Three Tips for Using a Wide Angle Lens

Well one the most challenging things for any photographer is shooting with a wide angle lens. Now the reason for that is we tend to think of wide angle lenses as lenses that can get everything in the shot and that’s fantastic, but one of the problems with that is when we get everything in the shot sometimes, and a lot of the times actually.

We just don’t have any subjects so we just have everything in and really nothing draws our eye into the photo so in this episode I’m going to give you three tips to get the most out of your wide-angle lens and first I’m going to show you some photos I’ve shot with a couple wide angle lenses. And then we are gonna put it into practice I’m going to be walking the streets and shooting with my 21mm lens right here. Well first we will take a look at a few shots and walk through the three things that you can do to get the most out of your lens. The first thing is to make sure you have a dominant or predominant subject in your photo. Now one of my favorite wide-angle lenses is the Canon 16-35mm lens and I’ve shot all over the world with that. I shot this image of Machu Picchu with that lens and notice that Machu Picchu is obviously the subject of this photo but using a wide angle lens, I get everything in that shot.

I also was able to take that to the Amazon rainforest and I shot this image. A couple of images of a River but notice I don’t just have the entire river I haven’t anchor to those photos those are the boats that are on the shore, so I’m anchoring that wide angle shot with a dominant subject. The boats. Now I’m also able to use this shot in a very busy, commercial complex in downtown Bangkok and noticed this street we have this sort of a three-dimensional effect the wide angle lens is one of the reasons we use wide angle lens is it pulls our eye into that subject, but the shopping center is definitely the dominant subject in this photo. Well that’s the first thing you need to do, the second thing we need to do is to get closer to our subject.

Now if there is anything I’d like you to take away from this video that’s it when you’re using a wide angle lens it’s really an up close len’s after using a mirrorless camera like my Leica here, or a Sony A7 or many of the mirrorless cameras, you can’t get too close with the wide angle lens. If you’re using a DSLR though with the lens like the 16-35 you can get inches away from your subject on these pictures that I shot I was very very close in fact on Lake Titicaca I shot this picture of this boat. The boat is our dominant subject. I was about maybe 12 inches from the front of that boat. Really, really close. But because that lens is so wide you can’t really see it. Now I met with two amazing photographers in Argentina this is at Mag and Martin, Mag Alvarez and Martin Epelde. They are the inspiration for me to go and shoot Patagonia.

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They taught me all this stuff about where to go and what to do. This shot of them was taken with my 21mm lens at about a foot and a half maybe two feet away from them. Here’s Mags signing her book that she did on New York City – it really is an amazing shot, I was extremely close and you can see the shot of some people I shot on the subway. I was just about a foot and a half maybe two feet from these people are falling asleep on the subway so get close, get close, get close when you are using a wide angle lens and if nothing else hear me say get close and this third thing you can do with a wide angle lens, because it gives you that 3D feel. It’s pulling you in leading lines, those lines that lead us into photos can be used to our advantage, so when you’re framing your shot try to frame your shots so that lines are leading us into our image. All right now we know those three things what we want to do is head out here in Hanoi and put them all into practice so let’s do that next.

Alright one of the advantages of using a wide angle lens, and you’ll have to pardon the music that’s being blasted down the streets, we’re not sure why. But evidently it’s a public feature here in Hanoi, but one of the wide angle lens features is that you get extreme field of sharpness, you have everything in focus from the beginning to the end, of this very nice lady here, who has allowed me to take pictures of her vegetable stand. I shot some images earlier and I was able to get the vegetables right in front of the lens all the way to her totally in focus and using the steps as the leading lines to point us from the vegetables to the owner of the shop I really like this picture and it uses all of the three things that we talked about earlier getting close, having a predominant feature or subject in our frame and using leading lines.Well Hanoi has all kinds very interesting little alleyways like this one know what I could do and I have done is to stand back.

Use my wide angle lens to get this entire entryway and the alley, you see everything, I got everything in the shot but it doesn’t really pull us into the scene so what I can do is use two of those things I talked about earlier getting closer and using leading lines to pull me into the subject. So this sign right here – If I really fill the frame with this, this is my dominant subject or my foreground interest I can also use these lines right here to pull the viewer into the scene and point their eyes to the back of the alley and I’ll do just that. But I really want to stop this lens down to about 5.6. The sun’s going down here and it’ss really sort of dark so to shoot it 5.6 and still have a shutter speed of about 1/60 of a second.

I’ve increased my ISO, to ISO 800 a lot of people ask me why do you increase your ISO, it looks great. On video looks like it’s nice and bright but in reality it’s sorta dark right now, we have about half an hour before the sun goes down so now you know why the ISO is pumped up. So lets take a shot of this. I’ll get close, I’ll compose the leading lines and I’ll show you the difference, so let’s just take a look at this. Get right up there, there we go I love that. That looks so much better. Now we can compare the wide angle shot to the closer shot with the leading lines and I think you’ll agree that the closer shot wins. Well I got permission to take some pictures are these roles and bamboo shoots here. Now first I am going to do this the way that’s the wrong way, I’m going to take a wide angle shot of these rolls here and you can see that it’s just a street scene there’s not much to it.

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I need to get closer and show that as close as I can, so I’m going to get right in there. About like that and now you can really frame the shot up the way I want. Ah you see it now, this is the predominant thing in our shot, you can see that getting close is the better option. Well there you have it using a wide angle lens. Remember have a predominant subject get close to your subject and use leading lines and you really get much better images and if nothing else please hear me say get close, get close, get close. A wide angle lenses is for close up photography. Not I to remind you that Exploring Photography is brought to you by Adorama, it’s the camera store that you can get anything you can possibly imagine any gear, any audio gear, and video gear, tripods you name it you can get it at So check that out. The great thing about Adorama is they don’t just sell you the gear they are going to support you with free education and you can get all that education right here on YouTube just click the subscribe button in that way you get all of Adroama TV absolutely free, you won’t miss a single episode and in addition to that there is the Adorama Learning Center there’s tons of articles hundreds maybe thousands even, articles about everything that is conceivable about photography, videography, post-production check that out.

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