6 Winning Ways to Work Wide - Digital Photography School
Close
Close

6 Winning Ways to Work Wide

Today Joe Decker shares some tips on wide angle photography.

One of the first lens purchases aspiring landscape photographers typically made is a wide or super-wide lens, anything (in full-frame 35mm terms) from 24mm on down, and with good reason, wides offer photographers the ability to capture the sweeping vistas of the natural landscape. But they can also be a challenge to use effectively, it’s all to easy to end up with a wide-angle shot that lacks the power and grandeur we felt when we were shooting. In this article, I’ll explain why that’s so often the case, and provide a few tips for working around those challenges, showing you how to use wide-angle lenses to create dramatic, effective images.

Nordenskjöld Lake, Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile. Image Copyright Joe Decker

Nordenskjöld Lake, Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile. Image Copyright Joe Decker


1. Get Close!

Because wide-angle lenses take in a bigger angle-of-view than other lenses, using a wide-angle lens at the same distance from your subject will render that subject smaller than it would otherwise. To compensate for this, you’ll have to move closer to your subject. Don’t be bashful about getting close, particularly with super-wides&mash;it’s almost impossible to get “too close” to your subject with a 14mm lens. This emphasis in size that wide-angle lenses give nearby objects means that …

2. It’s All about the Foreground

Contrary to what you might expect, this means that the most important element of your wide-angle landscapes is the foreground. While wide-angle lenses do capture the wider landscape, they also (almost inevitably, because of their wide field-of-view) capture quite a bit of foreground as well, and this foreground is emphasized by the wide-angle perspective. As a result, if your foreground isn’t interesting, your photograph won’t be interesting. This leads us naturally to the Josef Muench idea of the near-far composition, an image which uses a wide-angle lens to not only show a broad vista, but also to show one detail of that landscape in an up-close, intimate way. When you’re photographing wide, be sure to spend some time looking for the most interesting foreground available to combine with your grand vista.  (If there isn’t an interesting foreground, you might want to consider using a longer lens to leave out that less interesting foreground.)

 Fallen Redwoods, Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith State Park, California.  Image Copyright Joe Decker

Fallen Redwoods, Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith State Park, California. Image Copyright Joe Decker


3. Watch those Verticals!

Wide-angle lenses tend to bend and distort verticals, as you can see in the tree trunks near the top of Fallen Redwoods. Now, you might decide you like that effect, or that you hate it, but it’s important to be aware of it and to make a conscious decision about it. For some images it’s fun to embrace, but more often I find myself having to work to avoid it or correct it later.  Avoiding it can be as simple a matter as composing so that there’s only a single obvious vertical (and that that’s vertical), alternatively, using shift movements with a tilt-shift lens can correct some of this distortion in-camera. Post-exposure, Photoshop’s “Lens Distort” filter can also save the day.

4. Leading Lines

Compositionally, lines (such as streams or railway tracks) leading from the bottom corners of an image towards the center often have a particular magic for guiding the viewers eye through the picture, making for strong images, and this is particularly the case for wide-angle images. Hot Stream is a great example of this, the viewers eye tends to wander from the corner  back through the image along the stream. As the stream moves back into the image, the stream gets smaller (in terms of inches on the printed page) quickly due the wide perspective. This quick fade (in width) into the distance creates a real sense of depth in the image.

Hot Stream, Húsavík, Iceland.   Image Copyright Joe Decker

Hot Stream, Húsavík, Iceland. Image Copyright Joe Decker

5. Filter Woes

Shooting wide creates two problems for those of us who use filters. Polarizers are a specific problem, the effect of a polarizer on a blue sky varies across the sky so greatly that wide-angle images including the sky are left horribly unnatural, so leave off the polarizer unless you know there’s no blue sky in your scene. Screw-in filters are a separate problem, it’s all too easy for the filter edges, particularly if you’re stacking more than one filter on the same lens. Filter systems, such Cokin’s P-series filters (with the wide-angle filter holder), can help you avoid these problems if you must use filters.

Dwarf Arctic Birch, C. Hofmann Peninusla, Greenland.  Image Copyright Joe Decker

Dwarf Arctic Birch, C. Hofmann Peninusla, Greenland. Image Copyright Joe Decker

6. Focusing

One of the things I enjoy most about working with wide-angle lenses is the ease of focusing them. As you move to wider and wider focal lengths, the depth-of-field at a particular aperture gets deeper and deeper. This allows you to make great use of the concept of hyperfocal distance, that is, the nearest distance you can focus a particular lens at a particular aperture and get “good focus”. At 24mm, by focusing about six feet out from the camera you’ll capture everything from about three feet to infinity in focus—even at f/11. At 17mm, focusing at the right point at f/11 will get you everything from infinity down to 17 inches away. Find (using a web site like this or any of a number of other sites, software tools or printed tables) and write down the hyperfocal distance for a couple of your widest lenses at a couple of your favorite apertures, and you’ll have an easy way of bringing the entire scene of near-far compositions into critical focus.

Using wide-angle lenses can certainly be tricky, but I love them all the same. Used well they can allow the photographer to create images that immerse us in a world with both small, intimate details and bold, dramatic vistas.

