Liam Photography Podcast: Episode 11 – Other Uses for Wide-Angle Lenses, Using Creative Lenses

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In this episode I cover how to get more use from your wide-angle lenses and being more creative with creative lenses such as the Holga “toy” lens and the Lensbaby.

Wide-angle lens uses

Lensbaby lenses

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Liam Douglas: 00:01 You’re listening to the Leon photography podcast. I’m your host, Liam Douglas and an episode 11 I’m going to be talking about getting more out of your wide angle lenses and also shooting with creative lenses all on episode 11 of the lamb photography podcast.

Liam Douglas: 00:29 welcome to the Liam Photography podcast. I’m your host, Liam Douglas. This is episode 11 I want to thank all my listeners for subscribing, rating and reviewing and iTunes, Google play, and any other pod catchers that you might be using. So in this episode for my first segment, I want to talk about how to get more out of your wide angle lenses. Any photographers feel that a portrait Lens, the only portrait lenses are 50 millimeters, 85 millimeters and 135 and that’s primarily on the Canon side. I know some, not a lot of Nikon shooters will say they really loved the One oh five g, uh, portrait lens that Nikon has and it is a great lens. The other thing is the 70 to 200 f 2.8 is the most popular and best selling lens in the world because it covers all of those previously mentioned focal lengths with the exception of the 50 millimeters.

Liam Douglas: 01:29 Now 50 millimeters. Some people do use it for portraits. Um, most people use it more for like street photography or maybe environmental portraits where they want us slightly wider, um, seeing, but the most common realistically portrait lenses are 85 105 and one 35 all of which are covered by the 70 to 200 millimeter f 2.8 which again is why it’s the best selling lens in the world, whether it’s made by Canon, Nikon, sigma, Tam, Ron or Sony. Those are hot hot lenses and they sell like hotcakes. Now I know you’ll think I’m crazy, but you could actually get more use out of your wide angle lens than just shooting landscapes. One of the really creative uses for your wide angle lens is wide angle portraits. Now before you start flaming me saying, I’ve gone off the deep end here, me out. Yes, a wide angle lens will make your subject’s face look all exaggerated because their nose might look huge and their eyes and ears small, but by shooting create creatively, you can make that wide angle lens creates some really awesome shots.

Liam Douglas: 02:40 Instead of shooting your subject head on like you would with a regular portrait lens, try shooting them from above, pointing the wide angle lens down at them. Or if you’re shooting a full body portrait shoot from their feet, why would you shoot at foot level? Well, because you will make them seem taller. Ever wonder how Hollywood can make an actor that’s five foot six look like there are six foot plus tall. Well they shoot them from a lower angle with a wide angle lens in Bam. Somebody like Tom Cruise looks like he’s six foot six instead of five foot seven as an old Hollywood trick. Just one of many that are used in the various film industries to create a specific look or feel to the scene. Another gray you use for your wide angle lens as far as portraits go is for the environmental portrait.

Liam Douglas: 03:33 You can capture your subject and more of their surroundings. Now one thing to keep in mind with shooting and with your wide angle get closer or you ended up with them looking like an action figure instead of an action hero. Even when you using wide angle for landscapes, make them more interesting by shooting at ground level. If you’re afraid to lay down on the ground, crouch and set the camera on the ground and shoot, it might be a little tricky to get your focus lock, but if you use back button focus it can be a lot easier. And if you’re like me and you’ve got one of the cameras that has the very angle tilt screen, then you could set the camera all the way down on the ground or use a tripod like my gets tripod. That will open up to the point where it’ll lie your camera to sit just a little few inches off the ground.

Liam Douglas: 04:23 And then with a very angle touchscreen or very angle screen period, whether it’s touch or not, you can flip out and swivel that screen so that you can see you’re seeing in live view mode and you can get a good focus lock that way as well as taking your composition, made sure you’ve got the scene the way you want it. Now, by using this close to the ground approach, you can give more emphasis to objects that are in the foreground and less emphasis to things that are in the background. And I’ve seen photographers do this. I’m not the only one that likes to shoot this way. There’s plenty of others out there on the Internet that you can find just by doing a Google search. But let’s say as an example, you’re shooting a landscape scene, um, and you’re at a stream. If you take your camera and get down close to our rate on the ground and there’s some really cool looking rocks on your side of the stream by putting your camera right down onto the ground, you can get that interesting perspective and you make the rocks more of the star of the scene and the streams and say the woods or mountains on the other side or our background elements that helped fill in this interesting point of view.

