Sunday, November 23, 2014

Go Wide!

The college football season is rapidly approaching the end of the regular season and the beginning of the bowls.   Going wide is something we'll hear when talking about football wideouts and wide receivers. Maybe we'll hear it this Saturday in the Florida - Florida State game, but I'm afraid the passing will favor the Seminoles this year.

We can also go wide in photography.   A wide angle lens is typically in the 24mm - 36mm range with ultra-wide having shorter focal lengths and standard or normal lenses having longer focal lengths.  The are called wide angle because the angle of view through the lens takes in so much more.  A 28mm lens has a 75 degree angle of view, while a 135 mm has only an 18 degree view.

The typical way to use a wide angle is to capture a big wide landscape scene.

Shaker Village

Reel Foot Lake 
Both the Shaker Villiage and Reel Foot Lake photos were taken at 17mm.   They take in a lot of the scene from the far left to the far right.   This is a perfect use for a wide angle lens, but not the only use.

When you place objects close to a wide angle lens their size is magnified relative to objects that are further away, like in this photo of the Cable Mill in Cades Cove.
Cable Mill @ 24mm
What if you turned your camera and took a portrait (taller) orientation shot?   Same effect - things that are close appear much bigger.

In the photo to the left the white flower is the obvious subject.  It is bright and big, demanding attention.   The purple flowers in the background are hardly noticeable, but they do add some depth to the photo.

I've found this is a fun way to get close up shots but include the environment around the subject in the photo.   Wide angle lenses also tend to have a much deeper depth of field, making it easier to keep the close subject and far background in focus.


I've used this technique with flowers to draw people's attention to the flower.  You can use the same technique on other subjects, but beware.  If you use a wide angle lens to photograph a person up close you can get a photo with a large nose or ears.  Not too flattering.

Next time you're out try turning your camera into the portrait orientation and going wide!

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