• Frank

Landscape Photography with a Telephoto Lens?

As Monty Python once said; “And now for something completely different!”

Robert uses his

500mm f/4.5 with a

1.4X converter to get

that small slice of the


"I have also shot landscapes

with my 800mm lens

and macro with my

150-600mm zoom. The

biggest fun is using lenses

for what most people

would never consider

using them for. :)"

Landscape photography with a long telephoto lens. It’s not new idea, I didn’t come up with it; Barry included it in his early landscape photography classes over 30 years ago (when he was but a wee lad in short pants!) The idea has been around for a while. But perhaps we’ve lost sight a bit of the artistic possibilities in photography with too much of a “this is how it’s supposed to be done” attitude. Making landscape photos with a long lens certainly has the potential to create something completely different!

600mm, f/8, 1/160 sec, ISO 400

The first landscape photos I made with a long lens, a 150-600mm f/5-6.3, were on the Yukon Gold photo tour in 2016. And they came about because I'm lazy. As the group traveled from one location to the next, I’d have my camera with the long lens at my side so I was ready should we encounter wildlife along the road. When we stopped to admire and photograph the stunning vistas, rather than going to the bother of changing the lens, I’d just grab the camera with the long lens and take a few shots. And I was liking what I saw! After those first couple of times, I made it a habit, every time we stopped, to look at our surroundings through that 150-600mm and often make a few photos before I mounted the more usual wider angle landscape lenses.

So, you ask, "why might I want to add my long telephoto lens to my landscape equipment?" Well, let me tell you! And I know you’ll say “I knew that” when I jog your memory.

One (photos 1 and 2 below); Generally, people think a landscape photo has to take in a large chunk of what is in front of you. But perhaps just a slice of that scene makes for the higher impact image. A long telephoto can isolate that slice for you. Don’t forget the other guidelines for a dynamic shot still apply.

1) 24mm, f/16, 1/80 sec, ISO 200

2) 375mm, f/8, 1/160 sec. ISO 400

Two (photos 3 and 4 below); as we all know, a long telephoto lens compresses an image. When you have foreground elements and a background, it creates the illusion that your background is right up against your foreground; the image is compressed front to back. This can be an interesting visual effect in your image. Also, try different apertures; smaller will give you a sharper, more defined background, larger will blur your background. Playing with depth of field is of course possible with shorter focal length lenses as well, but long telephotos, in general, at larger apertures, give you an even shallower depth of field. And that leads to point three...

3) 28mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200

4) 150mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO 400

Note the compressed look of the 3 layers of mountains

Three (photo 5 below); by choosing a larger aperture and selecting a specific point of focus, you can create some interesting effects: focus on the background and the foreground becomes a blur of color, texture and/or tones (And visa versa when you focus on the foreground). Focus on the middle ground and effectively create a frame for it with both the background and foreground blurred.

5) 150mm, f/5, 1/1250 sec, ISO 160

(Thank you Barry)

And finally, point four; because it will be a completely different take on the scene!

182mm, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 200

If you haven’t already done so, next time you’re out in search of wildlife with your super telephoto, aim it into a landscape scene and see what amazing images you can create.

VG Photography Tours will be back in the Yukon in the fall of 2018. With the fall colors in full glow, it’s a great time to practice landscape photography with a telephoto lens. And don’t forget we are there with hands-on guidance and instruction if you so wish it. We are offering two itineraries back to back. Join us for one, the other, or both. Check out the ‘Where We’re Going’ page on the web site.

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