Get Close, Go Wide – 31+ Days To Better Photography

Yesterday’s Topic: Shooting Waterfalls

Here’s a simple technique to start adding some dimension to your shots. It’s quick and fun.

The idea is easy; get close and go wide. It helps if you have a wide angle lens, such as a 16mm on a full frame sensor or a 10mm on a cropped sensor. Most people use these lenses for their ability to capture wide angles for grand scenics. Wonderful and all, but the lenses also have the ability to focus close.

Get close, go wide means just that. Find an object and get as close as you can, dropping it into one of the lines for the Rule Of Thirds, just as a place to start. Now move. Your body or the camera, that is. From side to side and at different angles, the amount of focus will change as well as the depth of field. The idea here is to try to bring some of the background into focus, so you’ll need a higher f-stop, such as f/11 or so. If not enough of the background is not in focus, back up just ever so slightly. Little changes make a big difference at times.

The alternative is to let the background blur to abstraction. Along with this, let the image flow in a direction so the viewer’s eye is lead across the image, even if into the blurred area.

This method can be handy on a number of subjects.  Here are some examples to help get the juices flowing.

Next Up: Action Blur On Purpose

31 Days To Better Photography is a series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey on The Carey Adventures.Com. The series is designed to unravel the mysteries of photography so you can take better pictures. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.

9 Replies to “Get Close, Go Wide – 31+ Days To Better Photography”

  1. George Maciver

    I don’t have a wide angle lens but I can see I’m going to need one, thanks Peter, brilliant stuff.

  2. TL Wood

    I think you should do 365 days to better photography! Really enjoying this journey. Don’t stop!

  3. carlos pando

    I also vote for the “don’t stop!” getting small constant dosis of photo related knowledge has being great. Brief clear explanations helping a lot to round up some concepts and ideas. I am glad I catched this from the very begining. Thanks Peter.

    And if you have place for two more post-its, I have a couple of questions: My camara (Sony alpha 300) has a dinamic range optimizer that can be set as off/standard/advanced when is better to use one setting or another? or are there any drawbacks of setting the advanced mode allways?
    And about white balance, I was told (and agree) thatsetting the white balance manualy is a good idea. And I usually do that when I have a white bunny that I may use as reference, and try to use the presets when all I can see are Yetis, before going to the auto white balance. But I have been wondering if over/uder exposing a shot has to do with the white balance, or is it only related to the light source. For example I have only artificial light and it remains the same, and adjust my white balance to a certain set of the parameter on the exposure triangle, should I change my white balance if I change any/all of the parametes? will the changes be noticeable enough?

    once again Thanks Peter.

    • Peter West Carey Post author

      Thanks Carlos.

      I haven’t had a chance to play around with the Alpha 300 and that particular feature, but my guess is it’s doing some type of HDR combining in camera to expand the dynamic range beyond the standardish 7 or so stops. Play around with it in a couple of high contrast situations to see what effect it has. For instance, set up a low light, high contrast situation, like a candle in a dark room and a few subjects at various distances. Then shoot some in bight, day light situations.

      Setting the white balance manually works well if the light situation is not shifting, like in studio work, and if you’re shooting in JPEG. Remember, shooting in RAW eliminates the need to worry much beyond the auto setting as it can be made accurate in the computer. This is certainly not to say you shouldn’t strive to get it right the first time, but it’s less vital in RAW mode.
      To answer your question, over and under exposure won’t affect the white balance and the temperature of the light source will not change. Therefor, you will not need to adjust the white balance when over or under exposing if the light source isn’t changing.

  4. Janice

    When I take photos of people, I have problems with getting the people looking close up. Especially, full body shots. They look like they are so far away when I get the full body in, without cutting them off. When I take head/shoulder shots, I can get in close but have a problem with framing. When the photo is printed out it cuts a lot of the person/people and background off. I have a Tamron 18-270mm lens. Do I need a wide angle lens? What to do with lens I have?

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