Joe Decker is a professional nature photographer and writer for Photocrati’s Photography Blog He also offers nature photography workshops and coaching around the western United States.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to DPS. Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @Steve: Thanks for the recommedation!

    @Jeff: Yep, vignetting is precisely what I meant, surprised that’s been sitting missing for two years!

  • http://365daysofinspiration.com/ Kim

    You’ve inspired me to get out my wide-angle lens, so thanks for that. I especially like using a wide-angle for vertical shots with a really great foreground.

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @Kim: I agree, and all too often people forget to even consider vertical compositions. But they often work great in wide-angle work, particularly “near-far” compositions, where there’s enough vertical space to give both the foreground and background (one usually below the other) room to breathe.

  • http://sweetronit.com/blog Sweet Ronit

    Excellent article and tips! I just got a 20mm f2.8 lens, and I absolutely love it. LR has a very easy way of getting rid of wide angle lens distortion, just a matter of clicking which lens you used (I prefer to do away with that almost fish-eye effect). I’ve been reading Joe McNally recently, and I noticed how he often uses a 20mm for people shots – but like you suggested, he gets real close. Here’s a recent shot I did of a skateboarder using a wide-angle and lying on my back to get the shot:

    http://sweetronit.com/blog/2011/06/24/alex-in-the-air/

  • Mina

    *****LOOK FOR CONTRASTS IN COLOR!!!*****

    And some of the principals of art come into play (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_art ) as photography is an art. :)

    I really liked paulo sacremento’s images of the townhouses
    The river drew your eye into the frame, lots of contrasting colors that went good together, the houses looked simialr but different, and the depth of field was awsome and appropirate as was lens choice.

    Whenever I look at a particularly stricking image, I ask myself “Why is this a great image. What makes this so amazing?” and whenever I look at my pictures I ask myself “How could I make this better” “What am I trying to convey? Vast size, beauty, power, quirkiness, differentness, sadness, poverty, inderferntness happiness? Know your subject. Do it justice. :)

    -M-

  • n shackelton

    Good artlcle, but it would have been nice to see they type of camera, lens(es), and settings were used for each shot.

  • ShooterMum

    Excellent article and excellent advice. Just disappointed with photo examples. Would have been really nice to have one or two in there that weren’t so over-done? Simple wide-angle landscapes are just as powerful.

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @shootermum: We all have our own styles, but those are definitely “more done” examples, and intentionally so, it was easier to explain the points I was making when the effects of those points were more readily visible. I put a greater emphasis on trying to communicate the tips I was giving than I did on picking my favorite images. Feel free to poke around my own galleries some and figure out what you think might have been better choices, though:

    http://www.rockslidephoto.com/gallery

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @Sweet Ronit: McNally is a true master, no question! I do make some use of distortion-reduction, it had a huge effect on one of my new images here: http://www.rockslidephoto.com/imported-20101203065352/2011/6/28/avalanche-lake.html — the image simply wouldn’t have worked without some of that, that’s a very good point.

  • ShooterMum

    Cool. thanks Joe will take a look.

  • http://www.webbingsystems.com Pashminu Mansukhani

    The amount of post shoot work required can be a major deterring for majority of the people who shoot. Also, all wide angle lens have some distortion issue or another. Cannot we have less expensive prime lens of say 10mm for APS-C class cameras?

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @NS: I’m not at my home base today so I can’t look up the #s, but I can give you most of the information off the top of my head. All four were at f/16; ISO 100 except for the forest, All were with a Canon 1Ds3 or 1Ds, full frame either way, you wouldn’t see a difference.

    My best guess is that three of the shots were with the 24-70L/2.8 at its widest extent, the forest shot was at around 18-19mm on the Canon 16-35L/2.8. I remember coming in from 16. Since the forest shot was handheld, I likely had to pull back a bit on aperture and ISO, likely f/11 or *maybe* f/13, ISO 200 on it. All were shot aperture-priority and then exposure-adjusted in post.

  • http://www.joedecker.net/ Joe Decker

    @Pashminu Mansukhani: It’s not as disturbing as you might think, the problem in part is that there’s no right way to keep verticals vertical in a photograph in a wide-angle perspective unless you know whether you’re pointing up, down or neither. In practice most wide-angle shots don’t require adjustment, and of the ones I showed here only the forest shot received any attention.

    The problems, again, are not faults of the lens (primarily). A tilt-shift lens *will* give you some ability to correct for it, and I use one at times, but they’re more fuss than most photographers wish to deal with.

  • Mark

    For those commenting on using the polorizer filter, my problem with this article is that it does not mention that you can adjust the amount of “polarizing” you apply. By twisting the outer ring you can adjust the amount of the effect from zero to full. While you need to be aware of the impact it is having on your image at all times, there is no set rules because so many factors are at play in any one photo. The filter has almost no effect if the sun is directly in front of or behind you. It has its maximum effect when the sun is ninety degrees to your right or left. And the effect is somewhere in between the two at any other angle. This makes each set up unique. A polarizer can be a wonderful addition at any focal length, but you really need to understand how it works and what it is doing in your current set up. And the one post about stitching panoramas is correct. You will never get a good stitch with this filter, so don’t use it for panoramas. In addition, nearly all filters can now be duplicated in post production except the polorizer filter (Tiffin does offer software that simulates it, but not perfectly). That said, I use the physical filter most of the time when I want the effect. ND grads are another filter that is needed in the field sometimes for special effects, although most of the time I just apply them in post production.

