Using lenses creatively

Most lenses photographers use have a particular form of usage and function according to their length, depth-of-field or f/stops. This has the negative throwback of those lenses being categorized as ‘unusable’ in other situations than the one’s the lens was ‘made for’. This however, is completely preposterous.

One of these lenses are the wide angle lenses, more particularly the UWA’s or Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses. These lenses offer an extreme viewpoint, incorporating the most in your picture. Landscape and architecture photographers cherish these lenses as they allow their users to capture an immense scenery, much bigger than say a 50mm or 105mm lens. Sport photographers will embrace fast, long telephoto lenses so they can get in on the action.

Nikon and Sigma offer superb UWA’s, a 10-20mm & a 12-24 mm respectively. This is one of the rare lenses of Sigma i’ll choose over the Nikon alternative (or is it the other way around?) Why? Simply put, it has those 2 extra mm’s which you crave for when shooting wide.


Lately I had to shoot a group portrait. The thing with group portraits is that usually since you have to incorporate a large number of people into 1 single shot, you don’t get a chance to embrace the surrounding. If you’re shooting on a backdrop in a studio there’s no need to, because of the plain backdrop but when you have an amazing set, it’s always nice.


This is where a UWA or WA comes in handy. Why doesn’t everyone use them then? Well, simply put because there are some issues to it, which can be avoided if used correctly.

One of the things to look out for is distortion. The thing with an UWA is that due to the immense scale of sight, you’re bound to encounter some amount of distortion, mostly around the edges. Try to center your subjects within your frame to stay clear of distortions,and you’ll be on your way.

Same goes for portraits. If you talk to another photographer about portraits, one of the lenses (before reading this post 😉 ) that probably wouldn’t come into the discussion is a lens like Sigma’s 10-20 or Nikon’s 12-24. I think it was Joe McNally that said ‘Shoot wide and push in tight’. The man was absolutely right. When you do this, you’ll be able to capture the environment as well as the person you’re supposed to shoot. This works GREAT for enviromental pictures.


Nikon dSLR, Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 at 10mm, ISO 200, f/8 .

You can clearly see here, how all these people are included in the frame, besides the environment which make for a great photo, without any distortion.

So next time you have to shoot something, and grab for the lens you normally would use, take a peek at all the other one’s in your bag screaming ‘pick me, pick me’. You might end up suprised and with a fantastic photo to show for.