Getting Close When Shooting Wide-Angle Photography

Use your wide-angle lens to create a three-dimensional-like look!

by Kerry Drager

The wide-angle lens's unique visual perspective gives you the ability to combine nearby details with far-off views in a single picture. This is what makes the wide-angle lens such an amazing tool for outdoor scenic photography. Learn how to make the most of your wide-angle lens today!

Desert Rock Frame
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Getting Depth in Your Wide-Angle Photography is Easy

With a foreground-to-background approach, you can produce a dynamic three-dimensional effect that gives viewers a real sense of place.

Unfortunately, the wide-angle's wide-ranging perspective is also what makes this focal length such a challenge. The tendency is to back up to get more into the picture, which commonly leads to either a "busy" look or to vast empty spaces.

Sunset on California Coast
© Kerry Drager
All Rights Reserved

Move In Close to a Foreground Object

The keys to success? Think FOREGROUND and move CLOSER!

Zero in very tight on an eye-catching object so it fills a good chunk of the picture frame while still retaining background features.

How close should you get to your foreground object? The nearest point in my wide-angle scenics is often about an arm's length away or even closer.

Incidentally, your foreground border also can help clean up a composition: by hiding a blank sky or by concealing any distracting objects.

Great Depth of Field for Great Wide-Angle Photos

In most wide-angle scenic situations, you'll want everything sharp - from front to back - since a great Depth of Field leads to a great feeling of space. Thus, for maximum sharpness, go with a very small lens opening (high f/stop number).

For precise DOF, use the preview mode or program found on many SLRs, check the scale markings on the barrel of some lenses, or use a hyperfocal chart. No DOF modes, guides, or charts? Then set your focusing point just beyond the closest spot in the scene (while also setting the f/stop for a small aperture) or set your focus one-third up from the bottom of the picture frame.

Finally: When working in close, even a small camera shift can mean a big compositional difference. That's why I use the "accessory photographers love to hate": a tripod!

About Author Kerry Drager

Author: Kerry  Drager

To learn more about photography, explore the photography classes offered here at BetterPhoto.