    Another comment about Canon L series lenses — While there are other lenses available at many different price points, I will never regret buying the best. It is more than a small gain in quality, IT IS HUGE!!! That said, not everyone can afford to buy them and almost all of the articles can apply to “consumer” quality lenses like the EF-S line or the third party lenses. The principles are the same for any focal range of lenses, so enjoy what you can afford and enjoy the articles like this one that inform you on how to use them.

  • http://www.lensmankc.com Lensman kc

    Hi
    Hello there…which is the best lens for landscape…i am using Nikon D90.
    Thanks!

  • http://www.orange-upgrades.co.uk Nathan

    Just bought a wide-angle lens and can’t wait to start using it!

  • Tod

    i tend to be scared of going too wide with landscapes, in my mind i prefer to have a bit more of an intimate connection to the subject. I often shoot landscapes at around 30-40mm.

  • http://www.wildlifeencounters.eu Steve

    Simple advantage of wide angles is that you can get everything in the frame that you want to. Sometimes you cannot get at a distance to achieve that with an ordinary lens

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Somerset/G0000JYiOAjJciuQ/I0000oyKbng_f77s/C00006idB3II8aC4

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ Mridula

    I love landscape photography but have been shooting with the kit lens as wide angle lens I find them very expensive. :(

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • http://www.fuzzypig.com George Johnson

    Everyone always states a wide-angle is a must for landscape shooting, when I started it was one of the first lenses I bought. I’ve since found that I utterly hate the unnatural distortion a wide-angle gives. Don’t get me wrong I love using wide-angle lenses when the appropriate subject presents itself but most of the time you simply need to frame and position using a mid-range lens type. People simply think landscape=wide-angle, slap on their 10mm ultra-wide and end up with anything in the midrange focual plane looking like it’s about 27 miles away due to perspective compression that wide-angles give! They don’t stop to think if a particular lens type is appropriate for a particular type of scene or compostion.

    I much prefer the more natural 24mm+ range ( on a full-frame ) when I shoot my landscapes as it gives a much more pleasing clarity to the foreground objects and ensures the perspective is not stretched out of sight or worse introduces bizarre scales to the compostion’s objects.

  • http://JSLArtPhoto.com Jeffrey

    @George,
    24mm is an excellent wide angle lens to use.
    28mm also is great for a minimal amount of distortion.
    Both are great wide angle lenses for landscapes!

Some older comments

  • Jeffrey

    May 27, 2013 12:41 am

    @George,
    24mm is an excellent wide angle lens to use.
    28mm also is great for a minimal amount of distortion.
    Both are great wide angle lenses for landscapes!

  • George Johnson

    May 24, 2013 12:48 am

    Everyone always states a wide-angle is a must for landscape shooting, when I started it was one of the first lenses I bought. I've since found that I utterly hate the unnatural distortion a wide-angle gives. Don't get me wrong I love using wide-angle lenses when the appropriate subject presents itself but most of the time you simply need to frame and position using a mid-range lens type. People simply think landscape=wide-angle, slap on their 10mm ultra-wide and end up with anything in the midrange focual plane looking like it's about 27 miles away due to perspective compression that wide-angles give! They don't stop to think if a particular lens type is appropriate for a particular type of scene or compostion.

    I much prefer the more natural 24mm+ range ( on a full-frame ) when I shoot my landscapes as it gives a much more pleasing clarity to the foreground objects and ensures the perspective is not stretched out of sight or worse introduces bizarre scales to the compostion's objects.

  • Mridula

    May 23, 2013 04:05 pm

    I love landscape photography but have been shooting with the kit lens as wide angle lens I find them very expensive. :(

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Steve

    May 20, 2013 06:44 pm

    Simple advantage of wide angles is that you can get everything in the frame that you want to. Sometimes you cannot get at a distance to achieve that with an ordinary lens

    http://wildlifeencounters.photoshelter.com/gallery-image/Somerset/G0000JYiOAjJciuQ/I0000oyKbng_f77s/C00006idB3II8aC4

  • Tod

    May 20, 2013 07:12 am

    i tend to be scared of going too wide with landscapes, in my mind i prefer to have a bit more of an intimate connection to the subject. I often shoot landscapes at around 30-40mm.

  • Nathan

    November 5, 2011 03:12 am

    Just bought a wide-angle lens and can't wait to start using it!

  • Lensman kc

    July 26, 2011 02:01 am

    Hi
    Hello there...which is the best lens for landscape...i am using Nikon D90.
    Thanks!

  • Mark

    July 2, 2011 02:52 am

    For those commenting on using the polorizer filter, my problem with this article is that it does not mention that you can adjust the amount of "polarizing" you apply. By twisting the outer ring you can adjust the amount of the effect from zero to full. While you need to be aware of the impact it is having on your image at all times, there is no set rules because so many factors are at play in any one photo. The filter has almost no effect if the sun is directly in front of or behind you. It has its maximum effect when the sun is ninety degrees to your right or left. And the effect is somewhere in between the two at any other angle. This makes each set up unique. A polarizer can be a wonderful addition at any focal length, but you really need to understand how it works and what it is doing in your current set up. And the one post about stitching panoramas is correct. You will never get a good stitch with this filter, so don't use it for panoramas. In addition, nearly all filters can now be duplicated in post production except the polorizer filter (Tiffin does offer software that simulates it, but not perfectly). That said, I use the physical filter most of the time when I want the effect. ND grads are another filter that is needed in the field sometimes for special effects, although most of the time I just apply them in post production.

