Photography

How to Take a Wide-Angle Picture without a Wide-Angle Lens – by Doug Brauner

September 3, 2015

Photo: Stitched together from six pictures. 50mm ISO 800, 1/1000 sec, f/10, handheld, developed in Lightroom

There are times I don’t want to wear my heavy camera bag as I hike at the Garden of the Gods, and times that I don’t want to think about what lens would be best for a specific shot, and times that I want to simplify my picture-taking experience so that I’m more aware of my surroundings.

So, what do I do when my 50mm lens (75mm full frame equivalent) isn’t wide enough to capture the majesty of Pike’s Peak and the surrounding mountains? In the past I’d kick my myself for not having my wide-angle zoom with me, that is, until I learned how to turn my 50mm prime lens into a wide-angle lens.

Though it is much easier taking a wide-angle picture with a wide-angle lens, you can use a standard focal length lens (30mm-50mm) and create a wide-angle shot. Here’s the tools you will need to make a picture that you thought was impossible.

  1. camera (duh!)
  2. standard focal length lens, 30mm-50mm (another, duh!)
  3. software that stitches pictures together into a panorama, and edits your picture
  4. tripod (optional)

Here are the steps to create this picture a wide-angle picture.

  1. I used a 42mm setting with my Tamron 28-75mm zoom for this project. Here is what this picture would have looked like had I only taken one shot in landscape position.
    42mm

    42mm

  2. you’re going to take your pictures in PORTRAIT position, not landscape (height is longer than length).
  3. take five to six pictures moving left to right
    1. overlap each picture by about 1/3
    2. it is helpful to use the “grid view” on your viewfinder or LCD (I use the “rule of thirds” grid)
    3. identify a specific point in picture #1 where you will begin picture #2 and so forth with the other pictures
      untitled (2 of 7)untitled (3 of 7)untitled (4 of 7)untitled (5 of 7)untitled (6 of 7)untitled (7 of 7)
  4. after uploading your pictures to your computer, stitch these pictures together into a panorama
    untitled (2 of 7)-Pano
  5. crop this panorama to a standard ratio (4:3, 2:3, 16:9)
    4:3 ratio

    4:3 ratio

    2:3 ratio

    2:3 ratio

    16:9 ratio

    16:9 ratio

  6. edit your new wide-angle picture

Other helpful tips:

Though it is possible to follow this process with your camera set on program mode, it is better to use MANUAL MODE (but don’t let this scare you from trying this technique).

Set your WHITE BALANCE to whatever the light condition dictates. If it is a bright, sunny day set your camera to daylight. If it is a cloudy day set your camera’s white balance to cloudy. If you use auto white balance the tone of your pictures might change.

If you are hand-holding your camera try to keep your shutter speed at 1/125 second or higher but be careful that your aperture isn’t all the way open (f/2.8). A good starting point for your aperture might be f/8. If you are using a tripod try using f/16.

The best place to practice this technique is in your backyard. In fact, I often use my backyard as my photographic playground. You will be amazed at how your photography will improve when you’re okay with your neighbors thinking you’re a little crazy.

You can use this same technique with a wide-angle lens to make an even wider picture.

Happy shooting!

Text and pictures copyright Douglas P Brauner

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