I didn’t buy the Irix Blackstone 11mm f/4 because of its optical qualities even though they are more than satisfactory. Truth be told, I wanted to experience what it would be like to shoot ultra wide-angle (UWA) for the sheer fun of it.
There are plenty of reviews for this lens, so this article has a different aim. I will share some images and a few words on how it feels to use the lens. In addition, I will mention a few ideas on how to take advantage of the wide-angle distortion.
Even though this is a rectilinear lens there will be distortions. An UWA lens will stretch the edges, and it will diminish objects in the middle of the frame.
The Irix’ maximum angle of view is a whopping 126 degrees, so you have to be careful how you place both your and your tripod’s feet.
The fact that an 11mm lens stretches the edges can be used to make rather dull foregrounds more interesting. Look at the modest rock and pieces of ice in the image below. Also, notice how the lens stretches the moon giving it more prominence in the frame.
The log in the next image was less than a meter long, but at 11mm it stretches far into the frame. It now works as a great leading line towards the light.
I absolutely love the surreal feeling I experience when I look through the viewfinder with the Irix mounted on the camera. The lens completely alters proportions and perspective.
Ultra wide-angle lenses produces converging lines almost with no effort. Those lines create depth in a scene. Lines and clouds work as pointers towards the middle of the frame.
The next two images depict a waterfall in the western parts of Norway. I had to trash several images from this location because I miscalculated the wide-angle effect. The foregrounds simply took up too much of the frame and added nothing to the image.
Rivers and V-shape
Standing on a bridge and shooting a river with the Irix 11mm produces photos where the river seems to stretch forever. The lens almost automatically produces V-shaped compositions since it prolongs the edges. V-shapes create depth and pull the viewer into a scene.
In the last photo, I have placed the background mountain high in the frame which makes it taller and more prominent than what it is in reality.
A wide-angle lens effectively stretches mountains if we place them along the upper edge of the frame. We would then also have to shoot one image which encapsulates more of the sky. The two images are blended in Photoshop.
An 11mm lens is perfect for the classical converging trees scene:
An ultra wide-angle lens is very entertaining and fun to use. It offers fresh perspectives on scenes, and gives us the opportunity to achieve results in the field which otherwise would be impossible. In particular, I love the surreal feel the lens often adds to a landscape.