    Another comment about Canon L series lenses -- While there are other lenses available at many different price points, I will never regret buying the best. It is more than a small gain in quality, IT IS HUGE!!! That said, not everyone can afford to buy them and almost all of the articles can apply to "consumer" quality lenses like the EF-S line or the third party lenses. The principles are the same for any focal range of lenses, so enjoy what you can afford and enjoy the articles like this one that inform you on how to use them.

  • Joe Decker

    July 1, 2011 12:36 pm

    @Pashminu Mansukhani: It's not as disturbing as you might think, the problem in part is that there's no right way to keep verticals vertical in a photograph in a wide-angle perspective unless you know whether you're pointing up, down or neither. In practice most wide-angle shots don't require adjustment, and of the ones I showed here only the forest shot received any attention.

    The problems, again, are not faults of the lens (primarily). A tilt-shift lens *will* give you some ability to correct for it, and I use one at times, but they're more fuss than most photographers wish to deal with.

  • Joe Decker

    July 1, 2011 12:31 pm

    @NS: I'm not at my home base today so I can't look up the #s, but I can give you most of the information off the top of my head. All four were at f/16; ISO 100 except for the forest, All were with a Canon 1Ds3 or 1Ds, full frame either way, you wouldn't see a difference.

    My best guess is that three of the shots were with the 24-70L/2.8 at its widest extent, the forest shot was at around 18-19mm on the Canon 16-35L/2.8. I remember coming in from 16. Since the forest shot was handheld, I likely had to pull back a bit on aperture and ISO, likely f/11 or *maybe* f/13, ISO 200 on it. All were shot aperture-priority and then exposure-adjusted in post.

  • Pashminu Mansukhani

    July 1, 2011 12:21 pm

    The amount of post shoot work required can be a major deterring for majority of the people who shoot. Also, all wide angle lens have some distortion issue or another. Cannot we have less expensive prime lens of say 10mm for APS-C class cameras?

  • ShooterMum

    July 1, 2011 05:42 am

    Cool. thanks Joe will take a look.

  • Joe Decker

    July 1, 2011 05:37 am

    @Sweet Ronit: McNally is a true master, no question! I do make some use of distortion-reduction, it had a huge effect on one of my new images here: http://www.rockslidephoto.com/imported-20101203065352/2011/6/28/avalanche-lake.html -- the image simply wouldn't have worked without some of that, that's a very good point.

  • Joe Decker

    July 1, 2011 05:32 am

    @shootermum: We all have our own styles, but those are definitely "more done" examples, and intentionally so, it was easier to explain the points I was making when the effects of those points were more readily visible. I put a greater emphasis on trying to communicate the tips I was giving than I did on picking my favorite images. Feel free to poke around my own galleries some and figure out what you think might have been better choices, though:

    http://www.rockslidephoto.com/gallery

  • ShooterMum

    July 1, 2011 05:18 am

    Excellent article and excellent advice. Just disappointed with photo examples. Would have been really nice to have one or two in there that weren't so over-done? Simple wide-angle landscapes are just as powerful.

  • n shackelton

    July 1, 2011 04:55 am

    Good artlcle, but it would have been nice to see they type of camera, lens(es), and settings were used for each shot.

  • Mina

    June 30, 2011 02:41 pm

    *****LOOK FOR CONTRASTS IN COLOR!!!*****

    And some of the principals of art come into play (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_art ) as photography is an art. :)

    I really liked paulo sacremento's images of the townhouses
    The river drew your eye into the frame, lots of contrasting colors that went good together, the houses looked simialr but different, and the depth of field was awsome and appropirate as was lens choice.

    Whenever I look at a particularly stricking image, I ask myself "Why is this a great image. What makes this so amazing?" and whenever I look at my pictures I ask myself "How could I make this better" "What am I trying to convey? Vast size, beauty, power, quirkiness, differentness, sadness, poverty, inderferntness happiness? Know your subject. Do it justice. :)

    -M-

  • Sweet Ronit

    June 30, 2011 02:20 am

    Excellent article and tips! I just got a 20mm f2.8 lens, and I absolutely love it. LR has a very easy way of getting rid of wide angle lens distortion, just a matter of clicking which lens you used (I prefer to do away with that almost fish-eye effect). I've been reading Joe McNally recently, and I noticed how he often uses a 20mm for people shots - but like you suggested, he gets real close. Here's a recent shot I did of a skateboarder using a wide-angle and lying on my back to get the shot:

    http://sweetronit.com/blog/2011/06/24/alex-in-the-air/

  • Joe Decker

    June 29, 2011 03:03 am

    @Kim: I agree, and all too often people forget to even consider vertical compositions. But they often work great in wide-angle work, particularly "near-far" compositions, where there's enough vertical space to give both the foreground and background (one usually below the other) room to breathe.

