03 Jun

Cinquecento is a Diptych captured while vacationing in Italy last year with my family. While on a tour of the Umbrian countryside we stopped for a couple of days in the town of Montecastello di Vibio, a delightful old village in the region of Umbria.

I had recently acquired a Canon EF 8-15/4 L Fisheye zoom, and Montecastello, with its narrow cobblestone roads and stone buildings seemed a great place to look for interesting perspectives that could be captured in a fish-eye projection…

Canon EF 8-15/4 L

Canon EF 8-15/4 L

This lens is a very interesting fish-eye, especially when used on a full frame camera. At 14 mm and above it acts like a traditional full frame fish-eye, with a diagonal FoV of approximately 180 degrees. At 8 mm it becomes a full circular fisheye, providing a 180 degree circular image and a very unique, distorted perspective that begs to be put to creative use. In particular, it differs from a rectilinear super wide in the fact that only radial lines passing through the center of the lens remain straight, and all other straight lines become segments of circles of increasing curvature as they are farther away from the image center. This makes it so that subjects composed primarily of curved lines and placed in the center of the image and near the lens are rendered in a very pleasant, exaggerated distortion. Straight lines, on the other hand, are very visibly altered, but that too can be used for a composition advantage.

The perfect subject was waiting for me just around the corner!

Fiat 500, the original!

Fiat 500, the original!

An original Fiat 500 (probably older than I) in perfectly restored conditions was parked in one of the narrow alleys. There was barely room for a person to walk by on either side, and the small car was dwarfed by the stone buildings on either side of it.

I took this capture hand held, with the camera held at the hood level, and slightly pointing upward. The front of the lens was no more than 2 feet away from the nose of the car. The framing was chosen to create a contrast between the straight lines of the pavement, converging to the imaginary center of the image, and the curved verticals arching towards the top of the frame.

The capture worked, and I am quite pleased with it. It would have been a fun stand alone picture, but as I started walking around the car I noticed that the windows and the moon roof were open, presenting me with an irresistible opportunity…

Fiat 500, interior

Fiat 500, interior

I quickly shoved my camera through the driver’s window, pointed it towards the front holding it approximately where the head of the driver would had been and captured an image in the blind. The image is not flawless – you can see the reflection of my shirt and a piece of my gear in the side view mirror, and the sky is blown out – but the effect is to provide the impression of sitting at the wheel!

When the two images are framed side-by-side, or used for the front and back cover of a photo book, they effectively present a 360 degree panoramic view of the scene, from the inside and the outside!

The EF 8-15/4 L is definitely a specialized lens, but the creative potential is huge! It is sometimes a little difficult to pre-visualize the results, but with a little trial and error it opens up completely unique perspective, and fun ways to approach composition!

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