Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2010/01/02

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Subject: [Leica] Wide angle
From: michiel.fokkema at (Michiel Fokkema)
Date: Sat, 02 Jan 2010 23:24:16 +0100
References: <>

I have tried to love the wide angles.
But I don't use my 15 any more.
28 is plenty wide for me. Occasionally a 21 when there really is no 
space. But the strange faces on the side make me try to avoid it.


Michiel Fokkema
Fokkema Fotografie
michiel.fokkema at

Lawrence Zeitlin wrote:
> Mark writes:
> "Things get wider and wider every year.
> The whole mindset of the photographing world.
> The Leica 18 is the new 21.
> And you could be shooting with a 15 or a 12. And plenty do all the time.
> Lots of them are the top people."
> - - - - -
> Why are ultra wide angle lenses becoming so popular?
> In 1966, Edward Hall wrote, in "The Hidden Dimension," that  people space
> themselves at a distance that is appropriate to the degree of relationship
> to the "other." People interact at a greater distance from strangers than
> with friends and at a greater distance from friends than with lovers. There
> are very specific visual cues for each distance. With strangers, the
> distance, usually about two arm's length, does not emphasize small aspects
> of appearance and there is little perspective distortion. Sort of like 
> using
> the often recommended 90 mm lens on a 35 mm camera to shoot portraits. At
> the closer friendship distance, say about one arm's length, there is a
> moderate visual distortion. The nose of a person looking toward you appears
> slightly magnified compared to the ears. Perhaps equivalent to the 50 mm
> lens perspective on your film Leica when shooting portraits. At the 
> intimate
> distance, less than 18 inches, there is considerable visual distortion. The
> nose appears much larger than the ears and the face fills most of the 
> visual
> field. We grow accustomed to these visual effects and often use them to
> gauge the degree of relationship between people from photos.
> A few years ago there was a spate of TV commercials shot at ultra close
> distances for hawking personal use products. I guess the producers read
> Hall's book and concluded that you would believe an intimate friend rather
> than a make believe doctor in a white coat filmed at the formal distance.
> There is a reciprocal aspect to this relationship, often triggered by the
> visual cues. If we are forced into anintimate distance by seating
> accommodations or by crowding, such as close seating in an airplane or at a
> bar, we soon act as if  the relationship was appropriate to the distance.
> Thus we may hear or tell of personal life stories to seat mates or bar
> buddies that would never come up in casual conversation between strangers.
> The tortured mental logic is as follows:
> 1. The visual cues tell me that I am within the intimate distance from this
> stranger.
> 2. I would never get this close to a casual acquaintance therefore he is my
> friend.
> 3. Since we are on intimate terms, I can confide my personal secrets.
> Needless to say, this bond is broken when the plane lands and the distance
> increases.
> In photographic terms ultra wide angle lenses, especially in close ups,
> create the same form of visual distortion as personal spacing at the
> intimate distance. Pictures taken with these lenses have the same sort of
> psychological relevance as sitting close to a stranger.They are attention
> grabbing because of the pseudo intimacy. But ultimately these pictures are
> disturbing because we realize that we are being fooled. Our attention has
> been hijacked, not by the pictorial content, but by the illusion of 
> personal
> relevance. As we become accustomed to the visual trickery the effect
> lessens. That's why the TV commercials lost favor.
> Ultra wide angle lenses depict a travesty of life. Ultimately we will all
> return to sanity and use normal lenses. Even the top people.
> Larry Z
> _______________________________________________
> Leica Users Group.
> See for more information

Replies: Reply from mark at (Mark Rabiner) ([Leica] Wide angle)
In reply to: Message from lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin) ([Leica] Wide angle)