  • Kim

    June 29, 2011 12:34 am

    You've inspired me to get out my wide-angle lens, so thanks for that. I especially like using a wide-angle for vertical shots with a really great foreground.

  • Joe Decker

    June 28, 2011 12:31 am

    @Steve: Thanks for the recommedation!

    @Jeff: Yep, vignetting is precisely what I meant, surprised that's been sitting missing for two years!

  • Erik Kerstenbeck

    June 27, 2011 11:54 pm

    Hi

    I use a 10-20mm wide angle zoom for a lot of my landscape work. Always try to catch foreground like of this shot of a Mission in San Diego!

    http://kerstenbeckphotoart.wordpress.com/2011/06/26/mission-bells/

    Regards, Erik

  • Jeff Carter

    June 27, 2011 11:29 pm

    Let's hit point #5 again. You mentioned:

    "Screw-in filters are a separate problem, it’s all too easy for the filter edges, particularly if you’re stacking more than one filter on the same lens."

    It's all too easy for the filter edges to what? I was expecting you were going to suggest it causes vingetting?

    Thanks for clarifying the point. :-)

    --
    =Jeff

  • Steve (oz_ollie)

    June 27, 2011 04:26 pm

    For those with Android phones, I recommend DoF Calc by JDS for calculating hyperfocal distance. It's in the market and free to use.

  • ScottC

    June 27, 2011 02:05 pm

    Good tips, especially the reference to hyperfocal points. I've found that the lens distortion tool only works well with limited, near verticals.

    Thanks

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/4724542477/

  • Joe Decker

    June 27, 2011 10:26 am

    Hi Caitlyn,

    Couple ideas depending on your budget and what sorts of subjects you have in mind. The thing to remember with a rebel (or most of the "crop sensor" cameras, which are most DSLRs) is that you need a shorter focal length than you would on a full-frame camera--what I'm used to thinking of on a full-frame camera as a "24mm" sort of shot would take a 16mm on my crop-sensor cameras like the Rebels.

    The other factor to keep in mind is this--will you be staying with crop-sensor cameras for some time to come. If the answer is yes (and there's nothing wrong with that), the EF-S lenses offer provide a wide-angle perspective with less weight and bulk--handy if you're doing a lot of travelling.

    For example, the 10-22 EF-S is probably the only Canon zoom that will give you an ultra-wide perspective on your Rebel.

    If you don't need to take extreme-wides, there are several choices, the EF-S 17-55, the EF 17-40L/4 and the EF 16-35L/2.8 II. The latter two are sharper than the EF-S lenses, and significantly heavier, of the two I'd normally recommend the 17-40 unless you really really feel that you'll need f/2.8.

    Feel free to drop me a line if you want to go into more details about what you like to shoot, etc., and perhaps I can give a more targeted rec. --Joe

  • Caitlyn

    June 27, 2011 07:07 am

    I'm interested in purchasing a wide angle lens for my Canon Rebel T1I, but I'm not sure which to choose. Any suggestions? This article held great tips for me, as I've been researching for the past few weeks.

  • Joe Decker

    April 26, 2011 05:47 am

    Uncle Rhea: Love the second one in particular.

    And as to getting out there and trying, Bayles and Orland really said it best:

    "”The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.” (Art and Fear, p.5)

    I love that quote, and it reminds me every day to get off the couch, get out there, and work!

  • uncle-rhea

    April 23, 2011 01:10 am

    I'm still getting the hang of my ultra-wide. Getting close and ensuring the periphery is clear of distraction is definitely a challenge. Good article. Getting out there and trying and failing and trying some more.
    This is me getting an inch from my subject in the photos below. [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncle-rhea/5636272729/' title='Spring Storm' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5105/5636272729_d3cd069365_z.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncle-rhea/5636271941/' title='Red' url='http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5270/5636271941_a09efe4d6d.jpg']

  • Michelle True

    January 29, 2011 04:14 pm

    @Paulo- Those are wonderful photos!

  • Michelle True

    January 29, 2011 04:11 pm

    @SKUZ. I get some vignetting on my images with my filters, too, esp. when shooting as wide as lens allows. I bought a couple filters that are larger than most of my lenses and have a step-up ring. So I use the 77mm filters on my 67 mm lenses and seems to take care of it. And I can use it on the wide angle lens as well, but will probably have some vignetting with it at the widest focal length.

  • M. D. Vaden of Oregon

    December 11, 2010 07:46 pm

    Number 6 about focusing is why I suspect the wide angle is a premium lens for DSLR in the redwoods. The depth of field seems more important there than a lot of other places.

    MDV

  • Patrick

    October 9, 2010 05:03 pm

    Why is that every time there is an article about lenses, we have people advocating the use of the Canon L series lenses? Not everyone has the financial ability to buy these expensive lenses, so alternatives are a must. Anyone using a Canon D30 or Canon D60 keep an eye out for the Sigma 18mm on auction sites (you know the one I mean) I paid £18 for one, and whilst it is not really all that wide on a Canon D60 due to cropping factors (x 1.6, which is roughly 27mm) it works for me. Also, there are some alternative Canon EF lenses that are not in the L series that do a very good job, and for a lot less money, and come close to the results you would get with an L series lens. Do your homework, and the L series lens owners may feel a little annoyed that they paid so much for a small increase in performance.

