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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.
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