Landscape photographer Mark Denney has put together a quick tutorial that will be particularly useful for beginners. In it, he covers the most egregious mistakes he made when he first started shooting landscapes with a wide-angle lens, and explains how you can avoid falling into the same traps.
“I think without a doubt a wide angle lens is by far the most popular choice of lens to start with for landscape photography, but there are some drawbacks and mistakes to avoid when using these ultra wide focal lengths,” writes Denney. “The field of view when using a wide angle lens is such a stark departure from what we see on a daily basis with our eyes that it can make the effective use of such a wide focal length challenging in certain situations.”
In the video, Denney shares the three “most egregious” mistakes that he made when he purchased his first wide-angle lens—traps that many (if not most) beginners fall for when they first start shooting wide. But it’s not just for beginners; as Denney explains in the video, he fell into one of these traps just last week when he created his most recent video.
Fortunately, all three mistakes are really easy to avoid if you know what you’re looking for. Here’s a quick summary:
- The Prime Effect – When you only use your wide-angle zoom at its widest setting. This often leads to including too much information in every one of your frames, or what Denney calls “scene stuffing.”
- The Flat Line Problem – When everything in your scene is the same distance away from your camera. Adding foreground interest is critical when shooting wide-angle; consider shooting in portrait orientation to make including foreground elements easier.
- Resisting Distortion – When you avoid distortion at all costs and it actually hurts your overall composition. For example: don’t be afraid to embrace wide-angle distortion by getting low and close to your foreground elements. Focus stack if you need to.
To dive into all three of these points in much greater detail, with plenty of example images to go along with each point, check out the full video up top. And if you have any additional wide-angle mistakes to share with the newbies in the audience, feel free to drop your favorite “pro tip” in the comments.