Why I am I so bad composing with wide angle lenses?

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
OP DMillier Forum Pro • Posts: 21,386
Re: Why I am I so bad composing with wide angle lenses?
1

SigmaChrome wrote:

DMillier wrote:

I used to love wide angle lenses - I thought they produced very dramatic imagery.

Nowadays I shoot almost always with longer focal lengths, even for landscapes. I find that using wide angles almost always results in terrible compositions.

Question is, why? Ultra wide angles are very popular these days, everyone uses them, often with great success. But I can't shoot anything wider than 35mm equivalent without getting poor compositions.

Why do I find wider lenses so hard to compose with? There must be something about the characteristics of wide lenses that is hard to control...

I have the same problem, Dave.

I agree, ultra wide angle lenses are really hard to compose with and I think it's because they overwhelm you when you're composing in the viewfinder. You simply can't easily see the world in wide angle. It's much easier to isolate smaller segments of a scene. I think this has a lot to do with how our eyes work. We can only focus on a tiny area of the world at a time.

For me the answer is to divide the scene up into segments whilst also keeping enough interest in the foreground -- but not too much; that's the part I seem to have trouble with. Sometimes it takes me a long time to do this, so I try to work out my compositions hours or sometimes a day before I take the shot. Even then it doesn't always work. Maybe that's just me.

There are plenty of ultra wide shooters who get the compsition wrong but somehow still manage to create a spectacular photo by wowing the viewer with lots of colour and drama. I'm sure you've seen plenty of shots like this on 1x.

I think one of my issues is that I like simple compositions, tightly framed, using the frame edges as part of the composition. Wide angles tend to introduce unexpected, unwanted elements at the edges. There is also the issue of leaning elements and stretched elements that I don't like.  And it makes everything very small, so only things close to the camera have substance.

Yet.... other people make beautiful images with them! In some cases you don't even really realise they are wide angle shots, with natural unforced composition.

I can't seem to do it

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