How to Use a Wide Angle Lens

Architecture picture shot on a wide lens from lemuro in Vienna

The Wide Angle lens for iPhone is one of the most popular camera add-ons for people who enjoy taking landscape and nature shots. However, it’s not always so easy to get to grips with right away. So what can be done to help you make the most of this magnificent lens? 

What Makes a Lens Wide?

Our eyes are widely thought to have a focal length of around 35-50mm. Therefore, ‘wide-angle’ would technically apply to any lenses shorter than this. 

Wide-angle lenses are great at giving you a real boost to perspective. That means you’ll often get an effect of close objects appearing much larger than far away objects. Using a wide-angle lens for iPhone correctly can make all the difference to some exciting artistic shots.

However, a wide-angle lens isn’t going to be useful for every shot. The best route to take with wide-angle photography in the first place is to experiment. Take a look at everyday items and fixtures with a new lens to see if new patterns, lines or distortion are created. The most unique and most artistic shots are often found by trial and error!

There are also more than a few different wide-angle lenses to choose from. Ultra-wide lenses and fisheye lenses give you a more varied perspective – and we will cover these in another guide.

Getting Started

There are a few things that some people struggle with when using the wide-angle lens for the first time. For one thing, many people don’t know that keeping things close to the lens is vital. Without having an object to closely distort in comparison with the background, you’re not going to get any of that fantastic perspective in your shot.

You should also really be thinking about keeping it simple. Wide-angle shots are best when there’s a clear focus on a subject, or even two, but when there’s more than three, you’re going to get crowded pretty quickly.  For the best wide-angle lens shots, you’re going to need to try and keep things simple. Try and pick one or two elements you want to focus on, and then let the background bend and warp along the way.

It’s also pretty common to pick up a wide-eye lens just because you think it’s fun and quirky. It’s definitely both of these things! But think about it this way – the best shots don’t always happen by accident. Something as intensive as a wide-angle lens needs time and patience to get used to. It’s far too easy just to pick up a camera or iPhone, to fit a wide-angle lens and to expect brilliant results.

While Lemuro’s tech will help you get brilliant results easier than ever before, an excellent wide-angle shot is one which takes careful consideration. If you don’t have that clear subject and that contrast with the background, you’re not going to get those brilliant unique perspectives.

Perfect for the Bigger Picture

While some people may prefer ultra-wide-angle lenses for distorted, artistic shots, many prefer simple wide-angle lenses to just get more into the frame. There are some natural panoramas and scenes out there which simply won’t fit into a basic lens shot. We can use panorama mode on our iPhones, but it’s not as stable as a wider lens. Therefore, for regular shots of wide-spanning landscapes, tall buildings and more besides, a wide lens is always going to be an excellent choice to make.

#shotonlemuro by @travel9to5

 

Thinking About Perspective

Wide-angle lenses are superb at helping you see everyday objects from different perspectives. While you will not only be able to fit more detail into a wide-angle shot, you’ll also be able to create some truly breath-taking photos by looking up, or looking down.

For example, think about the effect that the sky can have on a wide-angle shot. The more you fill your frame with that sky, the more a wide angle lens will use it to create depth. This type of lens will greatly accentuate a big, wide sky which you can use to embellish perspective. You shouldn’t forget about your foreground, however.  Always make sure there is something interesting going on there!

 

#shotonlemuro by @ryansaycreates

#shotonlemuro by @nickchungs

 

Shooting low also helps to create an amazing perspective. Focus on pathways, leading lines or natural features you can spot down low.  A wide-angle lens will allow you to bring more focus to your subject by leading eyes up towards the horizon.  What’s more, you will be able to capture incredible detail both down low as well as right in front of you and beyond.  It’s all about experimenting with the different effects that you can create.

Leading Lines

All good photographers know to keep a lookout for leading lines. These are natural trails which help to link objects in the foreground and the background together.  For example, you might have a fence over the one side, a trail of footprints in the sand, or even something like a plane trail in the sky.  Leading lines are obvious points of perspective that even the naked eye can see.

 

 

 

#shotonlemuro by @tecnomad

Therefore, why not use this to your advantage?  Take a look at how a leading line looks through a wide-angle lens. With the right distortion, you could create some unique, artistic effects which bend or twist the lines in directions you’re not expecting.

Why Use Wide-Angle Lenses?

Wide-angle lenses can seem cheesy and awkward to some people. To others, however, they can help to capture stacks of information and features that you wouldn’t otherwise see with your naked eye or with your standard phone camera. Wide-angle shots are panoramas with personality, in that they can look fantastic, surreal, breath-taking and even horrifying (in a good way) when they are put to good use.

Learning to use a wide-angle lens is easy, though it can take time. As with fisheye lenses, it is all about experimentation, a bit of tweaking along the way and making the most of your surroundings.  Are you willing to put the time in? If so, go for it!