Ultra & Super Wide Angle Photography
18 May 2013

I like it wide.

It’s true, I have made no secret of this fact. But why do I like it wide? and why do I like it so, so wide? The answer?

Fucked if I know.

My first wide lens was on the wide end of a 28-200mm Tamron, I only used this for a few months before it wasn’t wide enough. Then came the 24mm, wow that’s wide! I actually liked the 24mm and used it for some time but inevitably it wasn’t wide enough. Then I wanted a 20mm, now that’s wide! But alas, I was too slow for a nice second hand one, certainly not buying new. Then I actually went a bit less wide, 35mm, that’s what that old French dude used to use so now I’m going to use it! Then I got the Xpan and the 45mm which is actually a 24mm, that’s kind of wide, but at least the neg is wide too. I desperately wanted a 30mm for the Xpan but I couldn’t afford it. I then bought a Horizon camera, this is really wide and really panoramic, this is cool. But something bad happened, it had some funky shit inside it that appears on all of my frames AND the shutter jammed open at the end of a roll and I rewound the film with the shutter open AND it was one of my last rolls of 35mm Agfa Ultra 50, You’re out of here! Then I find out about Voigtlander Rangefinders, this is a fun little camera and this 15mm is sooo wide, I bet there is nothing wider than this! Then as if by magic a 30mm for the Xpan comes into my life, is this what perfection looks like? And then… OMG! WHAT?! There is a 12mm? WANT! Then a few years pass and nothing much changes. 20mm on a APS DSLR, meh. A faulty 14mm fisheye. 50mm on 6×6? nice but not wide enough. I like 21mm now, no I don’t. I’m going to shoot wide video with this 7-14mm, no you’re just going to become a lazy photographer, that’s what. Have a look through the Xpan, cured, bye 7-14. I want a wide 4×5*, too heavy and too much work, try pinhole, meh. I want to shoot wide stuff on medium format, I want a Hasselblad SWC, but I can’t look through them properly, plus it’s douchey, no. Mamiya 7 & 43mm? Yes please!

* I should point out that at some stage in the future, provided the film is still available I would like to use a super/ultra wide large format camera but not until I’m old enough to get away with getting a camera bag that has wheels and one of those extending handles with the tripod mount on top.

But why do I like it so, so wide? A photographer once told me to approach my subject. Another photographer once told me to get close to my subject and one of those photographers once told me to connect with my subject. I guess my brain took all of this information and thought “Approach, get closer, connect, repeat” until I’m so close to my subject I don’t know who’s more uncomfortable. Shooting on the street is interesting with a super or ultra wide angle lens, people don’t know if they’re in the frame or not or they’re thinking he’s so close to me, he couldn’t possibly taking a photo of me, but I am. <RANT> While I am at it, street photography with lenses longer than 50mm should not be allowed. Maybe even longer than 35mm. How can you connect with your subject using a 70-200mm lens from across the other side of the street? I guess you could call them or use a signal lamp, the later would also help with the light situation on overcast days.Get close, deal with the consequences.</RANT>

Am I done yet?


The pros and cons of shooting wide.

1. Distortion – Pro, learn to fucking love it.
2. The lenses are slow – Pro, your face is slow.
3. Taking photos of stuff from the footpath and not the road – Pro.
4. Taking photos of stuff in narrow alleys – Pro.
5. Taking photos of stuff far, far away – Con.
Couldn’t you just crop? – Fuck off.
6. Taking photos of people – Con, unless you’re careful, keep them away from the edge.
7. Taking photos at night – Con, the lenses are generally slow.
Use a tripod you lazy bastard – Kiss my arse.
Use faster film then – Ok.
8. Too much depth of field – Pro, Piss off, if you want to be one of the cool kids and shoot shallow DOF all the time go buy a fast tele lens, not a wide dumbarse.
9. That 12mm is unusable – Don’t fight with admins of the cool groups on Flickr.
10. Can’t you just move backwards? See 3 & 4.

I can’t think of anything else to say about the subject so I’m going to end with one bit of advice.

Get closer.