Fishy Windmills


Windmill at Sunset. An old windmill, now converted to lodging, presides over a sunset in the town of Oía, Santorini, Greece.

After last week’s post, I decided that I would do one last Santorini post to highlight the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. The picture above was admittedly the only one in my Santorini gallery images that featured the fisheye. However, there was no other way I could have made this image successful. The fisheye effect here is not strong, although evident in the way that the deck planks curve together and point towards the windmill. I like the gentle distortion here, but the ultra-wide angle also has the benefit of pushing all the buildings in the background further away. In this photograph, I think having them more prominent in the image would just make it look cluttered. As taken, the viewer’s eye traverses the four important areas of the image in sequence: the foreground decking, then the windmill against the sky, then over to the setting sun, then down to the reflection on the sea…which leaves the viewer back at the decking to repeat the counter-clockwise loop around the image. That middle ground of the buildings isn’t very important. Since the horizon is in the middle of the picture, the fisheye does not cause it to curve. A 14mm rectilinear lens is certainly wide, but not nearly as wide as a 15mm fisheye and isn’t wide enough to make an image like this really work. (Unfortunately, because it didn’t work I didn’t take an image with it so I can’t show the comparison. Lesson learned: I should also think about my blog, not just getting the best images, but that is a hard mindset to have.)

Note that in the image above, the leftmost sixth of the image was cropped off to make the 4:5 aspect ratio, so the windmill was on the far right of the full frame. Because of this, the deck boards curve “upwards” towards the center of the image in the manner that they do. In contrast, for the image below (taken in the morning than the evening) the rightmost sixth of the image was cropped off, so the windmill was much closer to the center of the full frame image; because the deck boards converge very close to the center of the full frame, they do not exhibit (much) curvature. In fact, it’s not really evident that it was taken with a fisheye at all. I prefer both the light and the composition in the first image, but the second image works, too. With a fisheye, you have to be mindful of these things, but you can get different effects and those effects can be subtle—not just crazily distorted. Unfortunately, I didn’t really use the fisheye on much other than this one location. I am certain that I missed opportunities. Much like my tilt-shift lenses, I never regret pulling out the fisheye even if it isn’t the lens I reach for first.

Vanishing Point Windmill. Deck boards converge below an old windmill in Oía, Santorini, Greece.

Technical note. Both images in this post were taken with a Nikon Z7 and the AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED. Both images were processed from RAW in Adobe Lightroom Classic; the top image had additional work in Affinity Photo to remove some distractions on the left edge of the frame.

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