How and what do you photograph with a super wide lens? I find it so difficult.

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jodad

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For over 10 years I dreamed of a Hasselblad SWC. Now in my old age I have been able to pick one up.

I’ve had it for a couple of years. It’s not exactly a Hassy SWC but rather a technical camera with a 35grandagon and I have a 645 and 6x8 back for it. So, not really like a Hassy SWC at all. Still, with such a wide lens I really have difficulty finding subjects and making photographs that I don’t look at after and say “are you just shooting for the sake of using the machine?”.

When I shoot my 35mm cameras with a 35 or 50 lens or even my Bronica sq with a standard or long lens, I can make some exposures that I like.

I suppose my question is how do you compose 20mm lens equivalents and wider (I’ve also got a 15mm voigtlander for my 35mm camera). And other than architecture, what do you photograph? A friend recommended Jeanloup Sieff so I bought a book of his. I also have Friedlander’s dressing up. Couldn’t really get inspiration or ideas from these books.

Any help/advice/suggestions much appreciated. And please don’t suggest selling it on :wink: seriously.
 

Sirius Glass

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First of all to minimize the convergent lines, check the bubble level and keep it as close to level as you can.

Second, instead of getting as wide a photograph as you can, place one [or two] large objects close to the camera and let the rest fall where it may for striking compositions.

Look for compositions where is camera is very low to the ground or high up looking down.

The SWC is rectilinearly correct so put an adapter on the back of the camera and 45 degree viewfinder and walk around watching how doorways and arches look as you walk through them. In a door way, tilt it up and bring it to level and then down to see how parallel lines move.

An article by Ken Rockwell. Yes he is not my favorite but is does bring some good things to the party.

Another article with some sage advice.
 
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jodad

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Great for architectural interiors.

Yes so I’ve read. Unfortunately, I have no interest in architectural interiors or architectural photography in general. If it’s ever an “architectural” photo that I take, it’s usually a small detail like a corner or unusual marking on a wall or some damaged concrete that has nice shadow and light.

I mean no offence to architectural photographers (I actually follow and enjoy some online). Personally, I just prefer/or simply am able to see and photograph a subject with a little more life or dynamism I suppose…
 
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jodad

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First of all to minimize the convergent lines, check the bubble level and keep it as close to level as you can.

Second, instead of getting as wide a photograph as you can, place one [or two] large objects close to the camera and let the rest fall where it may for striking compositions.

Look for compositions where is camera is very low to the ground or high up looking down.

The SWC is rectilinearly correct so put an adapter on the back of the camera and 45 degree viewfinder and walk around watching how doorways and arches look as you walk through them. In a door way, tilt it up and bring it to level and then down to see how parallel lines move.

An article by Ken Rockwell. Yes he is not my favorite but is does bring some good things to the party.

Another article with some sage advice.

Thanks a lot for this Sirius Glass (nice name).

I’m going to have to read it again a couple times and think on it. If you don’t mind, I’m probably going to have to come back and ask you some questions later 😬
 

Sirius Glass

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Thanks a lot for this Sirius Glass (nice name).

I’m going to have to read it again a couple times and think on it. If you don’t mind, I’m probably going to have to come back and ask you some questions later 😬

Feel free to ask in a post or PM.
 

Kino

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Yes, I lusted after a 30mm Arsat lens for my Kiev Medium Format cameras for a long time, but once I got the lens it sank-in that it's not a good lens for general photography and you have to adapt to that aesthetic.

It's a big chunk of glass to tote around and you have to think differently to use it effectively, but when you do find a good composition, it is quite satisfying.

It just takes some time and patience to appreciate the focal length and it's applications.
 
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Sirius Glass

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Yes, I lusted after a 30mm Arsat lens for my Kiev Medium Format cameras for a long time, but once I got the lens it sank it that it's not a good lens for general photography and you have to adapt to that aesthetic.

It's a big chunk of glass to tote around and you have to think differently to use it effectively, but when you do find a good composition, it is quite satisfying.

It just takes some time and patience to appreciate the focal length and it's applications.

The Hasselblad SWC and the Minolta MC f/2.8 21mm lens [my first wide angle lens I bought in the early 1970s] while very useful, are not going to be as useful as lenses in the "normal" range. So I found that I had to just walk around and look for opportunities to use them well. Once I learned to how to utilize them, I started using them more, but they still never get used as much as 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm lenses on 35mm cameras. You may want to keep that in mind before buying a very wide angle lens.

