Wide-angle lenses are the most popular lens choice for landscape photography as they allow you to capture the beauty of a vast landscape.
Shooting landscape photographs with a wide-angle lens
What is a wide-angle lens
A wide-angle lens is any lens with a short focal length. Basically, the shorter the focal length of the lens, the wider the field of view, and the more you’re able to fit into your frame (e.g. a mountain range). On a full-frame camera this is any focal length wider than about 40mm, whereas on an APS-C camera it’s a focal lengths wider than 25mm. The wider angle of a stock 18-55mm lens will be suitable if you are starting out. If you find you are searching for for more width then you can invest in a wide-angle lens like the Fujifilm 10-24mm, Canon 10-18mm or Nikon 10-24mm.
Find the landscape photograph you want to capture:
When you look through a wide angle lens you can capture a lot of information and people often get caught up trying to include everything. It’s important however that everything has a place in the image and that you limit what you capture to allow it to make sense. So the challenge in creating a great landscape photograph is creating an image that has enough information but not too much.
Keep your foreground interesting
It’s important that you create an image with a strong foreground. The foreground needs to have some sort of relationship with the background so they complement each other and produce an image that is visually interesting. An example of a typical foreground in a landscape photograph is rocks or drift wood in a stream or lake before a mountain range.
Create a link between the foreground and background: To create a link between the foreground and background there is usually a path or visual queue to travel from one to the next. With a wide angle lens this pushes the scene apart and makes the scene appear like there is more depth than it really has.
Understand how a wide-angle lens can distort an image
Wide-angle lenses have an interesting effect on straight lines in that they end up converging vertical lines to completely change the angle of those lines. This can be both positive or negative depending on the landscape photograph you are trying to capture. For sweeping views this won’t really affect the image too much however if you are using your wide-angle lens to capture a tighter image you will start to see the distortion.
You can use the distortion to your advantage if you know this will happen as you can use the vertical lines to converge to a single focal point. You can also make subjects like trees and their branches appear bigger than they are by using the distortion to give a “clam shell” effect to the branches. This distortion can be used to accentuate the foreground and give visual flow to where you want the eye to travel throughout the image.
Taking the landscape photograph
When setting up your shot you need to focus on picking a strong foreground, having a relationship between the foreground and the background, and establishing depth and a clear path throughout. You also need to determine if everything in the frame is necessary? Is there something in there distracting? You may also get some distortion from the lens, you need to embrace this as a way to create very unique, artistic images. Don’t be afraid to try different things, you might be surprised by the end result!