Wide Angle Lens Project
Accentuating angles with wide-angle lenses usually make for more powerful images. I am not a great fan of extreme wide-angle lenses, the type that unnaturally distort an image, but anything around 28mm on a camera with a full frame sensor works for me. I would go down to 24mm on occasion but expect a degree of distortion to creep in when using a lens this wide.
Leading lines can be particularly effective with wide angle lenses as they accentuate perspective, increasing the perception of depth in the image which therefore more often than not gives it more impact.
The other thing about wide angle lenses is that you can get a lot in the frame. This may not always be what you want but in relation to street photography it’s often useful to get a fair bit in the frame as it all adds to the story within it. It’s nice however to have a single focal point and this might be a larger element in the foreground and the remaining part of the scene in the background. If you think about the rule of thirds this foreground element might well be off to one side of the image. Using a wide-angle lens means that very often you can position yourself, so it appears that you are shooting at something to one side, to the right for instance, yet still have whatever is to your left well within the frame.
Try it. Get next to someone and position yourself so they are in the shot (this usually means being pretty close), while pointing your camera slightly to one side so they do not even realise they are in the frame. Try with someone you know to start with, who is well aware of what is going on, just to get a sense of the angles and distances involved according to the focal length of your particular lens. You might try the zone focusing technique covered in the next section for this one.
Once you have got a little more comfortable with this technique go out into the real world and try it. It’s particularly effective in towns and cities where there are a lot of tourists. Everyone is taking pictures, at any given moment half of the people in your immediate vicinity might have a camera to their eye so you should be able to pretty much shoot away unhindered.
Shoot for a day and see how many people you can get really close too without them realising they are in the frame. If you can also manage to get a great background fading into the distance in the shot, then even better!