Thoughts on Using Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses for Landscape Photography

Sunset at Matterhorn Rock, Big Sur Coast, California.
Sony a7RIII, Sony 12-24mm, f/16, 100 ISO

I’ve just returned from teaching my Spring Big Sur Workshop this past week. We had a fun and passionate group of photographers who braved stormy conditions for the first couple days.

For the final sunset shoot, I decided to take the group to Matterhorn Rock. The storm had left town and the conditions were perfect for our last shoot together.

I have shot so many times at Matterhorn that I considered leaving my camera in the bag and just enjoy the show. Then I realized that I had never shot this location with my 12-24mm lens, so I decided to give it a go and find a composition at 12mm.

Extreme wide-angle lenses beg for a closeup and interesting foreground. The old saying, “fill the frame,” is never more apt then when composing extremely wide.

Fortunately the rock shelf where I had positioned our group was perfect and it offered incredible texture and patterns.

I had to be careful not to angle the lens down or I would have had to deal with a bowed horizon.

The curved front element of the Sony 12-24mm ensures sharpness all the way out to edges of the frame. I opted for an aperture of f/22, not for a need of increased depth-of-field; rather, I wanted to ensure capturing a sharp sun star with the sun sitting along the soft edges of the clouds.

Going ultra-wide is easier than ever nowadays with all the great new glass hitting the market. Prices are very reasonable and its fun playing with different compositions of locations you have shot in the past.

Would Love to Hear Your Thoughts!

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4 Comments on “Thoughts on Using Ultra Wide-Angle Lenses for Landscape Photography

  1. Hmmm. Wouldn’t the horizon be in the center of the image if the camera with super wide was NOT pointed either up or down? I really enjoyed the Spring Big Sur shoot a couple of years ago and have been trying to find time to go back. Thx.

    • Not quite sure of your question Roy – I’ll have to go back and see how I wrote it. If the camera was pointed level the horizon would be level, but is pointed even slightly up or down would cause some bowing effect. Fortunately software is so good at allowing us to correct this distortion that it really is not an issue these days.

  2. Beautiful image, Don. Thanks for the tips on shooting ultra-wide. I especially took note of not pointing the lens down to avoid a bowed effect. Always learn something new from reading your posts.

    • I very much appreciate you taking the time to read my posts Gail. Sharing knowledge is what it is all about. Hope you are having a wonderful day!