I discovered the Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens a few years ago when I was teaching a class in California. I had challenged myself to try something new and I was always curious about Sigma’s Fisheye lens and its effects. I wasn’t quite sure how I could incorporate it into a portrait session, and was pleasantly surprised when I actually photographed with it and loved the illusion of extreme depth. This amazing lens creates a strong visual distortion and a wide panoramic or hemispherical effect. The trick here is understanding straight lines anywhere but dead center in the image appear to be curved. The farther they are from the center, the greater the curved distortion. This first image of Charlie was photographed in the middle of the day in open shade. I asked her to run past me while holding the balloons up in the air. When she reached the lens perspective that I wanted, which put her in the middle of my frame, I could see the building was distorted, but she was not. This was the exact effect I wanted to accomplish. If you look closely at the image, Charlie has no distortion. I set my shutter speed to 1/640 to stop the action and create a sharp image while still capturing the movement in her hair. The building became curved as it was further from the center of my lens.
This next image demonstrates how fun it can be to add a little bit of distortion to your subject. The emphasis here is on Charlie’s face. Because her face is closest to my lens, it appears larger than normal, but not unattractive. Her body appears to get smaller. The overall effect creates an exaggerated depth of field. Normally I would photograph with an open aperture to create softness in the background. For this image I have chosen an aperture of f 8.0 so that her surroundings, including her body, are all in focus. When you look at this image even though the balloons draw your attention, your eye goes immediately to her face. This is a totally different way of photographing for me and yet, I love what happens to the image. The trick in this image is understanding whatever is closest to the lens will appear larger while the background becomes a curved distortion.
Once again using Charlie as my subject, I have turned my lens this time towards the light creating a bit of a flare. The balloons have become a scrim of sorts to shade Charlie’s face and even though she’s not completely in the middle of my frame, she is close enough that she is not distorted and everything else around her is curved. I have chosen not to correct any of the effects of this lens in these images. My tip here is Photoshop will enhance and/or lessen the effects of this lens if you wish. I prefer to keep the effects just as I have created them in my camera. I find the different perspective fun and creative, adding a completely different dimension to my images.
These two images above represent two different lens perspectives, a style choice. While I love the image of Charlie created with Sigma’s 24-105mm F4 DG (OS)* HSM | A, one of my favorite lenses, I also appreciate the creative lines the Fisheye lens gives my image. Both images were photographed with the same settings, in the same location with two completely different results due to the different lenses. I thought it would be fun for you to see the effects and compare the results for yourself.
When you choose to see differently, a whole new world opens up to you and I believe it can make you a better photographer. My tip here is to try a new lens, change your perspective and be more open to photographing differently.
This Fisheye lens when used creatively can capture beautiful images that bend our reality.