Liam Douglas: 05:41 So I definitely recommend trying something like that. You can shoot multiple people by placing them at different distances. And in turn with Your Wide Angle Lens, you can create some really cool photos. So for example, you could have person, let’s say a young man standing closer to you and a young woman standing farther back from him. And then one of the cool things you could do is you could have him hold out one of his hands with the palm up and you could basically set up the scene. So it looks like he’s holding her in the palm of his hand and you can do other things similar to create some really cool effects. And those are just, you know, a handful of ideas at ways that you can use your wide angle lens more creatively. And if you want to see some examples, I’ll put the link in the show notes description and you can check out the blog post that I wrote on this a couple of years ago where I have some good examples.

Liam Douglas: 06:43 Um, one of the shots that I did was technically a portrait but not technically a portrait. And the reason why I say that is it was a portrait shot full body that I did, but it was of a statue in the local botanical garden and Loganville Georgia in Gwinnett county called mine’s botanical. And it was basically a statue of a Cherub, um, or uh, you know, a young angel, whatever you want to call them, different people call them by different things or cupid for that matter. Um, but what I did is, because of course the statue was up a cupid type character. It wasn’t a super tall statue. And being, I’m almost six foot tall, I’m five, 11 and three quarters. I was able to just walk up to it and tower over it. So I was able to do a downward shoot of this statue like I mentioned in the beginning of this segment.

Liam Douglas: 07:34 And it created a really cool point of view and made for a really interesting portrait of that statue, full body portrait. So like I said, if you click on the links that I’ll have in the show notes for this episode, you can view that photo and you can also get some ideas of some other creative uses for wide angle lenses. I’ll include some additional links to some other photographers work, um, that have done similar things with wide angle lenses to create some really, really cool and unique perspectives, further images. And that’s the whole idea in photography. I mean federal, what’s the definition of photography? It’s basically painting with light, which is what our camera does. And you always want to keep those creative juices flowing. So why not find an additional purpose for a wide angle lens that you already own? Why limit that one lens to only shooting landscapes or real estate all the time?

Liam Douglas: 08:32 Break that puppy out on a weekend and have some fun creating some interesting portraits or interesting landscape scenes. I, like I said, getting that camera down on the ground and put some really interesting things in the foreground that will really add some depth to your images. Okay, now on to segment two, which is shooting with creative lenses. Now what I talk about creative lenses, and I’m sure some of my listeners have probably heard of these lenses before. Maybe some of you even own these lenses. I personally owned both of the two I’m going to talk about today and they can be a lot of fun. The two lenses that I want to talk about today are the whole Gha toy lens and the lens baby. The whole good toy lens. If, if you know anything about the history of photography, I think it was back in the 80s there were these cameras, cheap cameras that were made called Holger toy cameras and it was basically a little plastic camera.

Liam Douglas: 09:39 You can still buy them on Amazon and Ebay. Um, but you can also buy Holger toy lenses for your existing camera and they’re not super expensive. I can’t remember. I think I paid like 12 or 15 bucks for mine. Now the one thing that keep in mind is there is no adjustment to this lens. It’s completely manual, um, because it’s a plastic lines that you’re getting for 12, $15. Um, that you know, if you get a model that’s made with the mount to fit your camera minor courses ETF for Canon. Um, and the other thing to keep in mind is the whole gut lens has a fixed aperture of f eight. So you really, really want to use this lens outdoors where you have lots of light or in the studio where you’re going to use a lot of artificial lighting, but you can get some really cool looks with the Lens itself and has kind of a hazy, dreamy affect to the images that you’ll create with it.

Liam Douglas: 10:37 Kind of like in the old days of film photography when photographers would smear like petroleum jelly on their lens to create a dreamy look to their images, um, to get that little extra bit of creativity in them. And you can do this with the whole good toy lens. And like I said, they’re not expensive. I figured heck for 12, 15 bucks, even if I only use it, uh, you know, once a year or once every couple of years and that out a lot of money. And sometimes it’s just fun to play around with creative items like that. It’s always good to find various ways to keep your creative juices flowing and that’s a great way to do it. Now the second creative Lens I want to talk about is made by a company called Lens Baby. Now the Lens Baby Lens that I personally have is the lens baby 2.0 it came out a few years ago.

