A Simple Composition Technique to Improve Your Wide Angle Photography

When you use a wide angle lens, you can fit so many things in the frame, it can be difficult knowing what you should include and what you shouldn't. Here, we take a look at one simple composition technique you can use to enhance your wide angle photography skills.

When I first began my photography journey as a backpacking university student, I was typically using lenses in the 40-50mm range, as that's what I'd been told represented the best focal length for candid, in-situ street photography. I soon gave up shooting people having coffee in little Paris caf├ęs and moved onto surfing photography, where I most often used supertelephoto lenses. Thus, when I first got my hands on a 16mm lens and put it on a full-frame camera, I was left giddy by all the things I could include in the frame compared with what I'd been used to. But that presented its own challenges: what should I keep, and what should I cull?

It's a common concern for people using wide angle lenses, and in this great video by Gareth Evans from Park Cameras, he walks us through one great composition tip to help you improve your wide angle photography. When you use a wide angle lens, you might struggle with having too much sky or too much background, or conversely, you might overcompensate and try to get too close to your subject to eliminate such distractions. What can you do? Think of your frame in three parts: not necessarily using the rule of thirds, but trying to have a strong point of interest in three parts of your frame, whether it be the foreground, middle, and background parts, or three other sections. To see this practice in detail, give the video a look and let me know your thoughts.

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Iain Stanley is an Associate Professor teaching photography and composition in Japan. He has presented at conferences globally and written for numerous international publications. To learn more about his work, his life in Japan, or how he plans to semi-retire at 64, check out his writing on Medium by clicking the website link above.

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