Recently a fellow contributor to Apartment Therapy bought herself a new wide angle lens and asked if I had any advice before setting out to shoot one of her tours. Shooting with a wider lens, especially if you're coming from a fixed lens such as a 50 mm, is astonishing and fun. There's just so much more picture in your picture! Here's my take on a wide angle.
• Now, more than ever, it's imperative to get your camera with its wider lens onto a tripod. With a tripod, you're much more likely to get the nice parallel lines and prevent distortion while making your images look super professional. You can fix a lot in post production, but it's much better and more reliable to take your time and shoot properly. If you decide to fake it because you can't get your hands on a tripod, use walls and furniture to reduce blur and get crisp photos.
• Keep people and major subjects in the center of the frame with a wide lens, as the sides tend to get a little distorted — no one wants a giant forehead because they are at the side of the image and their face is getting stretched. (This happened to me in some of my wedding photos; not pretty!).
• Usually, wider lenses have a higher f-stop, so if you're working in manual mode, crank your f-stop all the way down to 3.5, 4 or 5.6 and push your ISO a little high, around 400-800, to get maximum light sensitivity. Shutter speed can be at 80-100. This balance is critical when you're indoors shooting interiors — this is just a rough suggestion here though. You may be in different conditions, such as bright, sunny room or a dark basement, where your settings will be very different.
• A wide angle lens can be tough for photographing vignettes/details. I suggest switching to your kit lens or a fixed lens for those types of photographs, as they've got that lower f-stop for maximum depth of field, and it's easier to isolate the subject.
• Lastly, enjoy the full frame! Use every inch! Things can really get dramatic as so much information exists on one picture plane. I love this about shooting with a wide lens — pay attention to the figure/ground relationship, because there's a whole lot more foreground when shooting this way.
Leela the Photo Magician
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross for Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, all shot with a wide angle lens)