  • Wimpy Iskandar

    September 3, 2010 01:06 pm

    I there any one ever try Sigma 8-16,it is wonderfull.........
    Price is around Sing$ 900 something.
    Rgds

  • Paulo Sacramento

    May 21, 2010 02:29 am

    I'm still a wide-lens' beginner, but have already captured some pictures that make me happy.
    Here are some of the best:
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/4309826508/' title='20mm-49' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4025/4309826508_b42d0bc43a.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/4311807365/' title='Pattern' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4059/4311807365_09e5576e77.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/4318553913/' title='' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4021/4318553913_6488c15943.jpg']
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulosacramento/4319292700/' title='' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4043/4319292700_d66f77538c.jpg']

  • rene ojeda

    May 4, 2010 02:31 pm

    hey guys I just want to know wich nikon lenses can I use for wedding photography I have a nikon d90

  • Joe Decker

    January 14, 2010 01:40 am

    IIt's hard to tell without seeing your photos whether the problem you're seeing is focus or motion blur or what, but let me suggest a few things.

    I don't know the S52000 in particular, so bear with me.

    First, if the problem is just focus, you'd like to use a narrow aperture (a large f-stop number) and, if you want to focus from fairly close to infinity, you'll want to manually focus (if your camera supports that) to the hyperfocal distance. Here's an article on hyperfocal distance: http://digital-photography-school.com/hyperfocal-distance-photographers-friend

    But if you're getting feedback on your shots that they are blurry that you need to make your shutter speed faster, the problem may not be focus at all, the problem may be that you're handholding the camera, and the shuttter speed isn't fast enough to keep camera motion from making the picture blurry (or perhaps the subject in your picture is moving.) There, you do want a faster shutter speed, maybe a tropod, and so on.

    Sorry I can't be of more help, I hope this gives you a direction to look further in. All the best!

  • Daniel Comtois

    January 13, 2010 11:39 pm

    You seem to enjoy focusing with your wide angle. This is my nightmare.. I just cant focus at all. First let me tell my equipment. A Fuji S52000 Zoom, a 10X Fixed lens 38mm-380mm (eq 35mm) and a Zeikos 0.45x Wide Angle Lens 52mm. I have been told to double my Shuttle speed to 170 or more. Tried that, didnt work. So what do I do wrong?

  • Lorenzo Reffo

    August 3, 2009 05:04 pm

    Great article!! I bought a Tamron 10-24mm last may and I'm really happy with it.. I'd always loved wide-angle pictures, anyway I was a bit doubtful about buying such a lens.. definitely it's been a good choice to get it!

    I think another good advice might be: look at the sky! Using a wide-angle can give to cloudy skies a breath-taking dramatic effect... such as on the picture below:

    http://tinyurl.com/knylgo
    http://tinyurl.com/m2stow

  • kauaikid

    August 1, 2009 06:03 am

    Excellent tips! I just bought a Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS lens, but my next purchase is the Canon 16-35mm 2.8L II lens. I've been using my Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens coupled with a B&W circular polarizer and I have been getting great landscape pics with them. The colors are very rich and vibrant, but you must be careful when the lens is wide open...vignetting is definitely a problem, but nothing that Photoshop can't handle. Now I can't wait to get the 16-35mm so I can put some of your tips to good use...especially tip #2!

    Thanks and keep the tips coming,
    kauaikid

  • De66ie

    August 1, 2009 03:56 am

    I am just beginning to shoot with my wide angle lense, so I found this very helpful. I have always loved my macro lens and the tehnique will definitely take a different turn for me with the wide angle lens. Thanks for all the great hints. :-)

  • Marc

    July 28, 2009 05:35 am

    Great article!!! I have the Canon 10-22 and am still learning it. These thoughts help.

  • B P Maiti

    July 24, 2009 11:02 am

    Very much useful.I use 14mm.If he could give some insight for effective use of that lense.Thanks.

  • Robin Ryan

    July 24, 2009 03:24 am

    @Joe: Excellent point... I'd like to try out that 17-40, but Im on a D40. Maybe I'll save up for that as my next, but the 35mm f/1.4 makes me drool so much.

  • Akif

    July 23, 2009 09:28 pm

    very good and practical advice. i have been using a sigma 10-20mm with Eos 400d and most recently with eos 50d. pictures on my website are mostly by Eos 400D. i have been using the ND grad filters and occasionally circular polarizer.
    Akif

  • MeiTeng

    July 23, 2009 06:33 pm

    Yes ND grad filters. Thanks for explaining,

  • Joe Decker

    July 23, 2009 04:45 am

    @Conor: PTLens is another great suggestion for geometric distortion, indeed. Also, if I didn't mention it, DXO's products, but PTLens is very inexpensive. If you already have Photoshop, the built-in correction in the filter I mentioned works just fine, but if you don't, PTLens is a very affordable, high-quality solution.

    @JohnP: Indeed, yeah!

