Project 52: Wide Angle

This week’s theme was "wide angle," and it was really a learning experience for me. I’m not referring to learning about the theme so much as the experience. This was the first time I’ve attempted to photograph someone else’s pet.

Her Name is Lola, She was a mixed-breed

(Apologies to Barry Manilow)


Lola seems to always have a smile on her face.


Lola belongs to one of my neighbors, who adopted her from one of our local shelters several years ago. She is one of the cutest dogs I’ve ever seen, and always seems to have a smile on her face.

Photographing Lola was a challenge for two reasons. First, she wasn’t used to my camera. My dogs are used to getting photographed and think nothing of the camera. Even though Lola knows me, she was skittish about the camera. I’ve read some animals see the front of the camera lens as a big eye looking at them, which makes them feel they are being watched by a predator. I don’t know if that was the case here or if it was simply a strange thing she had never seen before.

The second reason Lola was a challenge was her energy. I would not be surprised if she has some terrier in her. It was difficult to track her and keep the camera focused on her. (Tip: Use AI-Servo (Canon) or whatever the mode is on your camera where autofocus tracks the subject.)

Wide Angle

This week’s topic was “wide angle.” Most photographers will interpret that topic as a suggestion to use a wide angle lens. I don’t have a dedicated wide-angle lens, so I had to use the “wide end” of my 24-105 mm lens.

The focal lengths below 50 mm are generally considered wide angle. As the name suggests, a wide angle lens lets you see more through the lens than a “normal” lens or a telephoto lens.

Perspective Distortion

I don’t shoot with a wide angle lens (or at the wide end of a zoom) that often. That’s because they are generally unflattering to people due to perspective distortion. 

You experience perspective distortion every day. Take two objects the same size and move one of them closer to you than the other. The closer one appears larger. That’s perspective distortion in a nutshell.

The effect is more apparent on wide angle lenses because the field of view is wider than the camera sensor. 

 In this snapshot, Mazy's head seems disproportionately large due to perspective distortion.

In this snapshot, Mazy's head seems disproportionately large due to perspective distortion.


Look at this snapshot of my Mazy (who has since gone across the Rainbow Bridge). The photo was taken at a focal length of 18 mm, which is pretty wide (Although it was on a crop sensor, but we won’t get into that adjustment here).. Her head appears disproportionately larger than the rest of her body.

There is not a way to “correct” for perspective distortion, you just have to work with it.

Optical Distortion

Another characteristic of a wide angle lens is a type of optical distortion known as barrel distortion. 

Barrel distortion manifests as objects toward the edge of the field of view curving toward the center of the frame.This is because the wide angle lens is basically “squeezing” the field of view inward to make it fit on the sensor.

Lens makers can take steps to minimize barrel distortion, but it is almost impossible to eliminate it on a zoom lens do to the number of elements (think of a lens element as a glass sub-lens that is inside the body of the lens), and the need to refract light differently along the range of focal lengths.

Additionally, most post-processing programs include some type of distortion correction. 

Below, I have two identical photos. I did not correct the distortion in the  photo on the left. I did correct the distortion in the photo on the right. If you click on one of the photos, you'll display them in a "lightbox," and you can click back and forth and easily see the distortion.

 This diagram illustrates the "bending" that happens with barrel distortion.

This diagram illustrates the "bending" that happens with barrel distortion.

Air Lola

Before you leave and head over to the next blogger, I wanted to share the photos of Lola jumping. I was very impressed by how high she could jump, considering her size. I was maybe 2 feet away from Lola when she jumped, so this gives you an idea of the field of view you can get with a wide angle lens, turned in portrait orientation.

Next in the Blog Circle . . .

As you should know by now if you’ve been reading these Project 52 posts, this is part of a blog circle. This post links to another, which links to another, and so on until it links back to here. So check out the wonderful work of other photographers and see their take on “wide angle.”

Up next is Kirsten Eitreim of KME Photography in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I can't wait to see her photos!