23 : Wide Angle

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Open up

For this lesson, we are going to explore the effect of taking pictures with a wide angle lens. This usually means shooting with a lens that is 50mm or wider, such as 35mm, 24mm or even 10mm. If you purchased a camera that included a "kit" lens, it is probably an 18-55mm zoom. You can use this lens zoomed out to 18mm for this lesson!

Wide angle lenses capture more of a scene than human eyes can typically see, causing a sense of distortion. Objects that are close to the camera look very large in proportion to objects that are further away. Another effect is that straight lines will bend and distort.

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Depending on your scene, the distortion caused by wide angles can reflect a sense of awkwardness, playfulness, surprise or drama. Build off the unnatural visual qualities of wide angle images for this assignment to bring out unexpected feelings and emotions in your pictures.

Note that most wide angle lenses do not offer low depth of field, so everything in your images will probably be in sharp focus. 

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Wide angle lenses can cause so much distortion that images often take on a surreal or even a humorous tone. Try exaggerating part of your subject by placing it extremely close to the camera compared to everything else, like the shoe in the picture below, or by choosing an angle that would otherwise seem “off”. Push it that little bit further!

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Creative Prompts

1. Create images with an exaggerated subject in the foreground. Get close (very close!) to your foreground subject so that the contrast between the foreground and background is dramatic.  

2. Create images with distorted horizontal or vertical lines. Find a way to incorporate lines that are normally straight to give your image an unexpected twist.  

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Share your images!

As always, we look forward to seeing your images in the Facebook group! If you have never posted a picture, it's fine to start any time. The Facebook group is a positive, no-judgement zone. We also hope that reach out for advice or help if you need it!