Getting Depth in Your Wide-Angle Photography is EasyWith a foreground-to-background approach, you can produce a dynamic three-dimensional effect that gives viewers a real sense of place.
Unfortunately, the wide-angle's wide-ranging perspective is also what makes this focal length such a challenge. The tendency is to back up to get more into the picture, which commonly leads to either a "busy" look or to vast empty spaces.
Move In Close to a Foreground ObjectThe keys to success? Think FOREGROUND and move CLOSER!
Zero in very tight on an eye-catching object so it fills a good chunk of the picture frame while still retaining background features.
How close should you get to your foreground object? The nearest point in my wide-angle scenics is often about an arm's length away or even closer.
Incidentally, your foreground border also can help clean up a composition: by hiding a blank sky or by concealing any distracting objects.
Great Depth of Field for Great Wide-Angle PhotosIn most wide-angle scenic situations, you'll want everything sharp - from front to back - since a great Depth of Field leads to a great feeling of space. Thus, for maximum sharpness, go with a very small lens opening (high f/stop number).
For precise DOF, use the preview mode or program found on many SLRs, check the scale markings on the barrel of some lenses, or use a hyperfocal chart. No DOF modes, guides, or charts? Then set your focusing point just beyond the closest spot in the scene (while also setting the f/stop for a small aperture) or set your focus one-third up from the bottom of the picture frame.
Finally: When working in close, even a small camera shift can mean a big compositional difference. That's why I use the "accessory photographers love to hate": a tripod!
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, Kerry Drager