Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The fish-eye experience, Part 4

Landscapes through the fish's eye

Using a fish-eye lens for shooting landscapes requires a bit of practice. If you-re like me, though, you'll enjoy practicing because the results are usually prove to be quite interesting.

For this trip, I was walking along the bank of the Neckar River in Remseck, just north of Stuttgart. It was a clear, sunny September day. I was with great friends and we were all have a terrific time enjoying the warm weather.

I was shooting with my Sony A7, the LA-EA4 adapter and the Samyang 8mm fish-eye lens. The full-frame camera sensor crops down to the center when this APS-C lens is screwed onto it, making it effectively a 12mm lens.
You will notice with the photo below that light creeps into the lens from all around - 180°, so you need to be conscious of that fact and, if you can, use it to your advantage. Stopped down to f11 or f14, intense light sources become star-shaped. Lens flare, as can be seen in the form of a hexagon in the bottom right third of the photo, is difficult to avoid, yet easy to see while framing the picture, so you can usually position it where you want it.

If you want to keep the horizon straight (and thus looking fairly natural), it is important to keep the camera level. This is easy to do with Sony cameras, which have the option of showing a level in the display. The top picture above was taken shooting slightly down to capture the rocks; one can see that the horizon is frowning as a result. Lightroom cannot correct this aberration, but Photoshop can.

 Sometimes it is possible to take a landscape picture and not have an easily defined horizon in it. Here one can see the star-shaped sun and lens flares balancing the sunlight and reflection on the other side of the photo.

 As so often happens when I'm out shooting for fun, something comes along and provides fodder for my frame. The river, the sun, the rocks, the tree-lined banks - all great. But now a barge chugs through the landscape and we all position ourselves to get the best angle. I love shooting into the sun. After three hours of it, my eyes need a rest, but the results are definitely worth it.

A square crop of a mid-horizon shot with some circle flare has a tighter composition on account of the rays of light.

My friend Jim Palik was with us, testing his Canon 5D, Mark II, against his new Samsung Galaxy S6, his new passion (the phone and the tests!). I wonder if he knows there is a fish-eye app on his phone!
Is there one on yours? What have your experiences with fish-eye lenses been?