How to shoot action portraits on location using a wide angle lens

Oct 21, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to shoot action portraits on location using a wide angle lens

Oct 21, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I love using wide-angle lenses on location (although I don’t do it anywhere nearly as often as I should). They’re fantastic for showing your subjects in the context of the environment, enjoying their surroundings. They can really suck you into not only the feeling of the location but the mood of the subject, too. They’re not always easy to shoot, though.

In this video, Pye Jirsa shows us how he uses wide-angle lenses on location for engagement shoots to shoot action portrats and create images that he describes as “alive and immersive”. Pye talks about a number of techniques that offer a lot of different options for using wide-angle lenses on location.

The video opens up with Pye starting with a longer Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens on the Canon EOS R5 to illustrate the standard types of action portraits that people might go for on something like an engagement shoot. You’re standing way back, with a relatively shallow depth of field, with the obvious focus on your subjects and very little context about the environment. But then he switches over to the 24-70mm f/2, which offers a much wider angle of view and a bright f/2 aperture so you can still get a relatively shallow depth of field even at those short focal lengths.

When you see the difference between the images shot with long and short focal lengths, even though the couple themselves stay about the same size in the frame, you really do notice an obvious difference in the mood and feeling of the images. The subjects look larger than life and provide a lot of environmental context. The natural perspective distortion you get with a wide-angle lens when subjects are close to the lens just enhances the effect.

Although Pye’s using the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2L IS lens in this video, he generally recommends a 24mm or 35mm prime instead – if you’re using a full-frame sensor. If you’re using a crop sensor, you’ll want to go a little bit wider.

I really need to remember to take my wide-angle lenses out more often on portrait shoots.

[via SLR Lounge]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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