There's no one size fits all photography technique. Different needs or goals inform different techniques. Instructables, for instance, usually require some up close and personal photography, to show the details of different projects for the purposes of easy to follow how-tos, which basically amount to desktop photography using useful tools like our desktop photo studio. Sometimes, you want to frame shots to give the viewer a "You Are There" kind of experience.
But sometimes you want your shots to be wide open, framed only by the immensity of the view. Sometimes these are wide angle shots, sometimes just long shots, dropping the horizon or any other point of reference almost to obscurity. Here we'll look at some different uses for wide view photography and how you can angle for the best shot to make the biggest impact on the viewer. Most of these shots were taken with a Canon Rebel T2i, but cell phone cameras lend themselves especially well to super wide, all encompassing views.
Step 1: Move Around
Key to any good photo is perspective, and the best way to get a good perspective is to move around. With this old house we came across on a back country road in Florida, I used my trusty 18mm to 55mm zoom. Each image tells a slightly different story, but the last shot, with the great oak tree looming up over the remains of the house, to me, puts the story of time in perspective.
Step 2: Aim High
The "Rule of Thirds" is a classic beginning photography guideline. Your digital camera may even come with a helpful grid view in the view finder, to help you align your image along two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines to help you compose your photo. But sometimes you have to bend the rules for the greatest impact, and wide view shots can be the fun house of photographic composition.
Aiming up, and dropping your horizon below the magic third creates a looming sky that reduces anything below it to perspective setting smallness.
Step 3: Clean Lines
Distinct architectural elements can really benefit from wide view treatments. The flat orange brick face of the building lit sharply against the cloudless late afternoon sky and offset to the far right, made a really interesting, if stark, image
Similarly, the metallic gleam of the St. Louis arch, with nothing else for reference, is almost lost against the blue sky.
Both of these wide view images stand out because of their spare simplicity.
Step 4: Skyscapes
Wide view photography is especially powerful in capturing skyscapes. Aiming high and focusing wide helps illustrate the sweep of mountains, breadth of lakes, bays or the sea, and the power of storms, Again, move around - crouch down and look up at the scene through your lens. Look at reflections and areas where light and dark contrast.
Wide views are great for capturing mirror images, fractal patterns and the Rorschach scenes of turbulent clouds or water.
Step 5: Sunsets
Wide view shots are fantastic for capturing those kaleidoscopic sunsets that take your breath away. Instead of doing the old touristy center-and-shoot thing, though, next time one of those nuclear sunsets flares for you, aim up - put the horizon low and try to fill your view with sky. Again, look for patterns - feathery cloud crowns, racks of cloud ribs, streaks of light and dark. The more you look, the more you'll see!
Step 6: Perspective
Next time you're out for a walk -- in the woods, in the city, anywhere - look up, straight up. What you see might surprise you. We spend a lot of time looking down when we walk, or just in a few feet in front of us. Looking up can put life in fresh context. Wide angle shots of trees can be especially compelling, capturing the strength of broad straight trunks and green canopy above them.
Few things give you a better perspective than a wide view of the world!