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Using a wide-angle lens

From: Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

Video: Using a wide-angle lens

So some friends here in San Francisco are throwing a house concert. We've got in someone's house and reshaped it into a concert space. We moved some furniture around, we've got a nice little performance space, we have a great crowd of fun people who have shown up to watch the show, and we've got two great performers, a singer-songwriter named Larry Gallagher and a poet named George Bilgere. Even if you think you don't like poetry, George's poems are really a lot of fun. So we've got this wonderful event here of an evening on a Saturday night, and I want to shoot it.

Using a wide-angle lens

So some friends here in San Francisco are throwing a house concert. We've got in someone's house and reshaped it into a concert space. We moved some furniture around, we've got a nice little performance space, we have a great crowd of fun people who have shown up to watch the show, and we've got two great performers, a singer-songwriter named Larry Gallagher and a poet named George Bilgere. Even if you think you don't like poetry, George's poems are really a lot of fun. So we've got this wonderful event here of an evening on a Saturday night, and I want to shoot it.

Now, I'm thinking predominantly, probably the lens I'm going to be working with, and this may come as a surprise is an ultra-wide angle. A lot of people think ultra-wide angle? But that's for shooting the Grand Canyon, that's for shooting Monument Valley, because those are big wide spaces. That type of lens doesn't work too well there. It's much better in a smaller space like this. What a wide-angle lens is going to give me is the ability to capture the performer and the audience so that I can better see the relationship and see how close they are, and see what a tight intimate space this is. I'm not going to be shooting exclusively with an ultra-wide.

I'm going to be using a fisheye also, and I will also be using a telephoto to get some close-ups. But I really think I'm going to stick with the fisheye. I'm going to try some of the other lenses. I'm not sure what's going to work the best. Did I say fisheye, I mean wide-angle. I'm going to work mostly with both of those. I'm going to shift around some. That's how you do an event like this. You try a lot of different things and see what works. So the show is going to start in a minute. I'm going to try some things, see what works, see what doesn't. George Bilgere: ...and water the yard, fiddling with the nozzle, misting this, showering that.

Sometimes in the hot twilight, my sisters and I would run in our swimsuits through the grass while he followed us with a cold beam of water. (music playing) Ben: The first set is over. We're taking a break here.

Everyone is off to enjoy themselves and mingle, while I reassess my shooting strategy. This has been very interesting. I am glad that I have the ultra-wide. I'm shooting with a Canon 16-35 f/2.8L, which is a really nice lens for a space like this. So I can get it open pretty wide if I need to, I've got to watch depth of field at that point, and I've got a lot of field of view to work with that's letting me get interesting compositions of the performers and the audience. But there are some really tricky bits. That lens is so wide that I'm picking up lights in my frame, lights that are really blowing out a lot.

They're even screwing up my exposure. Sometimes they're causing the foreground to go dark. So, I'm needing to compensate for that to try and brighten up the foreground, which is causing the lights to go brighter. I'm trying to compose around them. I'm trying to knock them out of the frame, but very often that ends up pretty dramatically changing my composition. It's another thing about an ultra-wide lens that you really need to remember, a tiny little motion really changes the relationships of the things in your scene. And I'm finding that to be a pretty critical observation while I'm shooting, particularly as I'm shooting through the crowd.

To change the relationship with the performer to the crowd requires only a tiny little movement. I'm trying to think about how big I want the performer to be. I can't make them--that makes it because it's a really wide-angled lens, but I can raise them up above the crowd with just a little bit of a camera movement at the same time I'm needing to worry about my corners and figure out where all my lines are going. It's a lot to look at. You've got to take your time, move slowly, make sure that your exposure is set. Make sure that you're getting good exposure so that you can focus on your composition. I am also finding that once I get all of that done, there's this whole other thing to think about, which is what does the performer look like? It's really easy to get focused on all the details in your frame and not realize that when you're taking the shot their tongue's hanging out their mouth or something.

So what I'm finding I am doing is getting the shots set, then watching them, being very careful not to move, waiting until a good moment and shooting, I am also shooting a lot. I'm changing lenses up. I'm not just shooting with the wide angle. I put the telephoto on. I had our 100 to 400 on. I shot with a lens maybe. I shot with my 24 to 105. The 24 to 105 actually goes pretty wide so that was giving me a nice in-between, between an ultra-wide and a more normal lens. It gave me a little telephoto reach. And I'm doing a lot of different things, trying to find what I like and what gives me some variety, but I'm really sticking with this wide-angle approach, and that's making me very excited to try something else, which is my 15-mm fisheye, and you're going to see that next.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

50 video lessons · 17173 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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