoot events I often bring my E-M10 along for the detail stuff and shoot it in 3:2 so it matches the aspect of the FX stuff. Theirs no real reason you can't do the same for landscapes. I mean I got into m4/3 because I like the system, size, weight, handling, etc. Not because I found the 4:3 format preferable to 3:2.

    Just a thought.
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  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Legend

    You certainly can, but on most of the cameras, 3:2 is just cropped 4:3. So you are just throwing away part of the picture without gaining the extra horizontal width a native 3:2 camera would give. I'd generally recommend shooting 4:3 and cropping when you get home if desired so you have more options on what gets tossed.
  14. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    Excellent answer!
  15. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    If you shoot RAW or RAW+ you get the full image pre-cropped in RAW or that plus a cropped JPeg. But it might help you visualize it better while shooting.
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  16. Narsuitus

    Narsuitus New to Mu-43

    Mar 6, 2015
    My most used focal lengths are between 24mm and 105mm. When I think I may need something wider than 24mm, I will bring an 18mm. On one assignment, when I knew I would be shooting in a small recording studio, I added a wider 16mm fisheye. I am so glad that I did.


    Fisheye sml.jpg
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thank you!
  18. ttomino1980

    ttomino1980 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 19, 2014
    Great tips & advises! thank you guys!
  19. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Yes - thank you all. Some really great tips. Please keep the pictures coming as they are a great source of inspiration.
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