Equipment is everything in the photography community and no peace of kit polarizes opinion like the fisheye lens. This type of lens produces an extreme wide-angle image which distorts lines to make them appear curved. There are those who view these distorted images as a mere gimmick, but in the hands of a skilled photographer the results can be incredibly eye-catching.
As with every lens, we encourage experimentation, however, when shooting fisheye, a bit of knowledge can go a long way. Here are some handy tips to help you harness the unique power of these lenses.
There are two types of fisheye lens: circular and full-frame.
A full-frame fisheye lens captures a 180 degrees’ diagonal image (from corner to corner). These types of lenses excel at landscape photography and are the more popular of the pair.
A circular fisheye lens captures a full 180-degree image in all directions. You’ll recognise photos shot with this type of lens because they result in a circular image surrounded by black around the frame. While popular for extreme sports photography and abstract art endeavours, they are less practical for most photographers. For those who desire options, the AF-S Fisheye NIKKOR 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED lens offers the best of both worlds.
Cityscapes can be a photographer’s playground, but unfortunately many buildings are too tall for a normal lens to do them justice. Fisheye lenses allow you to not only capture the full extent of buildings and structures, but emphasize their scale. Similarly, if you find yourself at a high vantage point, you can capture a stunning bird’s eye view shot from above. Fisheye lenses are also beneficial for architects who use them to capture expansive spaces and ceilings.
Chances are you have seen many instances of fisheye photography and were completely unaware. When shooting landscape photography, if you place the horizon in the middle of your frame, you can capture an almost 180-degree view without the distorted signature fisheye look. This is most-often achieved in nature, as straight lines like buildings or street lamps, don’t exist.
Although it seems counterintuitive, if you’d like the horizon below the centre of your image, point your lens up. Alternatively, if you’d like the horizon above, point the lens down.
Finally, curvature can be your best friend with a fisheye lens, so try and seek out curved lines in architecture and the world around you to create some truly larger-than-life images.
Experimentation is the name of the fisheye game. When you shoot from up close the distorted lines can produce some spectacular, funky results. If you place the item you want to be prominent in the centre of the frame, the surrounding imagery becomes increasingly more warped as you move towards the edge of the frame.
A fisheye can make for unflattering human portraits, but if you capture your pet’s nose head on, you can capture some fun, unorthodox portraits. There’s only one way to find out!