A new perspective

April 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Fisheye lenses are fun.  Serious fun.  More fun than you can shake a stick at!  

It's a lens I've dreamt of owning but probably would never have bought.  Apparently, however, sixtieth birthdays are as rare as fisheye lenses and in my case, thanks to my family, they coincided.  So Monday 15th April 2013 was serious fisheye fun.

It's not the lens for portraiture, unless you want to make crazy caricatures.  But in landscape photography it adds something very different.  

Fisheye lenses have a really wide field of view.  They pack a lot in.  I've walked around Portstewart Harbour many times but I have never seen it like this.

At the same time fisheye lenses have a very short minimum focussing distance which enables the camera to go extremely close, keep everything in focus and get a huge amount in - as this photo of the lobster pots in Portstewart harbour illustrates.

I took this with the lens only a few inches away from the pots.  I had to in order to get the shot for the gap between them and the edge of the harbour was very narrow.

Of course the fisheye has other effects which are clear in this shot: the characteristic curve top and bottom of the picture together with the distorted perspective which makes the pots at the edges seem much further away than those in the centre.  So for those looking for realism, this isn't the lens for them.  But what a great way to isolate and focus on a particular object!  In this case the subject of the photograph is unmistakeable: it is up close and personal.  And by viewing it in this (distorted) perspective, we see it differently.  The textures, the colours, the knots, the relationship between the individual parts.

For me this is one of the key features.  

Between the row of shops and the harbour stands the Fishing Boat, a bronze sculpture by Niall O'Neill, unveiled in 1996 that commemorates the songwriter Jimmy Kennedy (author of "Red sails in the sunset" who spent much of his early life in Portstewart.  In an earlier blog on 'rust' I used a telephoto lens to isolate a small area of the bronze.  I have also tried other ways of capturing the sculpture.  Unfortunately it is surrounded by a certain amount of clutter - necessary, I suppose (safety railing, benches, litter bins) but still clutter.  How to make the sculpture really stand out?  This is what a fisheye can do.

Next time I might try a lower angle.  But it certainly stands out!


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