By and large, the landscape images you see in magazines and online are taken with a wide-angle lens. It’s the go-to focal length for landscapes for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that the angle of view allows you to capture more of the scene before you. For that reason, a wide-angle lens is a crucial part of a landscape photography kit.
Where a normal focal length lens (50mm on a full frame camera or 35mm on a crop sensor) captures a landscape much like we see it with our own eyes, a wide-angle lens creates an image with a wider angle of view. From sweeping vistas to close-up shots of individual landscape elements, wide-angle lenses (which is generally anything wider than the lenses listed above) produce results that are pleasing to the eye.
Let’s explore a few tips and tricks that will help you get the most compelling shots with your wide-angle lens.
Highlight the Broad View
Going with a wide-angle lens means you can capture more of the landscape before you in a single frame. That’s advantageous for a couple of reasons. First, wide-angle lenses allow you to show off the grand scale of a landscape. If vastness of space is an important aspect of the scene, a wide-angle lens will help you capture that.
Second, a wide-angle lens gives you an opportunity to highlight a single, strong subject by placing it in a position of importance in the frame while simultaneously allowing you to show the relationship of that subject with the larger landscape. That, in turn, assists you in telling a stronger story about the subject and its place in the immediate environment.
This trick in action: Using a wide-angle lens allowed the photographer of the image above to highlight the tree in the foreground while still giving us a view of the surrounding landscape. Without a wide-angle lens, getting so close to that three would obscure the surrounding environment. What’s more, by going wide-angle, we get a better feel for how distant the mountains are in the background. In that regard, the wide-angle lens helps tell a more compelling story about how desolate the landscape is and how isolated the tree is within that space.