Get close with a wide-angle lens.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by darinwc, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I've come to realize that when I use a wide angle lens, often I am not getting close enough to the subject to properly fill the frame.

    It seems natural to me when i encounter a gorgeous view to step back and try and take it all in. What I really need to do is step forward and making sure to get my main subject close enough to stand out. Otherwise the main feature I am trying to highlight ends up tiny and insignifigant.

    Am I crazy or what?
     
  2. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Using a wide angle lens up close is a great way and tool of using the near far relationship. However, keep in mind that there is an exageration of size of objects in the foreground in relation to those in the background. You may want to rethink your composition or what are the most important elements. The subject in the foreground will frequently become the most important or certainly one of the most important portions of the composition. Whether focus is held to rear of the image or not, the background can at least be used to identify the location (as an example mountains in the background).

    Rich
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I think that's right. One of the key things with a wide lens is to have some foreground interest.
     
  4. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    The wide angle lens is somewhat of a myth. As you note you cannot stand in the same position you would be with a 50mm (35mm format) and get a wider angle with a 28mm lens. What you get is pushed back (smaller image of larger area) from the same position. A true wide angle lens would let you stay in position and cover a larger area with the same size image. So what we accept as wide angle is really just a smaller image but more of it.
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    I sometimes think of what I do as swapping film formats instead of lenses. Like keeping the 90mm SA, but swapping from 4x5" to 5x7". Or in one extreme case swapping 5x7" for 30x40cm while keepin the 210mm focal length.

    I think the pictures I've taken with this mindset tends to be very different from those where I decide I need a wide-angle lens!
     
  6. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Wise, not crazy. From any viewpoint there may be many photogenic subjects. A wide angle lens lumps them all together. A telephoto is selective. Some photographers like the "get it all" approach. I like the ability of a longer lens to zero in on the best part of the whole. The wide angle approach does have one distinct advantage: it draws the viewers in and makes them more a part of the action.
     
  7. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Thats how I use my lenses.

    On 8x10, a long 19" lens will take in the 'grand view' with turning the mountains into itty bitty things while getting up clse and personal with a short-ish 9-1/2" or 10" lens will fill the gg with the rich details of a creek, boulder, or gnarly snag.

    Of course ther are exceptions, but thats the way it seems to work for me 8 or 9 times out of 10.
     
  8. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    I've allways managed beter compositions with longer lenses (in 35mm format). I have a 100mm f2.8 for my canon that I love dearly.

    I allways thought I just havent havent had the eye for landscapes. But in reviewing my negs I see that in most of them everything is just tiny. (this goes for all formats I shoot) I need to try getting closer. Really close considering the focal lengths I have.
     
  9. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Sounds like you might be happy with something on the order of a 300mm lens on a 4" x 5" camera if your camera can handle it.

    Rich
     
  10. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    For some reason I didnt like the 300mm focal length. I just got a 360mm and it feels just right.
     
  11. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Which lens and shutter did you purchase?

    Rich
     
  12. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Clyde Butcher uses wide angle lenses specifically to pull people into his photographs. I've seen photographs of him working, and he gets amazingly close to his subjects. He says he uses 121mm on an 8x10 and has the equivalent focal length for his other formats so he can get the same type of image regardless of format.

    As for getting closer, a lot of us could improve many of our photos by taking a few steps in.
    juan
     
  13. Poco

    Poco Member

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    "He says he uses 121mm on an 8x10"

    That's pretty wide and no small trick to use effectively. I used to have a Kodak D2 7x11 (its quirky format appealed to me) and sometimes I'd throw a 110mm on it just for kicks. When lining up the shot, I had to be careful not to get my ears in it ...that sucker was wiiiiiiide!
     
  14. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    It seems to me that personal "visions" differ - some prefer wide lenses, others long. And, that may change between formats. Regardless of one's focal length preference, it's still important to pay attention to what's on the GG, though.

    I forget who (in reference to 35mm RF photos) made the comment, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough." The same thought easily applies to LF work, too.
     
  15. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    "Which lens and shutter did you purchase?"

    I ended up with an Apo Artar 14" in an Ilex #4 shutter.
    The #4 shutter is big, but not huge, it's a close fit on a 4x4 lensboard.
     
  16. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    I agree, Juan. I became really enamored with wide angles at one time. I have 28s and even a 19mm for 35mm, and 55s for 120. I used to use them most of the time.

    I am currently in the middle of a project that would tend to call for these lenses (buildings and architecture). However, as I look at my contact sheets, I see more and more negs where I should have just gotten closer, and/or used a longer lens. My shots of the whole building (inside or out) are fine with the wides, but details of the buildings tend to have too much "stuff" surrounding the "detail". I should get closer! It's been a revelation. :smile:

    Cheers, y'all.
     
  17. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    I hate to quote Ansel Adams as I am not a huge fan but his description of lens focal lengths really sums it up for me.. the focal length really determines how much stuff (not his words) you want in background. You might do better to look up his explanation in "The Camera".
     
  18. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Over the years I have made most of my exposures with moderate telephotos. In fact I imagine that I have made less then twenty exposures total in the last twenty years with my 90 SA. I always found wides to be difficult for me to use. Recently I have begun using the 90 with a vengeance. Yes getting closer is vital, in my experience, and furthermore they do seem to draw one into the image.
     
  19. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    I hardly ever used WA until I started with LF - or rather, until I started with 5x7"! Only when I got a camera big enough to see the whole picture, did I start using really wide lenses. So a 90mm on 5x7", 121mm on 8x10", 150 on 9.5x12" and 210mm on 12x16" are what I use about half the time. Interestingly it's spread to the smaller formats as well, so I now use 18 and 21mm on 35mm, and 40mm on 120...
     
  20. Poco

    Poco Member

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    For all those commenting on wides "drawing you in," why do you suppose that is? Is there more to it than the almost inevitable inclusion of the ground at the bottom of the shot, placing the viewer in the scene as opposed to distantly viewing it?
     
  21. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Michael,

    Using a wide angle lens close to the subject and particularly when the image extends from the lower edge of the frame does basically include or allows the the viewer to enter and "travel" through the scene- it is certainly more intimate. This is particularly effective when the actual image is large. For my own work this is particularly noticed and effective when the image size reaches (or larger than) 20" x 30" from 35mm transparencies and 24" x 30" from 4" x 5" transparencies. When the image is printed to this size, in many instances, the image is approximating the size and scope of the scene as it was photographed.

    Rich
     
  22. GerardF

    GerardF Member

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    Robert Capa, I believe