    @MeiTeng: ND filters, or ND grad filters? I rarely use plain ND filters except for photographing waterfalls, so I wouldn't recommend using one unless the image you want to create needs it for some other purpose.
    BUT.... I do use graduated ND filters now and then. Is that what you were asking about? The 'gradations" on an wide-angle image end up (on the image) a lot "harder" than they would on a longer lens. That means that if you want a softer transition from filtered to non-filtered in a wide-angle shot with a graduated ND filter, it's critical to use a "soft" ND grad (I use my Singh-Ray soft 2-stop graduated ND filter a fair bit in that kind of situation.)

    @Zack: Thanks for the kind words!

    @Robin: I love night photography! Yeah, the 10-22 is a great lens if you're working with a reduced-frame sensor. I'm on Canon, though, and I think by 17-35L/2.8, that's a great lens but the updated version (16-35L/2.8 II) is what I'm using now and even sharper. For full-frame, for folks who don't need f/2.8 the 17-40L/4 is just as sharp and a *lot* cheaper, and is another great zoom option.

    @Michael: I don't think the usual D40 kit lenses go quite as wide as the widest images there, you might want to look at the Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX, but even with a lens not quite as wide you can do a lot down in the 17-18mm range on your camera, and the same ideas apply. I'm pretty sure that the stream image, for example, was taken at 24mm on a full-frame camera (roughly equivalent to 17mm or so on your camera.)

    And everyone: Thanks for all the comments and the many complements!

  • Michael

    July 22, 2009 06:03 pm

    I'm very new at photography (I have a Nikon D40 - two lens kit)

    What would be a good lens to purchase to recreate shots like those in this article?

    Thanks.

  • Kendall

    July 22, 2009 10:30 am

    I am still very new to the photography art. I Loved the article I think that Joe did an awesome job of pointing out some beginning steps. for someone like me this article was priceless. Thank you Joe for taking your time to share.

  • Robin Ryan

    July 21, 2009 10:52 pm

    I also love their use for night photography... ie:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinryan/3738476725/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinryan/3729346661/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/robinryan/3720869670/

    For Canon, I highly recommend the 10-22mm, but if you can afford it, get the 17-35mm L which isnt as wide but takes astounding images

  • Zack Jones

    July 21, 2009 09:06 pm

    (After spending a good half hour on Joe's web site) -- your work is amazing. After browsing around on the site and looking at the images included in this article I had an ah ha moment. These images just so a different perspective of the scene and one that I have too often overlooked. I have a new approach to try and I thank you for that.

  • MeiTeng

    July 21, 2009 05:19 pm

    Would a ND filter be recommended for wide angle landscape photography?

  • Joel

    July 21, 2009 05:08 pm

    Thanks a lot for the practical advice, especially #2. I never figured out why some of my landscape shots were only mediocre. In trying to get as much of the landscape into the shot as possible, I usually settled for a minimalistic foreground.

  • johnp

    July 21, 2009 04:36 pm

    Thanks for your comments Joe. I must admit to correct viginetting in blue skys from using a polariser in wide angle scenes normally means you have to allow for a fairly heavy crop of the edges of a scene. Otherwise just a tweak of levels seems to make the picture jump into life (more so than a photo not taken with a filter). Definitely wouldnt go near a polariser though if planning to stich panoramas with sky together - it always ends up in a mess.

  • Deepak

    July 21, 2009 01:46 pm

    Wonderful article. Gives a new insight to using my wide angle lens. Thanks!

  • joelzilla

    July 21, 2009 12:06 pm

    Tops article. Im picking up a wide angle this week, that will help heaps.

  • Conor Boyd

    July 21, 2009 11:46 am

    For Tip #3 above: Check out a plugin for Photoshop called PTLens (http://www.epaperpress.com/ptlens/index.html) which provides distortion correction for a wide range of calibrated lenses. It also comes as a stand-alone utility which can e.g. be used as an external editor in Lightroom, etc.

  • Joe Decker

    July 21, 2009 11:21 am

    Reid, Zack: I agree with you that the particular examples I chose are pretty sky-empty, in the case of the Greenland image and the Husavik (Hot Stream) image, the sky was not worth the waste of pixels. I'm not "against sky" (laughs), I just like it to be interesting (e.g., http://www.rockslidephoto.com/leaf.php?id=2304&gallery=14, or http://www.rockslidephoto.com/leaf.php?id=2274&gallery=14, just to grab a few.)

    Skuz: Depends on how wide you go, but yeah, even with the wide P-holder you can vignette, depending on a number of other variables. Don't tell anyone, but I've been known to hold the filter freehand, which I do *not* recommend.

    Jeffery: Yep, I'd agree that a good article to hyperfocal distance specifically could do a better job, in an overview article like this I wanted to primarily point people at the concept, get them started.

    Alex: Yeah, I use PhotoCalc for my iPhone, but there are other options (some which have support for non-English languages), and I'm not up on all the competition in that market, even less so for the Pre, etc. That having been said, even with PhotoCalc I like knowing the answer off the top of my head for the commonest settings 16 and 24mm at f/16 and f/22 in all four combinations) , it saves me a few seconds when the light is changing quickly! But I do use PhotoCalc quite a bit in the field.

