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

Started 2 months ago | Discussions thread
OP DMillier Forum Pro • Posts: 21,367
Re: Why I am I so bad composing with wide angle lenses?

Scottelly wrote:

DMillier wrote:

xpatUSA 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...

These seem relevant, Dave:



This one has a sting in the tail (pano vs. wide:


I find it odd that this is called perspective "distortion". My definition of distortion would be that it is an error that makes the image an inaccurate representation of the subject. But these and other articles make it clear, that when you get very close to something, this is exactly what you see. There is no distortion here, it should be called "Perspective accuracy"!

Actually I'm not sure if I'm reading the word perspective right, but there is definitely lots of distortion, when shooting really wide-angle stuff.

Notice how the vertical part of the building near the left edge of the photo does not actually look vertical? In real life it looked vertical, but when shooting it with a wide-angle lens, like the one I was using, the perspective was "stretched" or "warped" to make that part of the building look as if it was built on some weird angle, causing it to overhang. What gives it away that it wasn't really on an angle is the tree. Trees just don't grow like that. The tree makes it ovious that the lens has caused things that aren't really angled to look angled.

Yes. According to what I've been reading this happens because of rectilinear correction. With wide angles, the image should be curved. Optical correction to a rectangle causes objects at the edges and corners to become stretched and if the camera is pointed down or up, vertical lines leans inwards or outwards. The wider the lens, the more weird this can look.  Obviously it can be compositionally advantageous as well as troublesome - that link you sent me has the suggestion that if you have a background mountain that is diminished in size, positioning it at the top of the frame while angling the camera downwards, causes the mountain to get stretched and made to seem larger.

There is something they do in large format photography using tilts that I don't understand called "looming", Apparently it can make tiny foreground objects look enormous and dominate the frame.

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