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  1. #1
    Eugen Mezei's Avatar
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    Excessive use of wide angles?

    I realise this don't really fit here but I found no subforum about photographing tehniques.

    Are you disturbed by the excessive use of wide angle lenses? (I suppose mostly zooms.)
    I am, reason is the distorsion they give.

    Look at this picture for example:
    http://adevarul.ro/assets/adevarul.r...82d4/978x0.jpg

    Was it necessary to be shot witha wide angle? A few steps back would have done the same without ditorting the margins.

    When did it become common place in reportage photography to use wide angle lenses just because we could?
    I don't see this type of images in the reportages of the 70s and 80s.
    Just because these days every reporter has a zoom going from extreme wide angle into the telephoto does this make it necessary every second picture shows egg shaped and plated heads? I can accept these picutres as a compromise when the shot could not be taken otherwise. But often this is not the case. Very often.

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    I guess one would have to be there to know for sure. It would be safe to assume that the crowd of people completely surrounded the vehicle and backing up to photograph would not be an option.

    Focal length is a 'tool', and as with any tool, it should be used properly. I maintain 20 enlargers for the university and have a big rubber mallet. I have used it a couple times in the past 20+ years...but never to adjust the alignment.
    Last edited by Vaughn; 08-07-2013 at 11:52 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  3. #3
    Tom1956's Avatar
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    I believe it could be agreed that the inbreeding of the media orthodoxy is quite obvious in copycat techniques in both writing and photography. They seem enthralled with wide angle lenses, and have been for quite some time.

  4. #4
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eugen Mezei View Post
    Are you disturbed by the excessive use of wide angle lenses? (I suppose mostly zooms.)
    I am, reason is the distorsion they give.

    Just because these days every reporter has a zoom going from extreme wide angle into the telephoto does this make it necessary every second picture shows egg shaped and plated heads? I can accept these picutres as a compromise when the shot could not be taken otherwise. But often this is not the case. Very often.
    I have been bothered by this as well. As you say, a compromise when an image cannot be made another way...? Absolutely, especially in journalism.

    That being said, I find the distortion produced by an extreme wide-angle to be incredibly distracting and that it has the effect of pulling me OUT of the scene. Of course there are cases where I think it has been well used, but not often. In my own work I try to avoid the extremes of focal length, both long and wide, so as not to make the optical qualities of my lenses the focal point of my photographs.

    To each their own...

  5. #5
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Think of it from the perspective of a news photographer - you're in a situation that is extremely dynamic and fluid, and events are unfolding in front of you at lightning pace. Your first and foremost concern is to get the image, and get it into the hands of your editor as fast as possible. Taking time to change lenses or move to a different vantage point to aesthetically improve an image in a way that 99.99% of your viewers will not be concerned about will cost you the shot. It also means hauling around that much more gear that slows you down, weighs you down, and makes you more of a target for thieves and/or enemy combatants who nowadays like to shoot journalists and EMTs as much as they do their enemies. A zoom lens it is, then. The journalist is not taking photos to appease your sense of aesthetics, they're taking it to convey information and to make money for themselves and their editors. When you can plan ahead for something, sure, by all means, use a normal prime lens, but when your back may be up against a wall (sometimes literally), you want an adaptable tool.

  6. #6
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Absolutely, Scott. And the OP said as much... "I can accept these picutres as a compromise when the shot could not be taken otherwise. But often this is not the case. Very often."

    And of course they are not out to appease the OP's (or my) sense of aesthetics. But most serious photojournalists certainly photograph with aesthetics in mind, at least the good ones.

    A quick look at the history of photojournalism shows that great images can be made without ultrawide lenses, and is still being done so today.

  7. #7

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    The same scene taken with a normal lens would not have the same impact. Often the distortion of a wide angle is desired.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  8. #8
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Your first and foremost concern is to get the image, and get it into the hands of your editor as fast as possible.
    ...they're taking it to convey information and to make money for themselves and their editors.
    I do think these are excellent points...

    On another note, I first started seeing this pervasive use of ultra wides in early 1990s skateboard photography...

  9. #9
    Slixtiesix's Avatar
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    Wide angles definitely have become more popular during the last decade and it is true that their use has become somewhat excessive.
    The fact that extreme wide angle lenses, that were exotic and expensive tools 20 years ago, have become cheap mass produced items now also may have helped this. Personally, I find this trend somewhat tiring. Especially in people photography, I find it rather accounts of a lack of technical knowledge, not to say good taste. Nothing against a good WA architecture or landscape, but today the shortness of focal length used sometimes seems immoderate to me.

  10. #10

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    I think the example in the OP is kind of poor. The wide angle does work (imho) but I definitely agree that wide angles have become VERY popular to shoot with. Not sure why but I'm seeing it a ton in automotive photography. The distortion is "cool" when it makes the wheels look angled in.

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