Wide Angle Tips and Tricks

A few months ago, I bought the full-frame Canon 5D as a back-up and have since embraced obscenely wide shots; my 16-35mm rarely comes off of the 5D during concerts now, and it’s normally stuck on the 16mm side.

The top five things I’ve learned as I’ve been working more and more with my wide angle:

1. The best shots are when the band comes to the edge of the stage. Despite this being true for concert shots in general, the closer the subject is to the lens, the more impact that shot has.

Mest @ The House of Blues

2. Shooting at an upwards (or downwards, but that’s not as easily obtainable) angle creates distortion. If you want to make someone look 10 feet tall, crouch near his or her feet and shoot straight up.

Quietdrive @ The Metro

3. Depth of field is exaggerated. If you’re shooting a band that tends to play with photographers by pointing into lenses or sticking their face into cameras, you want a wide angle lens. The photo will almost look 3D, or in some cases, cartoonish.

Semi-Precious Weapons @ Cobra Lounge

4. Wide angles are fantastic for crowd shots. Turn around in the pit and take a shot of the front row – even if it’s a small venue, it’ll look like the place is packed.

Mest @ The House of Blues

5. Going in the other direction, wide angle lens are useful for when the performer is farther back on the stage and you want to include miscellaneous stage gear in your composition. I love using monitors, cables, and mics to help frame the shot.

Dragonforce @ Mayhem Fest

Like I said, I’ve only truly embraced wide angle shots for a few months, so I’m sure there are more tricks out there that I haven’t covered. What are your favorite ways of utilizing your wide angle?

A few more examples:

2 thoughts on “Wide Angle Tips and Tricks

  1. Thanks for this, I wish I saw it before shooting Nine Inch Nails again last week. I just got a wideangle (Tokina 11-16mm) and I *love* it but your tips would have helped me use it better! I feel if I could have gotten a little closer to the subject they would have come out better but there is so much gear in the pit at NIN that it’s hard to get right up to the stage. Still, I can see that lens is going become parked, as yours is, on my D300; or at least be the first one I run out with and then I’ll change later.

  2. How do you like the Tokina? I’ve seen a lot of people use it… the idea of such a wide angle intrigues me 🙂 And, yeah, I can see how it would be hard to get right up to the stage, but even if you got a few lower angles with the wide angle, I’m sure they’d still be interesting and fun!

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