While I cannot yet share any of my photos from last week’s road trip, I can share one of the lessons. We were joined on the third day of our Popular Mechanics road test by photographer Mark Peterson. I noticed that when he took my picture with a wide-angle lens, he got low and he got close. I’ve read that this is an effective way to use a wide angle lens, but shied away from the practice myself, fearing distortion. A light bulb went off as I watched Mark, because he got VERY LOW and VERY CLOSE. After I got home and looked at Mark’s web site, I realized that he makes that distortion work for him.
I decided to give it a try when I shot publicity photos for the Ojai Art Center Theater production of The Odd Couple (Female Version), even though I don’t have a real wide angle lens – the 17mm lens on my Nikon D300 equates to a 25.5mm lens on a 35mm camera. I got lower and moved in closer than usual, and I like the effect. Normally I’m pretty shy, so I use longer lenses to get close, but that changes perspective and, because it requires a great working distance, causes compression (loss of dimensionality). On my next few assignments, I’m going to experiment with getting lower and getting closer with my wider lenses.
And I’m going to take every opportunity to watch other photographers at work. It’s one thing to look at the images and read about techniques, but there’s a lot to be learned by seeing the physicality of image capture.