Most beginning photographers focus on the large zoom capabilities of camera lenses, bringing faraway subjects up close with telephoto options. But the other end of the lens spectrum -- wide angle lenses -- can provide some great photo looks, creating photos that are vastly different from what you see with a telephoto lens. Try these tips for using wide angle lenses and making the most of their capabilities.
Learn the numbers. You can measure the wide angle capabilities of your lenses using the 35 mm equivalent. Most lenses offer a range, such as 35-105 mm, for example. A measurement of 50 mm is about equal to normal vision. Numbers higher than 50 mm indicate telephoto capabilities, and numbers smaller than 50 mm indicate wide angle capabilities. A wide angle lens that can shoot at 18 mm has more extreme wide angle capabilities than one that can shoot at 35 mm, for example.
Move close ... closer ... closer. Using wide angle lenses requires a completely different mindset than telephoto lenses. You rarely have to move your feet when using telephoto lenses. With wide angle lenses, though, you have to move a lot to end up with the exact photo you want. Just remember this rule when using wide angle lenses: Even when you think you're close enough, you probably aren't.
Stay grounded. Don't expect to shoot a lot of vertical photos when using wide angle lenses. You'll end up with some strange distortions when shooting vertically. (Then again, such distortions may allow you to shoot some interesting, artistic photos.) You'll have the best results when using wide angle lenses by shooting horizontally.
Keep the foreground free. With wide angle photography, keep in mind that objects in the foreground will be prominent. If foreground objects are large, bright, or colorful, they could overwhelm the photograph and pull attention away from a subject in the background. Use care when deciding whether to include an object in the foreground of your wide angle photograph.
Everything is in focus. Photography using a wide angle lens tends to have a wide focal length, meaning a large portion of the photo will be in sharp focus. Look for subjects that will be able to stand out from the background, even if the background is in focus.
Practice makes perfect. Just like any other photography skill, wide angle photography requires practice to improve your results. Expect your first several photos to not turn out quite as you intended. The best way to figure out how close you need to be when using your wide angle lenses is to make a few mistakes, for example.
In addition to the wide angle photography you can perform with your DSLR camera and interchangeable lenses, some point and shoot cameras can shoot wide angle photos, too. You won't receive wide angle options as extreme with your point and shoot camera as with your DSLR camera, but you will have some wide angle options. Check the specifications for your point and shoot camera, looking for the low end of the range of the lens with your point and shoot camera, to determine whether it has any wide angle photography capabilities.
Good luck with your wide angle photography!