Imagine yourself standing in the middle of a commercial area of a city, such as the heart of a normally bustling, city street, once the day is ended or perhaps on an evening or weekend. This is a rare photographic opportunity to begin shooting empty city streets and many unique buildings. Such opportunities like these are important in your photographic journey. Shooting empty streets can also be seen as a chance to explore the many ways that a good wide angle lens can be used to take pictures in a popular city environment. This is because the impressive array of tall structures and the interesting panoramas of the neighborhood are all great subjects for the wide angle lens.
It is necessary to first view the range of lenses that fall under the wide angle description. These can be the more traditional 24 and 35mm options. Alternatively, they can range from 14 to 21mm (known as “UW” or Ultra Wide), and even to the 6 and 15mm versions which are called “Fisheye” lenses. Each will create a very distinct set of results, and a photographer will have to know when to use, or when to entirely avoid using, such lenses.
Let’s just look at the very farthest extreme – the Fisheye – in order to determine its “useability”. The entire purpose of a Fisheye is to create an interesting distortion because it is geared at photographing in an almost 360-degree fashion (when at the 6mm setting). It almost looks as if the pictures peripheral view is being stretched beyond the normal boundaries and limitations of normal lenses. It curves and bends the image significantly. We use these lenses of very, very large views. These are also used in advertising and promotional photography.
Interestingly enough, this is the sort of lens that could be applied in an interesting way when used in all aspects of city photography. For example, let’s return that semi-abandoned street scene, at night time, and turn the lens directly across the street towards and old building, with perhaps a moving car for a different effect. If we are standing on a relatively quiet street at night time, with very little traffic then we can easily capture an image not unlike the inside of a cathedral. Clearly this means that we might find a few creative ways to employ a fisheye lens in a traditional urban setting.
Next, we can think about using the Ultra Wide angle lenses in a way that is productive and effective. If we understand that landscape photography is often the major area where wide angle lenses are used, we can figure out a few good places to put the Ultra Wide into use while in the city. We might head to the park to get a panoramic view of the surrounding neighborhoods, or we might head down to the waterfront to capture the nighttime skyline and its impressive reflection in the waters below.
There are many types of beautiful wide angle lenses, the Ultra Wide type of lens, such as the marvelous fisheye is just one of the many available on the market today. It’s important, however, when you do choose a very wide angle, that they won’t apply in all situations and that they are designed for a certain effect.
Otherwise you may prefer your traditional wide angle lens, which can offer simply stunning results. Depending on what you prefer, a 35mm lens will work well for landscapes as well as some room and garden shots. You can get a lovely perspective on these scenes around the home. Using a soft morning light with a 35mm lens in a garden can offer some beautiful results, just as an example.
It is important to remember that perspective is always affected by the wide angle lens, and paying close attention to the distortion of the foreground or the horizon is an absolute “must” in order to obtain the best results.
Article provided by Amy Renfrey