Some practical observations on very wide angle, in this case 24mm and 12m. My primary conclusion, it can be lot of fun.
Change of view point
A wide angle splits the image into immediate foreground and everything else. That everything else is simply far and in case of 12mm very very far away. Effectively there is no middle ground. There is what is right in front of your lens and tiny clutter. Consequently even the smallest change in position puts something else in front of the lens and provides us with an entirely new view of the same subject. The upside here is, with a wide angle you can take many pictures of the same object and make it look differently every time. The following images are a demonstration of this effect in the case of Calder’s Flamingo.
Compression and Distortion
Distortion is a unavoidable side effect of very wide angle. I prefer to think of it as a feature rather than a short coming. The wide angle simply offers the possibility to introduce new leading lines. This is particularly amusing when the subject itself has a lot of geometry or lines which are rendered in a distorted way. The examples below show the distortion effect in the case of a stair way inside the Chicago Cultural Center. Here the wide angle captures and compresses so much of the stairway into a small frame that the end result resembles more a spaghetti of stairs .
Distortion in the extreme may alienate a subject to a degree where we perceive the end result more as an abstract than something concrete. For this reason any serious photographer would abstain from using a very wide angle for a portrait. I was asked to take a few photos of Bola a young Nigerian coach, trainer, body builder… What immediately struck me were his anaconda like arms. So I choose to visually separate the rest of the body from the arms by doing a wide angle close up of him with his arms folded.