The problem with “special effect” lenses, is they can become a crutch. If we don’t have a subject or composition that’s very interesting, we can just throw a specialty lens at it, and more or less cheat.
A great example is the fisheye. If you use a fisheye correctly, it’s a very powerful tool, if you use it all the time, the line blurs on when you’re using it well, and when you’re just taking the easy way out.
I don’t carry a fisheye lens. One reason is simply that….I don’t want it to become a crutch. Another reason, is a fisheye is actually a fairly POOR quality lens in the first place. Nothing is sharp, the corners are usually closer to blurry. It’s very easy to get rotational blur on top of that. So when I need a LOT of field of view, I usually just shoot a wide angle lens several times, and stitch them together….I create an image that’s sharper, of higher quality, than I would get with a fisheye.
But……sometimes that’s not an option. And sometimes you just, plain WANT that crazy fisheye effect. So while I don’t typically carry one, I will USE one, from time to time, in just the right situations.
Here are 6 examples.
Above I’m working in a tiny space, and I want to capture the entire work environment. The fisheye effect also serves to make Diane more important.
One time I don’t mind using the fisheye, is when I know the shot and composition will be excellent all by itself. No danger of the fisheye being a crutch here. By getting down low, I’m closer to the “down” leg which exaggerates it for a particularly dramatic effect. I also created opposing arcs with the jet trail and horizon, they effectively frame the subject.
Here I did something very similar, letting the fisheye effect lengthen the dancer’s lines. I played with this composition quite a bit before taking the shot, trying to get the very most from the way the fisheye was going to warp the geometry.
In the above shot, the fisheye does a couple of interesting things. One, it make it seem the point of view is VERY high…I’m actually only about 8 feet above the subject. Also, it allows me to include the hanging branches for framing, and a sense of a “complete scene.” I couldn’t accomplish that with multiple frames and stitching because my subject is moving.
Here’s a similar effect, but in reverse….by getting much closer to the base, the fisheye effect allows me to create the illusion that she’s very high in the air…it’s really just about 12 feet. I think it was important to make this a symmetrical composition, and clipping the bottom of the structure makes it seem massive, and uncontainable.
…and lastly, with a little creativity, you can leverage the warping effect of a fisheye to make someone look right side up and up side down at the same time 😉