By the way, I took the Hasselblad SWC and wandered around Greek island towns with very narrow streets and the Plaka area of Athens and used it almost like a normal lens.
 

ntenny

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I find wides difficult too, but I’ve had some luck with 21mm (on 35mm format—not quite the 20mm-and-less range you asked for, but right on the cusp). The most useful thought I have, borrowed from something I read somewhere (likely here), is that the point isn’t to get more stuff in the frame; it’s to get closer to the subject and change the perspective accordingly.

Looking at what I’ve shot with that length, the winners mostly seem to be environmental portraits and tight interior spaces. I don’t have an interest in architectural interiors either, but sometimes there’s an interesting shot in a small room.

-NT
 

Sirius Glass

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If you are on a dock, walk up to the bow of the ship and aim a very wide angle lens up at the bow. Do you like what you see?
 

Nitroplait

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Friedlander’s America by Car is one of my favorite books. Exclusively shot with the SWC.
Lots of wide angle examples in his work in general.
 
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jodad

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once I got the lens it sank-in that it's not a good lens for general photography and you have to adapt to that aesthetic.
Yes, I think this is also partly the issue for me.


It just takes some time and patience to appreciate the focal length and its applications.
Indeed, at the beginning I had a slightly similar issue with the move from 50 to 35 on 35mm format. Although it wasn’t as difficult, perhaps it’s the same issue here.
 
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20mm and wider is where I start relaxing my usual 'no Dutch angles' policy.

One practical bit of advice would be to use the 15mm for a while. When you switch to the 20mm equivalent it will feel like it isn't wide enough.
 
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jodad

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Once I learned to how to utilize them, I started using them more, but they still never get used as much as 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm lenses on 35mm cameras. You may want to keep that in mind before buying a very wide ang
Yes I’ve been thinking it’s going to have to be one of this two cameras with you when you go out situations. The 35mm in trouser pocket and the super wide off the shoulder or in the bag for when opportunity presents.

By the way, I took the Hasselblad SWC and wandered around Greek island towns with very narrow streets and the Plaka area of Athens and used it almost like a normal lens.

This might be quite a good idea for me to try. There are a couple of spots in my town with very tight streets. I’ll try this there!
 
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jodad

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I find wides difficult too, but I’ve had some luck with 21mm (on 35mm format—not quite the 20mm-and-less range you asked for, but right on the cusp). The most useful thought I have, borrowed from something I read somewhere (likely here), is that the point isn’t to get more stuff in the frame; it’s to get closer to the subject and change the perspective accordingly.

Looking at what I’ve shot with that length, the winners mostly seem to be environmental portraits and tight interior spaces. I don’t have an interest in architectural interiors either, but sometimes there’s an interesting shot in a small room.

-NT

Thanks NT. How do you avoid the wide angle unflattering warping/widening of subjects in these portraits?
I was wondering this looking at Friedlander´s Dressing Up Fashion Week book (link below). I dont really see the wharping and wondered how he managed it.


Here, this work looks fantastic and a brilliant use for such a lens, really capturing the hecticness in a beautiful way and seemingly without wide angle warping and fattening
 

ic-racer

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I like super wide lenses. Here are a few with 18mm on 35mm camera.

small 18mm.jpeg
 
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jodad

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Friedlander’s America by Car is one of my favorite books. Exclusively shot with the SWC.
Lots of wide angle examples in his work in general.

I need to check this one out. Thanks for the recommendation
 

Sirius Glass

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Thanks NT. How do you avoid the wide angle unflattering warping/widening of subjects in these portraits?
I was wondering this looking at Friedlander´s Dressing Up Fashion Week book (link below). I dont really see the wharping and wondered how he managed it.


Here, this work looks fantastic and a brilliant use for such a lens, really capturing the hecticness in a beautiful way and seemingly without wide angle warping and fattening

Do not use very wide angle lenses for portraits of people that you like. Especially do not have a face near the edge of a very wide angle lens' field of view.
 

ic-racer

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I don't have the 38mm Biogon, but I do have a 40mm Distagon and a 40mm Super Angulon for 6x6cm format:

Trailer 1200 copy.JPG
2009 copy.jpg
 

ic-racer

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I think of the super wides as some kind of 'special effect' but it is difficult not to be too cliché.


ice 5.jpeg
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2006Cover 2.jpg
 
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