View Full Version : Wide angle portraits?

14-Dec-2011, 17:16
Hello, I am wondering about what to expect shooting a portrait with a wide angle (58mm on 4x5) lens. I have read that view camera lenses do not suffer the distortion associated with many small format wide angle or fisheye lenses. I have shot only a couple of tests with my 58mm SA XL so I really don't have a feel for the lens yet.

I am thinking of shooting a small group (4 or fewer people) indoors. Camera to subject distance will be pretty close, and I am wondering what kind of feeling the image will have. Does anyone have examples to point to for this type of image?

If the people in the image will be distorted, I will rethink my approach. Thanks.

14-Dec-2011, 17:23
It sounds like you understand that if the camera is "close" to the person then, things closer to the lens appear disproportionately larger than they should.

It seems like you are asking instead about distortion - as in barrel or pin cushion distortion - yes?

14-Dec-2011, 17:56
BradS, yes I am asking about distortion, and also about the sizes of the people closer and farther from the lens. I guess the best way is to try it. If I can get some input from people who shoot portraits with wide (sub-90mm on 4x5) lenses, and possibly see some examples, it would help me prepare for the image taking.

I will be traveling "on location" (in-laws' house two states away) so I am bringing only the bare essentials for equipment, which means one lens.

14-Dec-2011, 17:56
you should probably put them arranged to look AT the camera instead of straight ahead...like their noses pointed AT the lens--directly AT the lens...then the heads will all appear to be in their proper proportions....like have them arranged like at 11:00, 12:00, 1:00 for 3 people accross...same distance from the lens as measured from a string from the end of the lens..that keeps the heads the same size too--that will "reduce" the disturbing factors.if you put them all against a flat wall and do this, the peoples heads closest to the edges will go from circular to elliptical--and noses will stretch too...very disturbing and very much unlike the ones in the middle.

58mm up close...man...you're asking for it, but it could work...say do head and shoulders all round like a poker table shot...it could work---only one way to find out.

Ben Syverson
14-Dec-2011, 17:57
Don't confuse distortion with perspective. A 100% perfectly rectilinear image (pinhole) can still look "distorted" by perspective projection even though it has no distortion.

14-Dec-2011, 18:01
anything near the corners will appear quite distorted. I've shot some with a 65mm and didn't like it. By the looks of it, Shelby Lee Adams, shoots people with wide lenses (maybe not that wide) quite a bit. The distortion is pretty evident. Check out his work.

John Conway
14-Dec-2011, 18:29
Shelby Lee Adams is a fine example of how wide angle works for certain a type of portraiture. The subject is photographed in their environment and the wide angle does that well. Bill Brandt, my favorite , did great portraiture. He used a Hassy with 38mm biogon. Brandts portraits told a little story about the person being photographed.He usually placed the subject close so they dominated the picture. Shelby does the same thing. Very powerful.

Frank Petronio
14-Dec-2011, 19:15
Chip Simons http://www.chipsimons.com/gallery.html?folio=Gallery&gallery=I%20am%20a%20dog

Lee Friedlander and his Hasselblad SWC http://www.flickr.com/groups/hasselblad/discuss/72157623845126267/

14-Dec-2011, 19:40
Thanks all, this is good stuff. I like the environmental aspects of some of the images. Gives me some ideas to think about.

17-Dec-2011, 21:19
I made an environmental portrait of my daughter playing piano, done with a 58mm SA XL, wide open. Lighting was from a north facing window and an incandescent lamp on the piano. I really liked the perspective and feeling of the image.

Looking at the Shelby Lee Adams work, I am wondering what lens(es) he uses for his 4x5 work. Does anyone know? I googled the internet and searched this site, and didn't come up with anything. It would be great to see some different artists using wide/very wide lenses on 4x5 film for people images.

John Conway
18-Dec-2011, 08:23
I read an article in Camera & Darkroom about Shelby Adams. The September 1994 issue with a six page spread about his Appalachian work. Shelby used a Linhof (Kardan bi monorail) and 65 to 250 lenses. His two most used lenses were the 65 and 180. He said that he liked the 65 for the tightly framed faces.

19-Dec-2011, 23:28
Have a look at the PBS American Masters video on Richard Avedon, especially the sequence where he takes Andre Gregory's portrait from maybe two feet away.

Henry Carter
23-Dec-2011, 14:49
Shelby Lee Adams uses a 65mm on 4x5 for many of his wide angle portraits.

23-Dec-2011, 17:30
well..them portraits now...they're like full body...like at portrait distance (4 feet or better).....I have not seen too many " up close' with the super angulons, you know?

23-Dec-2011, 17:46
OH...except for them dog pictures....but no people really...except for 35mm camera shots with arty fisheyes of huge mouths smiling with huge teeth....rock-n roll stuff...skate punk pics...stuff like that...but that's all

alex from holland
26-Dec-2011, 10:48
Sorry, wrong post