A wide-angle lens is considered an essential piece of gear for any landscape photographer because it gives you a perspective that you cannot achieve with any other lens. You’ll not only be able to photograph grand vistas, but you’ll see lines in a different way, and emphasize subjects by getting super close.
So if you haven’t tried one yet, borrow or rent a wide angle lens and get ready to make images with a different flavour using these tips.
What is a wide-angle lens?
Camera lenses are defined by comparison to the field of view that the eye naturally sees – which is 50mm on a full frame camera or 35mm on a crop sensor camera. This is known as a normal focal length. Any wider than that is a considered wide-angle.
My favourite wide-angle lens is in the 10-20mm range on my crop sensor camera, or 16-35mm on a full frame camera.
When to use a wide-angle lens
Many people think the purpose of a wide-angle lens is to photograph grand vistas and get a lot in the frame. While that is one purpose for a wide-angle lens, its real power is in using its perspective to emphasize objects that are very close to you and de-emphasizing objects that are farther away.
1. Emphasize a foreground element
Wide-angle lenses allow you to get really close to something in the foreground, which will emphasize it and make it look larger and more important than the background elements. A wide lens has a way of changing the relative size of the objects in the frame, so that things that are closer to the lens appear larger, and things in the background appear smaller proportionally.
Try using a low angle and getting very close to your main subject. By close, I mean inches away. You’ll be surprised when you look through the viewfinder and discover that objects don’t appear quite so close through the lens.