A double edged sword…


Using a wide angle lens can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand you can create some unique perspectives by placing important compositional elements prominently in the foreground of the frame. On the other hand though, depending on how much you tilt the lens, your photographs can also be susceptible to distortion, especially near the corners. You can see how the lighthouse above appears to be leaning quite distinctly, though that might also be because I was a considerable distance below it and actually quite low to the ground. In order to fit everything into the frame as I intended, I had to accept that there might be some wide-angle distortion – in this case though, I don’t really mind it.

When I made this photograph, a large cloud bank from a clearing storm had parked itself just off shore casting soft, filtered light over much of the scene. I was perched rather precariously on the rock you can see in the foreground, with the legs of my tripod splayed as wide as I could get them while still maintaining a solid base. I had a blast waiting for wave after wave to break and wash on shore and all around me, and I made several exposures in an attempt to get a composition that I liked. If there was one thing I learned from this particular morning though…  it was that I need to invest in a pair of big rubber boots!

Despite the effect of the wide-angle lens, you might still just be able to pick out another lighthouse in the distance… the somewhat isolated but striking Ram Island Ledge Light which stands sentinel in Casco Bay… more to come about that lighthouse later.

24 thoughts on “A double edged sword…

  1. claude

    I like your your work. I’ve been in all of the states except Maine and NH. Seeing your work I’m more determined than ever to make a trip the northeast coast.

    • David Patterson

      Claude… thanks. I do love New England, especially the northern tier of states like Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Abe. I did what I never have the guts to do… I jumped the fence! There was no-one around, and I figured what harm could I do?

    • David Patterson

      Thanks Mark. I’m a Canon user, and my lens of choice is the 17-40mm. There are no cheap options in this range, but this lens seems to be good value. Up until about a year ago I was using a camera with a crop sensor, so the 17mm was the equivalent of about 28mm on a full frame sensor. Now on my 5D II, 17mm does seem truly wide… without too much distortion.

      • I’m a Canon user to, David. I still have my good old 5D and considering the new one who is about to come out really soon now. About the wide-angle lens I can be very straight:very expensive. Especially the EF14mm 2,8 L USM is to expensive, so it seems that your choise is nearly the best to buy for a reasonable price.
        I myself use in general my 24-70mm :2,8 L USM which is a really fine lens but in many cases just not wide enough.
        Thanks for the information David.

        • David Patterson

          Mark… I’ve heard great things about the 24-70mm L, and you’re right… good lenses are VERY expensive. The good news is that they seem to hold their value well, so if you want to sell and upgrade at least it can cushion the blow to the wallet. I’ve actually been lusting after the 24mm f1.4 II, but as much as I know would enjoy the quality, I think I would miss the zoom. Without sounding too much like a gear head, I’m also starting to become intrigued by some of the tilt-shift lens options… now there’s some serious money!

          • Listen David, now you’re going to far for me when you start talking about tilt &shift lenses 😉 ’cause they’re so expensive I’m probably to old before i saved the money for that. And yes, a fixed focal length is most of the time better and more lightstrong (and expensive!) but I would mis the zoom as well.
            I’ll just keep on dreaming of al this fine glas. Grz. M

    • David Patterson

      Mark… pick up any “lighthouse” calendar and I’m sure Portland Head Light will be in it. Very popular place it is!

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