Perspective: Take a step Back
As I shared a bit in my May post, I was desperately needing to pull back from the busyness of life a little bit. Details and "to do's" had started to overtake my sanity. "Jazzy June" was everything I needed it to be. We breezed through some things that could have been stressful, but I didn't allow them to be.
I have found that when it feels like the walls are closing in, pausing to seeing the big picture provides very much needed context. It can be a game changer. When I am feeling the push and pull of everyday life, often I mistakenly allow minor inconveniences more mental space than they actually deserve. This results in stress, exhaustion, and frustration. We were not meant to be slaves to deadlines, ideals, and achievements. When those falsities begin to overstep their bounds, stepping back to re-allign priorities becomes crucial for navigating a balanced life.
What I LOVE about photography is that the same is true ... when you step back and provide context, it gives your audience some breathing room. They can experience all that you did when you took the picture. Sometimes that includes some imperfections, and that is ok! Those are part of the story.
Of note, we are living in the technology age where Photoshop can be our friend to remove some of those distractions if they genuinely detract from the quality of the composition. But that is for another post ;).
It took me a while in my photography journey to realize the value of stepping back and showing a wider view. Now, it is one of my favorite things.
Wide open vs wide angle
I just wanted to take a brief moment to clarify some terminology. If you have been following along, you know that I love to shoot super wide open. In case you have forgotten, that means that you set your camera at a shallow depth of focus to allow in extra light. See my blog post from January. As you know from that post, photography is all about manipulating how much light enters the camera. One way to manage this is by adjusting your depth of focus.
Another way to capture more light as you shoot is to widen the area that you are framing. The best analogy is to think about a window. A window measuring 1'x1' lets only a small amount of light to a room. A window that is 5-foot-square lets significantly more light. Photographers typically refer to 35mm and under as "wide angle."
Here is an example of an image where I used a wide angle but with a very shallow depth (f/2.8). The background is that beautiful blurred bokeh, you can still clearly see that that the context was a beautiful Pacific NW field on a cloudy day. Shout out to Unger Farms which is our favorite Strawberry picking spot.
Wide does not mean far
Typically when I think of wide angle, I think of everything I have mentioned above in regards to showing more of the frame. For me, that is the fun of a wide lens. Our eyes are incredibly wide and can capture more than most photography lenses, so it is fun when you put a wide lens to work to try and rival our own eyes' perspective.
However, I can't do a wide angle post without mentioning that when it comes down to it, the main thing that really determines what in the frame is YOU. Even with a wide lens, if you step super close to your subject, your image will appear close up.
This quick snapshot of the boys on the last day of school was shot at 24 mm. It looks more like a 50 mm shot because I got super close up to them. Similarly, the images below were also at 24 mm but just taken close up which proves a fun perspective.
I have been SO excited to talk about this lens! When I went to ClickAway in 2016, several photographers talked about how owning a very wide angle (Fish Eye) lens changed their photography. A couple recommended the relatively inexpensive Sigma 15 mm. I found one on E-Bay for $400. They weren't kidding! It added a really fun spice to my toolkit. I'll not say that I've mastered it, but I have played with it a fair amount and have learned that I get the best results when I am shooting very close up to my subject.
Of note, when you are shooting in bright sun and want to capture a sun flare, hike your aperture WAY on up to 9+. That is where you will find your flares.
I also want to mention that if you use Lightroom presets and you are working on a lens shot with a Fish Eye, some of the presets will automatically go in and make a lens correction to flatten and stretch your image. I actually almost always prefer the photo from original 15 mm perspective. Here is the same image but with the lens profile correction enabled. I HANDS DOWN prefer the uncorrected version, so I always go in and uncheck that box if my preset has selected it.
However, for the shot below, I actually liked the stretched effect provided by the lens correction, so it's always worth taking a look at both options.
challenging or Uneven Light
As in the photo above, wide angles can be really beneficial in bright sun because they forgive the shadows and uneven light patches that would otherwise detract from a closer up shot.
In contrast, uneven light can actually augment your wide angle photos when you can isolate or frame your light source properly. This shot of my niece is a perfect example. I was prepping a meal in our rented vacation home when I saw my adorable little niece (seriously you guys, she is the sweetest) sitting in her high chair with the window light illuminating her face. The rest of the dining room was relatively dark given the time of day. My camera happened to be on the counter with my 24-70 mm on it. I opened it up to 24 mm and stopped it down to f/2.8. She was sitting still, mesmerized by her crazy cousins playing right outside, so I could shoot at 1/160 and still have plenty of focus. I had to set my ISO at 2500 because the rest of the room was so dark.
I absolutely love the result. The dark decor is softened by her blonde locks and illuminated baby skin ... it just pulls me in.
In the next image, the white balance was extremely tricky. However, because the background is so interesting, your eye doesn't care as much about perfect skin tones or color management.
My boys' gymnastics gym has a big showcase every June. This year's theme was Rock-N-Rollympics. I was wandering around doing some photos and at first was shooting these flowers up close. I was trying to angle myself so as not get the receptionist in the background. However, the shot I ended up liking the best was one with her in it. It felt the most real ... it was a very busy afternoon and the gym was buzzing with staff and volunteers working hard to be ready for the showcase. I ended up using it a collage that I made for the OMEGA Facebook page.
Below is the second collage I made. As I have mentioned in prior posts, sometimes the best way to show your images is to group them. I like the variety of angles. It is fun to pair some close up shots with some wider ones. It definitely helps tell the story.
Tell your story
I really wish I had more time to devote to this subject, but since I don't I will just encourage you to pull back just a bit and let your surroundings tell more of the story you are trying to capture. Don't be afraid of the less "pretty" elements in your frame ... let them help you set your scene. I think it will surprise you how much life it brings to your photos.
And I'll leave you with a fun one below :).
So yes, thanks for visiting! Now head on over and see what Kelly worked on with her wide lenses this month. I am sure her work is stunning as always!