Krka National Park, Croatia

5 Strategies to Tame a Wide Angle Lens – Part 2

Continued from 5 Strategies to Tame a Wide Angle Lens – Part 1

Leave Room for Corrections

Sometimes you can’t avoid having converging verticals in your image. In this case, make sure you leave enough room around your main subject so that you can crop freely.

In the case of the image below, I had to point the camera slightly upwards, due to the height of the building, but I was careful not to completely fill the frame. When I straightened it in post (second image) I had to crop a bit of the blue sky, but that was no problem at all.

  • Nisyros, Greece

    Nisyros, Greece

  • Nisyros, Greece

    Nisyros, Greece

Choose Suitable Subjects

There’s a reason why people who are serious about photographing architecture use tilt-shift lenses. These lenses allow them to correct the perspective of buildings in-camera, without resorting to complicated post-processing steps at the computer. Nature photographers have it comparably easier because natural subjects rarely have straight, parallel edges; the effect of perspective distortion is less obvious.

If you choose subjects with lots of curved lines, you can shoot close to your foreground for more compelling compositions and not be bothered by converging verticals.

  • Krka National Park, Croatia

    Krka National Park, Croatia

  • Anak Krakatau, Indonesia

    Anak Krakatau, Indonesia

Embrace the Distortion

Even architectural subjects can look great if shot from a close distance and looking upwards, converging verticals be damned! This can add drama and make your subject look more imposing and majestic.

For these kind of shots, I recommend placing your subject right in the middle of the frame, ignoring the rule of thirds. If you put it on the side, it will look really bad.

  • Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset, UK

    Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset, UK

  • Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona, Spain

    Santa Maria del Mar, Barcelona, Spain

Conclusions

So, here you have it… a bag of tips to get the most out of your wide angle lens and to learn to love it. To summarize, the following:

  1. As much as possible, keep the sensor straight, perfectly vertical, and parallel to the front of your subject.
  2. Make your life in the digital darkroom easier by leaving space around the main subject.
  3. Stay away from your subject while, at the same time, striving for a compelling composition.
  4. Choose natural subjects with limited straight and parallel lines.
  5. Embrace the distortion and use it to make your subject loom larger-than-life.

About Author Ugo Cei

Ugo Cei is a fine-art travel and landscape photographer from Italy. He believes this is really an amazing planet that we live on and every place and every culture possesses beauty that deserves to be shown, so he tries to catch every available opportunity to travel and to create new images of foreign cities, their inhabitants and of natural landscapes.

He is passionate about sharing his knowledge and his work has been published on magazines and exhibited in art galleries worldwide. He is also the host of the popular travel photography podcast, The Traveling Image Makers.

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