Up Close with a Wide Angle Lens

A wide angle lens or the wide angle setting on your camera is useful for more than capturing a grand vista. A wide angle lens and its broad depth of field (the amount of the image that is perceived to be in focus) also allow you to step in close to dramatically portray your subject, even a small one, against a wide background. There are a couple of great advantages here:

 ·         It allows you to put your subject in context.

·         It helps to express the expanse of the subject;                that it seems to go on forever.

·         It provides a dynamic close-up of the subject.

 The process is simple:

 ·   Place the subject as close to the camera as the minimum focus on the camera will allow.

In the flower image here, the front element of the lens was just a couple of inches from the flowers. 

The wider the lens, the closer you can get to your subject. You can even add an extension tube between the lens and the body and almost crawl inside the subject but that is a topic for another day.

·   Use a small f-stop. Even though wide angle lenses are known for their broad depth of field, the closer you get to the subject, the more careful you will have to be. The larger the f-stop number, the more the background will be in focus. So, f-16 would have more in focus than f-8.  

If you have a depth of field preview button on your camera, use it to check what will be in focus and what will not. 

If you don’t have a DoF preview button, take a picture and look at it on your camera’s LCD screen. Most cameras will let you zoom in and check for critical focus. 

§  Fiddle with your settings and the distance to the subject until you get the look you envisioned.

·  Watch out for lens flare. With a wide angle lens, it is easy to get lens flare when the sun can hit the front element of the lens. This is often the case when side or backlighting like in the upper left corner of the photo of the ice crystals. You may need to shade the lens with a hat or card (lens shades are often inadequate for this). You can see the effect you are having and when the lens is shaded in the viewfinder.

·         When animals or pets are cooperative, you can apply this same technique. Get up close and personal and use the background to set the scene like this mallard duck image taken at Lake Powell, Utah.

"WOW. What a phenomenal piece you wrote. You are amazing." Jennifer Jackson

That is embarrassing, but actually a fairly typical response to my nature essays. Since The Best of Nature is created from the very best of 16 years of these nature essays published weekly in the Idaho Falls Post Register (online readership 70,000), it is a fine read. It covers a wide variety of topics including humorous glimpses of nature, philosophy, natural history, and conservation. Readers praise the style, breadth of subject matter and my ability to communicate complex and emotional topics in a relaxed and understandable manner.

Everyone can find something to love in this book. From teenagers to octogenarians, from the coffee shop to the school room, these nature essays are widely read and enjoyed.

Some of the essays here are my personal favorites, others seemed to strike a chord with readers. Most have an important message or lesson that will resonate with you. They are written with a goal to simultaneously entertain and educate about the wonderful workings of nature. Some will make you laugh out loud and others will bring a tear to the eye and warm your heart.

Readers Write:

"You hit a home run with your article on, Big Questions in Nature. It should be required reading for everyone who has lost touch with nature...great job!" Joe Chapman

"We enjoyed your column, Bloom Where Planted. Some of the best writing yet. The Post Register is fortunate to have your weekly columns." Lou Griffin.

To read more and to order a copy, click here or get the Kindle version 


Copies are also available at:

Post Register

Island Park Builders Supply (upstairs)

Barnes and Noble in Idaho Falls

Harriman State Park, Island Park

Museum of Idaho

Valley Books, Jackson Wyoming

Avocet Corner Bookstore, Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, Brigham City, Utah

Craters of the Moon National Monument Bookstore, Arco, Idaho