Photo of the Day: 12
Today, I want to revisit the fisheye-lens question by sharing an image, where I think it works perfectly.
This picture was taken a few years ago, at the opening night of ArtEmona - a week of charity concerts, exhibitions, performances, workshops, and all sorts of other art events to raise money to rebuild a historical monestary near a village on the Bulgarian coast. Vasko "the Patch" (Кръпката) is a famous bulgarian blues guitarist, who every years instits on performing at the opening concert, and he always finds a way to create a party atmosphere regardless of the generation mix in the crowd. That year, though, the generator broke during Vasko's performence, so he was left in darkness and silence for a moment. But what else could he do, apart from unplug his guitar and start going around the audience, continuing his performence acoustically.
No power outage could crash his party. He just kept going!
This is where I think the fisheye plays a big role. Up until that point I was probably shooting with a telephoto lens, getting the usual pictures of him on stage, but as soon as the electricity cut happened and he jumped off stage, I switched to the fisheye and got real close and personal. That's also very important. You probably can't tell, unless you really look into it, but I'm standing literally just next to the person, sitting at the bottom of the frame. I'm in there with them, and the audience is all around Vasko now, as he's walking between the people, who have all sorts of different reactions, but are generally having a blast. And you can see that in the image, it draws you in, and you feel like you're a part of that moment, surrounded by these people having fun. The distortion is not distracting at all to me, because I value the proximity of this picture much more, and that's why I think it's a perfect example of a very wide (Samyang 8mm f/3.5 manual lens, just for reference), almost 180 degrees field of view, fisheye lens being used properly to convey an emotion.
As I touched upon in the second PotD, the fisheye lens is a speciality tool, and like any other such tool, it should be used only where appropriate, which is to say - sparingly. A lot of the time, people get stuck using a certain technique or a tool too much, because they think that it's interesting just because it's a fisheye shot in this case. But it's really not. It has to be done with purpose.
In the case of my brother's room, I needed the fisheye wide angle to get as much of the chaos of the scene as possible, and the distortion only contributed to that slightly out-of-whack-look.
Long story short - know what you're intending to achieve and anticipate your scene so that you have the right tool (in this case lens) ready to get the shot.