Monday, November 15, 2010

Super wide angles

Wide-angle lenses can be a lot of fun. Super wides are super fun. I liked the Voigtländer 15/4.5 Super Wide Heliar the moment I tried it, and it has since become one of my favourite lenses. It's tiny, sharp, and gives that extremely wide view on film — or a full-frame digital Leica. Using a wide-angle lens is however often quite challenging. They are pretty much the worst enemies of simplification, which is an important tool of good photography. If you have a single point of interest in your scene, a wide-angle lens can easily make it too small and distant. Let's look at a few photographs fresh from the scanner.

In this following photo, the temple entrance is very distant and occupies a rather small part of the resulting photograph. It is however the pseudo-symmetry of this image, the reflections on wet ground, and the leading line of the people that still make it work fairly nicely. I don't know if I like the helicopter in the sky, but I didn't want to remove it as it seems the people are looking at it.

Tokyo, 2010 - Kodak BW400CN

In the next photograph, I wanted to show the size of the fortress. It gets somewhat cluttered, however the clutter is created by repetitive shapes. That's not a no-no in my books.

Iraklion, Crete, 2010 - Kodak BW400CN

Wide-angle treatment can be effective for close-ups, too. You can either put some distance between your main subject and the background, or you can play the clutter card to your advantage. In this photo, I wanted to show the large pile of Hello Kitty's inside this UFO catcher.

Tokyo, 2010 - Kodak BW400CN

This is a nice lens on the digitals, too. Here's a past post featuring a photo with the Leica M8.