Getting Creative with a Wide Angle Lens

My wife and I recently made a trip to Philadelphia to attend the 2012 flower show at the Convention Center (well, at least that was a good excuse to spend a few unseasonably warm late winter days in the city). I decided to travel light (for me that means taking only one camera body and one lens). It was only a week or two earlier that I had found a good deal on a used Nikon 24mm f/1.4 lens, and I hadn’t had much opportunity to use it yet, so that was my choice. For those of you who don’t pay much attention to focal lengths, 24mm is considered a wide angle lens. Not crazy wide, but wide nonetheless. On my full frame camera, the maximum angle of view (in the horizontal direction if you’re holding the camera normally) is 84 degrees. So unlike a telephoto lens, it encompasses a pretty generous field of view.

With gear in hand, I just needed to decide what to shoot. So I started with a typical shot one might take with a wide angle lens:

I like it, and it’s interesting. But it’s not very creative, is it?  Okay, here’s one of the headboard of the bed in our hotel room. Notice the extremely narrow depth of field (not something you usually get with a wide lens).

Here’s one of the phone in the hallway by the elevators. Because of the 84 degree angle of view, I was able to get up close and personal with the phone, while still capturing the interesting colors and textures of the desk and mirror.

This one is of the famous Wanamaker eagle.  The wide angle allowed me to get much of the eagle, up close, along with a good deal of architectural background.

Coffee, anyone? Typically, if you want to grab the detail of the front bag, you’d miss everything else. Not so with a wide lens.

Same with a few bowls of steel cut oatmeal. Plenty of detail up front; lots of interest in the background.

Here’s one of the back bar at Monk’s Belgian Cafe. I’ll let it speak for itself.

Oh, yes, and we did actually go to the flower show.  Here’s an assortment of images, showing the flexibility of a wide angle lens. Most are pretty obvious, but I want to point out that the second image is a shot of one of the miniature displays.

If you want to see larger versions of any of these photos, you can find them here. Hopefully, I’ve inspired you to experiment with your camera equipment a bit. So don’t be afraid to try something unconventional — you might be pleasantly surprised.

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

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