Ultra wide angles are very difficult to master. Especially in Street Photography if you are not prepared to get close and personal with your subject and when I say close I mean like two lovers with a glass of wine shared between them, then my advice is to try with a longer focal length.
However if you choose to get close, you will be rewarded with some beautiful cinematic pictures with a strong sense of drama.
One of the hardest things with an ultra wide lens when shooting on the street, is to correctly place your subject into the frame. The reason for this is because wide angle lenses have the ability to “suck everything into your frame” and most of the times some unwanted elements slip in unnoticed that can totally destroy your composition and your photograph. The slightest miscalculation that could bring you a few cm closer or further away from your subject, could have a huge impact on the final result.
Another important thing that you should have in mind when going ultra wide, is the relationship between your subject and your background. What you should remember is that the closer you are to your subject, the further your background is pushed away.
Below I share with you 6 Tips for shooting Ultra Wide Angle Street Photography that I have picked up along the years . I hope you find them useful.
6 tips to help you master your Ultra Wide lens for the Streets
1. If you are not close enough…
Thats right guys get close up and personal with your subjects. If you think you are close enough THINK again and take one more step and move even closer. Give your photo that special something that only and ultra wide lens can produce. The intimacy that can’t be achieved in any other way.
2. Watch the edges of your frame…
This is something that most people tend to forget, but shouldn’t. Why not? For two reasons.
As mentioned before, unwanted elements tend to pop into your frame from the edges of your composition. So, make sure you watch those edges and adjust your composition accordingly.
if the elements at the edges of your frame are close enough to you, that means logically that your subject will be even closer which is a good thing.
3. Play with your P.O.V….
Try shooting from the ground with a “rat’s eye view”, or from the hip, or even from above! You can also try shooting upside down or any other different way you can think of. Even a small tilt of your lens can have a dramatic effect on your photo. After all photography is all about experimenting, isn’t it?
4. Lines, lines, lines…
Always look for strong leading lines, geometrical shapes, buildings, walls, traffic lines, zebra crossing lines, railway lines and combine them with your subjects to form strong compositions. Place your lines in the corner of your frame and watch them disappear into the distance. Ultra wide lenses tend to give a sense of eternal depth to leading lines. This is something that adds considerable drama to a photograph. Try to understand the relationship between lines, shapes, distance and your subject.
Look for interesting skies. The formation of clouds, their shape and the contrast between dark and white clouds can be used to your advantage in your composition. Using a sky properly in your photograph can transform the final result from average to just WOW!!
6. Shoot your heart out…
And my last but not least tip is to shoot shoot and shoot again. You can be a Street Photographer with “e-learning” but what you should really do is to be out there yourself and giving it your best go. Everything else comes from practice.
At this point, even after I have shared these 6 tips to help you master your Ultra Wide lens for the Streets, you will still find that the first and maybe second time that you shoot with an Ultra Wide you will feel like you can’t use your camera. You will feel like you can’t compose, or you will look with wonder at all those elements around the edges of your frame that are just making your photo look like a mess. Don’t be discouraged. Ultra Wide Angle Street Photography needs a lot of practice and needs complete dedication. To train your eye you must stop using any other type of lens for a period of time. Dedicate yourself to the Ultra Wide. Start seeing in Ultra Wide. Then, you will start feeling your focal distance and you will get better and better. So don’t give up, don’t deviate from your goal, put Ultra Wide in gear and start shooting!
NOTE: All photos in this blog post are by Australia based, Greek Street Photographer, Yiannis Yiasaris. You can learn more about Yiannis by visiting his social networks profiles provided in the links below in the Blog Post Author Box.