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Cathedral with tall spire, in sunshine

What are wide-angle lenses best for? Architecture

Photography / No Comment / August 7, 2016

I bought a 17-40mm wide-angle zoom lens a couple of years ago but have found I don’t use it nearly as much as I expected. Given how wide-angle lenses exaggerate depth of field, making distant objects look even further away, they aren’t so good for most landscapes.

Where they come into their own, however, is architectural photography. The greater depth of field they offer lets you capture in one or two frames that a large building close-up that a standard focal length of 24mm or longer would need perhaps eight or nine.

On Sunday, having spent the day singing at services in Salisbury Cathedral, I was just packing up to go home and got out my camera to grab a couple of shots near where I was parked. I wondered if I could fit in the whole cathedral; the answer was not quite. Here are my two shots straight of camera:



The Merge to Panorama tool in Lightroom worked a treat. Here’s the preview image it created:


When I shared it on Instagram, I gave it a traditional 3:2 crop to lose some of the dead space in the foreground. But with hindsight, I think a stronger composition goes square to lose some of the tree in the foreground and zoom in tighter on the cathedral:


Nowadays, I try to shoot landscapes only at golden hour. This was an hour or so too soon for that, but it was too good a shot to miss. As far as I’m concerned, this was just a test shot: I will be back to do the building justice at golden hour.

Have you had a similar eureka moment over your lens choices? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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