Photography Tips: Look for Layers with Your Wide Angle Lens

Most modern DSLR camera systems come with a wide angle lens or wide angle zoom lens. At first thought, it’s easy to think that this lens was included simply because it allows you to stand back and take in an entire wide angle scene. In fact, it’s true that this style lens is great for standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and shooting an image that tries to give the viewer an idea of just how grand this canyon really is. But the wide angle lens is far more useful than this obvious technique.

In my opinion, the most powerful aspect of this style lens is that it allows the photographer to build three-dimensional like depth in a flat photographic space. If used correctly, the wide angle allows the photographer to get close then build an image that contains foreground, midground and background elements. In some cases, the closer the better. And if you stay on the same level as your primary subject you will also avoid distortion common with many wide angle lenses. Building images with a wide angle isn’t easy, and it takes practice, but once you are familiar with this style of photography you will be capable of capturing images that allow the viewer to “travel” through your photographs, spending time searching for the next layer of information or movement. “Working wide” also forces you to get close and engage with those people you are working with. The ultimate wide angle image contains not only the layering but great light working throughout all the layers.

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