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Working with fisheye lenses

From: Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

Video: Working with fisheye lenses

Earlier, you saw me shoot this house concert that we've set up here with a bunch of different lenses. I was primarily working with my ultra-wide- angle lens, and I shot the first half of the show, George Bilgere a poet, and Larry Gallagher, a singer-songwriter. And I was focusing mostly on using my ultra-wide. At intermission I kind of stopped and reassessed what I was doing and realized I was really looking forward to using the fisheye. And I've done that now, and it's been very interesting. I have a 15-mm fisheye and my ultra-wide is a 16-35. It's only a 1 mm difference between the fisheye and the widest angle on my 16-35, but there's more than just the focal length there.

Working with fisheye lenses

Earlier, you saw me shoot this house concert that we've set up here with a bunch of different lenses. I was primarily working with my ultra-wide- angle lens, and I shot the first half of the show, George Bilgere a poet, and Larry Gallagher, a singer-songwriter. And I was focusing mostly on using my ultra-wide. At intermission I kind of stopped and reassessed what I was doing and realized I was really looking forward to using the fisheye. And I've done that now, and it's been very interesting. I have a 15-mm fisheye and my ultra-wide is a 16-35. It's only a 1 mm difference between the fisheye and the widest angle on my 16-35, but there's more than just the focal length there.

The ultra-wide-angle has some rectilinear correction that straightens outlines, and the fisheye doesn't. And when you get into focal lengths that short, a single millimeter can make a big change in field of view. So switching to this fisheye really changes what I'm seeing. I get a much wider angle. Now, in addition to the 15-mm fisheye, I also have an 8-15-mm zoom fisheye. A couple of trade-offs between these two lenses, they both go 15, so ultimately they have the same field of view at the long end. But my 15-mm prime is faster, so for shooting in low light like this, I can get a wider aperture which can be nice.

However, with the really wide field of view, sometimes I was needing to stop down. Anyway, so I decided to switch to the 8-15, and go for the really, really super fishy fisheye. So the trick with the 8-15 is that when you zoom out all the way, you actually don't have a full-framed image. You have this very strangely, bordered, much smaller than a full-frame image that's got a whole bunch of distortion in it. What's nice about it is on the edges you really get distortion, you really get blurred lines, you really get this very abstract geometry coming in.

So I tried a few shots like that and then started experimenting with, because of the light in here slowing my shutter down and spinning the camera during a long shutter release. This worked okay. What I meant was that the center of my image stayed mostly--I'm not going to say sharp, but recognizably in focus. But because I had such a tremendously wide field of view, I got lots and lots of smearing around the edge of the image. Again, I'm just looking for a way of adding some dynamism to what is a pretty static scene. So I was experimenting with that sum with the 8-15.

I didn't switch back to my normal 15 and did a lot of other shooting. And I mentioned before it goes faster. It can open all the way to 2.8. Normally 2.8 would be extremely shallow depth of field, and it is still extremely shallow depth of field on this lens. But because the distant objects appear so far away, you don't notice that shallow depth of field as much. You don't notice that they're defocusing as much, so using that lens in low light is still pretty practical. Now, of course, one thing about the fisheye is everything looks really far away. It is really wide angle, so I took the opportunity to get in closer.

It takes some nerve. This is a somewhat controlled situation. This is just a house concert with some friends, so I didn't feel bad about crawling up closer at some point and trying to really get in tight with the fisheye. I was being careful not to do that during particularly quiet songs, and I didn't do that during any of George's reading. I didn't want to be too distracting, but getting in close allowed me to crop out some extra details but still play with that wide-angle stuff. Particularly with Larry, I was able to get down to just him on a really wide background, which gave me this kind of nice environmental portrait.

So fisheyes are really interesting way to work in this situation. They obviously give you the very wide field of view, but almost more than that, what I like about them is just those fun lines you get to play with. Again, if you're dealing with static subjects, a guy reading poetry, this can be an interesting way of mixing it up and adding a little more life to the image. You just got to be careful about how wide things go, how distorted things are, the relationship with everything to each other in the frame, and where your lights are. This requires a very, very careful eye for composition, and in that regard it's a really good exercise because it really makes you pay attention to the entire frame.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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

50 video lessons · 17172 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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