Wide Angle 10mm Lens

7 Building Blocks of Photography 2

10mm wide angle lenses are fantastic for capturing dramatic shots and for that feeling of being up close and intimate with the subject. So I went out onto the forest near my home early one morning whilst the sun was still low and the light perfect for this kind of thing.

The goal was 3 quick and easy shots. I believe it's better to go home with just a few shots you've thought through and love - rather than taking loads in the hope there's a good one in there somewhere.

Wide angle lenses have a wide field of view, hence the name.  They naturally distort a bit, but this is a great tool for photographers to capture drama, especially when looking up at tall subjects like trees. Looking up from a low level point of view is almost always eye catching because it’s an angle we don’t usually see the world around us from. That makes your compositions different from the norm.

When you point a wide lens upwards, tall straight things like tree trunks or buildings get closer together as the distance from the camera increases. It’s called convergence and in some scenarios it’s a pain.

When photographing a city skyline for example, you may want to keep buildings straight up and down, as we perceive them with our eyes. The shorter the lens is the more convergence you get so with 10mm it’s very pronounced.

Convergence isn’t actually caused by the wide angle lens itself, it’s caused by the camera sensor not being parallel to the subject. But if you’re using your 7 Building Blocks of Photography and thinking like a photographer, you can find ways to use this effect creatively.

When you stand in a glade of tall trees and look up at the sky you know the trees are straight so your brilliant brain corrects the effect for you. Cameras don’t have brains so they record what’s actually there.

Point a wide 10 mm lens up at this type of subject and it really makes tree trunks seem to tower above you and makes the viewer feel small, like a child.

Get in close with a 10mm lens like I did with the ants eye view of a fir cone and you have a real feeling of intimacy with your subject, like you’re really ‘there’ somehow.

Wide lenses have got a large depth of field. The shorter the focal length, the greater the depth of field becomes. But depth of field is also affected by distance to subject, so the only way you can blur and separate subject from background using a wide lens is to be very close – and use your widest aperture too of course.

Whatever lenses you shoot with, remember light can make or break your photo so always watch what the light is doing. It’s the 2nd building block of photography for good reason. Watch where the highlights and shadows are and which direction they’re moving. In a wood like this there are always pools of light you can use to light up areas of your compositions. But be careful, because they move fast so you must work fast or you’ll lose what could be perfect light for a shot.

I love shooting against the light and even including the sun itself in shots. Have a look at How to find photos at a bad time of day for more on this. Including the sun in the image can add power, especially when shooting wide and you’re already adding something eye catching by being low, looking upwards and have all that lovely convergence going on too.

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