How to Get the Most Out of Your Wide Angle Lens

Wide angle lenses are an obvious choice when it comes to landscape and street photography. They offer a wide angle of view thereby getting everything (with a capital E) in the frame. That’s an excellent thing. However, it also has its downsides. Photographer Mark Wallace shares a few simple tips on how to get the best images with your wide angle lens:

Getting everything in front of you in the picture is an exciting proposition if you’re a landscape or street photographer. You would think getting the ‘big picture’ could never be wrong. However, as Wallace explains in this video, sometimes when you aspire to get everything in the shot, you don’t have a clear picture. There’s no obvious subject and your images are just clutter. These are three tips that you can use to improve your wide angle lens results.

1. Have a dominant subject in your photos

As you might have realized by now, getting everything in the frame isn’t always a great thing. Having a dominant subject in the frame, however, is. A dominant subject is often the difference between chaos and order.

tips on using a wide angle lens

Machu Pichu

dominant subject

Use a dominant subject in your wide angle compositions

The photo of Machu Pichu was shot using a Canon 16–35mm f/2.8 L lens. The ruins themselves stand out as the dominating subject in the photo. So, although the image gets almost everything in it, it still does have a dominant subject. The second shot has the boats as the dominating subject.

2. Get close to your subject

wide angle lens

A shot captured by Wallace with a wide angle

A wide angle lens compels you to get close to your subject. It’s a requirement for filling the frame. Wallace, carries a Leica mirrorless digital rangefinder camera, which he admits won’t let you get too close with a wide angle lens. But if you’re using a DSLR with a wide angle lens, you can get within inches of your subject and capture a stunning perspective. The following images also show that with a short focal length you can get extremely close to your subject.

using a wide angle lens

Getting close when using a wide angle lens allows you to fill the frame

composition tips for wide angle lens

A wide angle lens allows you to get a close perspective

3. Use leading lines in your compositions

leading lines in compositions

wide angle lenses allow you to use leading lines in your compositions

Just because a wide angle lens is well, so wide, it tends to encompass a lot of the scene. That works to our advantage when we want to incorporate simple rules of composition such as leading lines in our photos. As Wallace puts it, “Try to frame your shots so that lines are leading us into your image.” What tips do you have for wide angle photography?

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One Comment

  1. Ian Ford says:

    Thanks Mark. Great video. The examples really help make the point. I found the alleyway one most helpful

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