Black and White Photography, Joseph, New York, Photography

You Asked For It – Techniques For Better Images

Today I would like to discuss some techniques that you might find useful (or maybe not). This is not going to be technical in any way so there will be no calculations or math of any sort. Now that I got that out of the way hopefully most of you will stick around and read the entire post.

Different lenses have different angles of view (remember we discussed this in a previous post), and one of the most difficult lenses to master is the wide angle lens.

Why do you say that Joe ? Β 

Most people approach wide angle photography the same way as if they had a 50mm lens on their camera and most times they are unhappy with the resulting images. Wide angle lenses don’t really work too well when they are used in a point and shoot fashion. The angle of view is way to wide and the resulting images have no impact because everything looks so small in the photo.

Let me show you the first example which was taken with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 lens. I just pointed and shot the photo. All of the examples will be in black and white so I don’t distract you with colors.

WideAngleOne

As you can see in the above photo there is no impact or point of interest. Everything on the horizon is tiny and there is a picnic table covered with snow smack in the middle of this shot (don’t panic over the snow these were taken last winter). Now lets try using our feet and move around a little bit (I know zooming is easier). I would like everyone to get used to looking at a scene and moving around it looking at it from different angles. One of the first lessons I learned way back in the dark ages when I studied photography was to photograph one object from every angle I could think of. Now lets take a look at the next example which was taken with the same lens.

WideAngleTwo

What do you think ? This photo has a lot more impact and all I did was take a few steps forward and use a slightly lower shooting angle. When shooting with wide angle lenses it is always good to have an object in the foreground being the depth of field is so great. Lets take a look at another example with The Tokina 12-24mm lens.

WideAngleThree

I guess this photo would work for a casual snapshot but there is really no point of interest or impact from this angle. Yes its sharp and the clouds are nice but thats about it. Now lets see what happens when we take a couple of steps to the left toward the rocks.

WideAngleFour

Notice the three large rocks to the lower left. They are the same rocks as the previous image so all I did was move a little bit to the left and used the rocks to sort of anchor the image or add a little more impact.

If you will take the time to approach common objects and use about 10 minutes of your time to move around them and take photos from all different angles and varying heights I will guarantee your image will improve. Next time you go out shooting try it. I bet the first image you take won’t be the keeper after you see the same object from different angles.

Lets try another example this time using a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens.

WideAngleFive

This photo was taken on a foggy morning at a local park. I used a lower angle and I thought this image would be the keeper. After taking various images of the same scene from different angles and distances I liked the image below.

WideAngleSix

In this scene I moved back a little and stood on a large rock to get a higher angle. To my eyes this is a little more like I saw that day before looking through the viewfinder. The flow of the trees through the scene look a little smoother to me also.

Sometimes getting a better shot has nothing to do with moving around. In this example I will use the same lens and shoot the scene in landscape mode (not the camera setting but the orientation). Lets take a look.

WideAngleSeven

There is nothing of interest in this photo it’s just too busy. Now lets take the camera and change the orientation to portrait (turning the camera sideways).

WideAngleEight

Thats better, all of a sudden by just changing the orientation of the camera the image improves. Its less busy and the composition falls into place. Now the boat and docking poles become the points of interest. The image was improved greatly just by turning the camera 90 degrees and I didn’t even have to move my feet πŸ™‚

So whats the moral of the story Joe ?

The moral of the story is don’t stand still and use your zoom to vary your images. Take the time to move around your subject and shoot it from all different angles. I really think you will be very surprised at the results you get with your images.

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42 thoughts on “You Asked For It – Techniques For Better Images

  1. I can’t believe I missed this post. Well, actually for some reason I’m missing a lot of posts. I have to say I enjoyed this and will be reading your other tips. I have read this suggestion from other people but never with examples- which do help a lot. I just recently started getting down on the ground for a different perspective but I can only do so when my wife is around so she can help me get back up! But I love the different viewpoint!. Thanks!

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  2. Joe, what a wonderful post. I love being able to see the “before” and “afters” – always a powerful way to learn. Thanks, too, for the tips on shooting with a wide angle lens. While I don’t yet have one, it is definitely on my wish list. It’s nice to learn all I can so that when the day arrives that I have one in my kit, I’ll be off and running πŸ™‚

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  3. Some great tips Joe and things that I do all the time myself. I know what you mean with a wide angle being a bit hard to work with when you are used to a mid-range lens or a zoom. A couple of the things that I love most about working with a wide angle is 1) you can create a feeling of depth, and 2) you can create a unique photo that telephoto lenses can’t reproduce by making a small foreground subject look large and a large background subject look small. I find I get a lot more unique perspectives with my wide angle and always find that if my macro lens isn’t on my camera, you’ll find my wide angle there. I’m looking forward to also getting the new Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens that came out last month. It’s on order now and should be getting it in about a month or so. I’ve got plans for plenty of experimenting with the close focusing and the wide aperture. πŸ™‚

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  4. But Joe, even your “bad” shots are good, a wonderful post on the value of shifting about! I am thinking of buying a wide-angle prime for my Canon but then Fuji keep coming out with their little gems. What to do!

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    • Thank you for your kind words Patti πŸ™‚ I would probably be of no help to suggest anything to you because I have 40 years invested in Nikon gear yet I am in love with using the Fuji gear. If I didn’t have so much invested in Nikon I would sell it all. Have a great evening πŸ™‚

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  5. A great post Joe! You are so right about how important it is to move around and shoot the same scene or object from different angles. And when you feel you’ve tried everything then still keep shooting, that’s what some recommend. πŸ™‚ It’s like a creative fun project learning to know your subject and finding the best angles. I love the photos in this post! πŸ™‚

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  6. You definitely know your way around a camera. The pictures have character and take on a 3-D aspect. Mine are flat and one dimensional. Thanks for the lesson, I’ll try to improve.

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  7. Great post Joe…and you’re so right when you say to move around. Most of the shots I think are keepers end up in the trash heap. On the other hand, some shots I’ve taken at weird angles turn out to be a pleasant surprise. ~ Dave

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    • Thank you very much Earl πŸ™‚ We don’t get a lot of fog over here so I tend to rush out the door with armfuls of gear when I see it. My neighbors probably think I’m a moron πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend.

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  8. That’s why I wait for Fridays with great anxiety. I want to see the rabbit you will pull from your magical hat. I try to follow these guidelines, always looking for different angles. Lately I’m experimenting taking pictures from above, using a ladder. Never done it before.

    It is within my plans to buy a wide-angle lens. Probably it will be the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM lens. I saw it at Amazon with a price tag of $299.00 which is within my means. Your guidelines will help a lot when I start shooting with this lens. They are bit tricky to use, if you’re not careful, as you explained.

    Loved your pictures and your useful tips and guidelines. Thank you for sharing your photography knowledge and skills.

    Best Wishes,

    Omar.-

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    • Thank you Omar πŸ™‚ That sounds like a really great price on that Canon lens. Sometimes I use a ladder on outdoor portraits with a long lens and the results are worth the extra steps (no pun intended). Have a great weekend Omar.

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