One of the great things about being part of the Canon family is that many of the employees are pretty handy behind a camera. Aurelien, as well as working in our Digital Services team, is also a photographer with a very keen eye. He’s here on the blog sharing his tips on shooting with wide angle lenses, explaining how, with a little bit of knowledge, you can take some really interesting shots.
As a photographer, I’ve always preferred capturing a scene rather than the small details. Even when getting close, I shoot wide, finding the context of the picture often more interesting that the subject itself. Having been a keen photographer for years, the subject of my photography changed quite a lot with the birth of our son Elliott, when he replaced London and gigs as my favourite subject to capture. What hasn’t changed however is the angle at which I shoot, very rarely above 24mm full frame, often going down to an ultra-wide 16mm (to give you an idea, if you were sitting down and looking through the camera viewfinder you would see your knees).
Using a wide angle lens give you a dramatic perspective on things, making things that are in the foreground, such as his eyes or his hands, look disproportionately bigger that the rest of his body… It’s like he looking inside the camera or is about to touch it, sometimes quite literally!
The best aspect of shooting my son using wide angles is the sense of context and a reminder of how big the world around him is. Children grow up so fast so it’s a great way to remember where he was and what he was doing, compared to a close up portrait that could have been captured anywhere.
Now that he’s getting older, I’ve started to play a game with him where I take the pictures without using the viewfinder or screen of my SLR while he’s running. Because of the wide angle, you can still capture his entire body in motion and it’s not too difficult to frame properly despite having to trust you are pointing the lens is the right direction… and it’s worth it, it produces great pictures of pure joy, with a sense of movement and spontaneity.
My favourite lens for shooting Elliott is the Canon EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM. It’s typically designed for landscape photography but it also has an amazing zoom range for reportage photography. With it I can capture so much of a scene to create great composition regardless of how close I am to him.
Another lens to have a bit of fun with is a fisheye. This lens will bring not only a super wide angle but also some distortion in the image, making whatever is at the centre of the frame look much bigger than everything else. It’s everything but a portrait lens but I love to shoot Elliott with it and it exaggerates all the cuteness of a child’s face.
Hopefully this will give you some inspiration to have fun with different lenses, let us know how you get on in the comments section below!