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March 5, 2020

A Few Dos and Don'ts When Taking Wide Angle Photos

As more and more smartphones incorporate wide angle lenses into their camera systems, wide angle photography has become increasingly popular, even among casual photographers. While short focal length can add depth and create a feeling of inclusion, these special lenses can also easily be misused, leading to disappointing images.

Here are a few hands-on tips to help you take more impressive wide angle photographs.

Don't use a wide angle lens just to fit more in the frame. If there's plenty of space for you to step back and get yourself a broader angle, please do so. It's rather well-known that wide angle shots end up with barrel distortion, meaning the objects towards the edges of the frame are badly warped. When you're tempted to switch to wide angle mode, always ask yourself if there's really a point in all the extra space – if all it's added are distorted elements and stretched people, then stick to the standard mode.

Don't always go for a straight-on angle. Learn to shoot low.

A Few Dos and Don'ts When Taking Wide Angle Photos

Straight-on angle

A Few Dos and Don'ts When Taking Wide Angle Photos

Low angle

Of course, the distortion effect created by the shorter focal length is not always a bad thing – it can actually produce a unique look if you know how to work the scene. The elements in the corners of the frame, for instance, can be stretched out and magnified to produce some pretty dramatic aesthetics. This spatial relationship allows you to play with the two-dimensional medium of photography, making the viewer feel like they're in the scene themselves.

Pick your subject, and get up close to shoot it. Bring it into the foreground and make it stand out.
This is closely related to Tip 2, so feel free to look at the shots above for reference.

There always needs to be key subjects, i.e. a focus, regardless of the visual medium.

A Few Dos and Don'ts When Taking Wide Angle Photos

Here, the two redwoods closest to us instantly grab our attention. Their tall, straight trunks lead our eyes into the woods and up to the skies, making us feel like we're literally walking in the forest.

An interesting thing I noticed when I was taking pictures with my HONOR 9X, was that the phone's distortion correction is phenomenal.

When I first saw the warped trunks in the camera viewfinder, they didn't look particularly engaging:

A Few Dos and Don'ts When Taking Wide Angle Photos

But I pressed the shutter anyway, telling myself I'd crop it later. When I saw the finished shot though, I was amazed to see how well the camera had corrected the image. Rest assured that I haven't edited the picture. If I had, you'd know because the HONOR 9X logo would be distorted or cut out.

Don't trust me? You might need to get yourself a HONOR 9X and try it out for yourself then.