Liam Douglas: 11:34 It does have the Canon Elf Mount. Now these are completely mechanical lenses. There’s no electronics to them, no working parts as far as that goes or especially not on the model I have now. They’ve come out with numerous models over the last few years. They have the sole 45 and they’ve got a 50 millimeter version and they’ve got 85 millimeter versions. And the point is they’re just a really cool lens to play around with and get kind of a different look and perspective to your photos. And basically what happens with the lens baby is the one I have actually has discs that you insert into the front side of the Lens that act as the aperture blades. And you can have the lens at f eight or if you don’t put any of the discs, the aperture disks into the front of the Lens at all. It’s default is f 2.0 and that’s why it was called the Lens baby 2.0 now the other thing that’s interesting about this lens is the only way you focus with this lens is by squeezing it.

Liam Douglas: 12:41 Now, I don’t mean squeezing it like squeezing her mobile Sharman toilet paper. Now, I mean squeezing it. So in other words, you grabbed the front of the Lens. It has a metal collar, flat metal collar, looks kind of like a giant washer that runs around the outside of the barrel and you grab that with one or both hands and you squeeze it Mac towards the body of your camera. That’s how you control the focus. Now the whole idea behind the lens baby is a creates a small area of focus and then everything else is out of focus. And if you squeeze it with only one hand, let’s say you’re only using your left hand while you’re holding your camera with your right hand to take your shot, then the lens of course is going to be tilted in that direction. So you kind of Sorta have a mechanical tilt shift lens in a manner of speaking.

Liam Douglas: 13:34 Now it’s not going to take tack sharp images. That’s not the idea. The whole idea with the lens baby is to just get creative, do something a little bit different and a little bit fun and a little bit silly and see what kind of cool and funky images you can come up with. I mean, just think of the cool scene you could create with some of your action figures. If you set them up or your lego figurines, whatever you, whatever you have or whatever your kids have that you can borrow for a little bit to get creative in your studio or outside in the front yard or on your porch railing or something like that where you could set these little figures up and and cool positions and groups and stuff like that and then using either the whole good toy lens or the lens baby to get some really cool and unique shots and just see where your creative Jesus take you.

Liam Douglas: 14:28 The point is that I’m trying to make here is there’s a lot of different ways that you can get really, really creative with your photography and that’s the idea. I always recommend that people try new and different things just to kind of keep their creative juices flowing, whether it’s playing around with creative lenses or using your wide angle lens for something other than its original intention, which is landscapes or anything else. Do a personal project and I’ll talk about that and another episode of this podcast. But like I said today I just wanted to talk about how to get more use out of your wide angle lens and be creative and how to play around with some really cool inexpensive lenses that you can buy in the whole good toy lens and the lens baby. Now the whole goal is I mentioned is really, really inexpensive because it’s just a plastic lens.

Liam Douglas: 15:27 There’s no real moving parts to it or anything. The Lens baby on the other hand is going to run you some money. I think the cheapest lens baby you can currently buy, um, it’s probably about $150 brand new and they run up to as expensive as I think four or $500 for some of the models. But the cool thing is is lens baby. And the whole get toi lenses. Both companies make their lenses available in a wide variety of mounts, so it’s not gonna matter if you’re shooting canon or Nikon or Sony or Pentax or Fuji or like a or ha or whatever the case may be. You should be able to find one of these creative lenses on Amazon or Ebay that you can pick up for a reasonable price and you can have a lot of fun with.

Liam Douglas: 16:16 So that’s where I’m going to leave it today with this episode. I hope that you enjoyed listening to this episode as much as I enjoyed recording it and sharing my ideas and how you can be a lot more creative with your photography. This has been the Liam photography podcast. I’m your host Liam Douglas. Be Sure to stop by and join the Facebook group under Leanne photography podcast. In order to join, you have to answer one question. All you have to know is the host name, which is myself and you’re in the group. Also stop by the website, Liam photography, where you can listen to any of our previous episodes, anytime you want. You can stream them right off the website. And of course you can use your favorite podcatcher application, whether it’s iTunes, Google, play, stitcher, Spotify, and hopefully at some point soon I’ll get them to put us on Pandora is well, all right, so now get out there and make some great images and I’ll see you next time. In episode 12

Speaker 2: 17:20 [inaudible].