    JohnP: If you can correct the polarization artifacts to your satisfaction, I'm all for it. Haven't always been as satisfied with my own results, but I'm not religious about the matter, I just do what works for me. :)

    Anyway, apologies for any comments/suggestions I missed,, and I really appreciate all the complements and comments. Don't be afraid to drop me a line if you've got questions, and thanks!

  • Alex

    July 21, 2009 10:42 am

    Having just purchased a polariser for my 12-60 (24-120) zoom, the reminder about skies is timely for me.

    Regarding #6 on hyperfocal distance, there are a number of tools for the iPhone (and I presume other smart phones) that will do this for you.

  • johnp

    July 21, 2009 09:49 am

    Beautifull photos, I especially like the first one. Thanks for the advice I found it very helpfull. Personally I prefer not to have large areas of sky in the photos (unless you are intentionally shooting "big sky country") so appreciated these photos even more.
    I find the problem with polarizers can be that a blue sky can be uneven in colour especially darkening in the top corners. They sometimes can deepen the blue so much it is almost black. I still like using them however as problems can be corrected in computer and colours have so much more bounce. They are also essential for adjusting glare and reflections.

  • af

    July 21, 2009 09:14 am

    I enjoyed this article and it gave me stuff to htink aobut. Thanks.

  • Steve

    July 21, 2009 08:59 am

    I would have to say to some of you that commented that maybe you expect every article to serve everyones needs! DPS serves a huge community with I would dare say people at many differing skill levels. So intstead of complaining about the lack of info maybe right an aritcle yourself or do a search and make a suggestion to the mods as to what they could include!

  • Zack Jones

    July 21, 2009 04:23 am

    I didn't realize it until Reid pointed it out but he's right. There's a noticeable lack of sky in the examples. I would also love to see more information about each example such as camera used, lens used, focal length, aperture, etc.

  • Jeffrey Kontur

    July 21, 2009 04:16 am

    Good article but the explanation of hyperfocal distance in point #6 is lacking a bit. I think I explained it better in my recent newsletter.
    http://www.moresatisfyingphotos.com/tips/tip09200.htm

  • Skuz

    July 21, 2009 02:32 am

    Good article, but unless you are using a full frame sensor, good luck with using cokin P size filters, you tend to end up with bad vignetting by capturing the corners of the filter holder, even with only one filter. Rather try the Z size, though they are frightfully expensive.

  • kimrose

    July 21, 2009 02:04 am

    Excellent article! I love my wide angle, and it's great for landscapes... but I do love to use it for close-ups. It really gives a new perspective!

  • Scott

    July 21, 2009 01:16 am

    What a great article! I was really getting disaenchanted with the recent articles in this feed by Helen and was about to give up on it. I am glad there is still a reason to keep getting this! excellent work!

  • Reid

    July 21, 2009 01:11 am

    Hmmm, where's the sky in all those examples? I often am interested in the "big sky" feel and find that it adds to the "grandeur" which you mention, and it also helps a lot with the foreground and verticals issues.

    Frankly, on the three shots above where there is a skyline, that skyline feels crowded to me.

  • Jonathan Alexander

    July 21, 2009 01:04 am

    Awesome post!

    I'm a fairly new photographer lover and mostly like to go to national parks and photograph. I am just curious about the #5 filters tip. I've recently been looking into getting a polarizing filter. I thought that they were good for outdoor photos and sky? Tip #5 says they will make the sky look horribly unnatural. What exactly will a polarizing lens do to the sky? I was under the impression that it would saturate colors and cut down on reflections and that they were ideal for shooting outdoors. Now I'm not sure when and where a polarizing filter is even needed. Just when I am filming outdoors and not including the sky in my frame?

    Thank you for any clearing up with this. I love this website, it has been a great source of knowledge. I've learned so much just from the couple weeks that I have been now subscribing to it!

  • Ilan

    July 21, 2009 12:34 am

    I love the article and I love the examples, but I also think it's important to note how important wide angle for street photography as well.
    Wide lens make the observer feel as if he is a participant in the wide street shot he is seeing. Plus, it gives more information about the surroundings of the "main character"
    I'm not a big fan of street when using tele lenses - Wide is the best for street as well, imho :)

    Here is an example - http://www.ilanbresler.com/2009/04/bona-petit.html

  • dcclark

    July 21, 2009 12:28 am

    Excellent advice. #1 is by far the biggest problem I see when people use wide-angles -- they often use it to "get everything in" instead of getting up close and personal.

    Here's an additional bit of advice: be really careful when you have people in your photos. Wide angles "pull" the scene so much towards the edges, that they'll look unnatural. Of course, as always, you can mess around with this effect and get some cool results -- but make sure you know what you're doing! (I deliberately used this effect in Standing Tall for example, for a slightly funny bigfoot effect).

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Receive a FREE SAMPLE of our Portrait Photography Ebook

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

Sign up to the free DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download

GET DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS Feed

Sign up to the free

DPS PHOTOGRAPHY COURSE

  • Guaranteed for 2 full months
  • Pay by PayPal or CreditCard
  • Instant Digital Download
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER
DPS NEWSLETTER

DPS offers a free weekly newsletter with: 
1. new photography tutorials and tips
2. latest photography assignments
3. photo competitions and prizes

Enter your email below to subscribe.
Email:
 
 
Get DAILY free tips, news and reviews via our RSS feed