The visual field.

Humans have a forward facing horizontal arc of visual field approximately 210° wide, of that however only the center is what is known as the “cone of visual attention” which is only about 55° wide, which approximates to the field of view (FOV) provided by a 43mm lens, which is the reason that 35mm and 50mm lenses are considered to be perfect for street photography.

Anything that falls outside of this central cone is known as peripheral vision, and any lens capable of capturing it, a focal length of less than 35mm (full frame) is known as a wide angle lens.

Wide angle shots are therefore very good at drawing the viewer into the scene, with plenty of room to include objects to emphasis the sense of scale and depth, but care does have to be taken when framing the shot as wide angle lenses tend to distort and exaggerate perspective, which can leave objects on the periphery looking rather stretched.

But that’s exactly the reason we need to practice it.

Some examples illustrating the technique

Tips for when on location

  • Emphasise a foreground element, use a wide angle lens to get really close to something in the foreground, giving it more importance.
  • Photograph the subject in its environment, thereby giving it context, and it’s great for storytelling.
  • Get everything in focus, a wide angle lens has an incredibly depth of field, so use it.

© Andrew James Kirkwood – 2017

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