A wide or an ultra-wide image of a natural landscape, or/and a man-made object wherein, the foreground, the mid-ground and background are arranged in a particular way and are in sharp focus, which is what we normally conceive of, whenever we think of the word Landscape photography. We sometimes, erroneously also have the notion that shooting landscapes is not possible without a wide or Ultra-wide lens. Well there is no denying the fact that wide angle lenses are absolutely amazing for shooting landscapes, wide and especially ultra-wide angle lenses offer stunning perspectives of nature that our eyes simply cannot see.
That does not however in any way means that one cannot shoot landscapes using Telephoto lenses or using lenses that are not particularly considered “wide”. Medium telephoto lenses and in some cases super telephoto lenses can give us glimpses of nature which we would not be able to appreciate , if the same shot was taken using a wide angle lens ( Heck!!!! One can even take portraits of his/her favorite mountain peaks using super telephoto lenses and they look amazing ).
One of the main advantages of shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens is the isolation one can have in a scene, suppose for example one has a beautiful landscape in front of him, and there is this particular distant patch of the scene that looks absolutely gorgeous, it could be a man-made structure that looks beautiful amidst the nearby surroundings or some section of landscape that has a beautiful golden glow to it or it could be that you are at a location which although has a beautiful view in front, has a lot of distracting foreground elements, shooting in such situations with telephoto lenses could offer unique, different and beautiful perspectives which we otherwise might miss. The list of situations can be endless and there could be a million possibilities of making amazing shots using only telephoto lenses.
One of the main advantages of shooting landscapes with telephoto (apart from making stunning shots 😉 ) is that one is forced to think hard about composing the image and is a good exercise in enhancing the creative vision of the individual. I occasionally, on some days deliberately decide to shoot images only using telephoto lenses (however strong the temptation to use a wide angle may be 😉 ) . Very high resolution and detailed panoramas of your favorite locations can be created by stitching multiple shots taken at long focal lengths, the details of which would be missing when a single shot of the same is taken using a wide angle lens.
My best friend, Tripod:
A good and sturdy tripod is a critically important piece of equipment, which one must have if he/she is serious about shooting tack sharp, professional quality images. I have previously written a detailed blog about the importance of shooting on a Tripod and can be accessed here. Since landscapes are shot mostly during mornings and evenings (sometimes before and after), having a tripod is an absolute must for shooting landscapes on longer focal lengths (Imagine handholding a 200mm at a shutter speed of 1/20 Sec 😉 ). Shooting with a tripod ensures that one will get the intended shot, no matter what the light conditions are. Furthermore, telephoto (especially super telephoto) lenses are highly susceptible even to slight shake of hand and it would be humanly impossible to shoot landscapes handheld at such focal lengths. I personally avoid touching the camera when shooting and almost always use a cable shutter release, or a two second timer (sometimes 10 Seconds) on my camera to make sure there is absolutely no shake. Using a tripod has enabled me to get shots in situations wherein I was freezing and shivering uncontrollably , while my camera was busy shooting.
We conduct a number of landscape and birding photography expeditions in the Himalayas of Uttarakhand, India, wherein this and a lot more techniques and tips are shared. You can find the list of all our upcoming expeditions here.
Since one would be shooting distant subjects most of the times, it allows for a very flexible use of Apertures, I personally play a lot and depending on light and frame, may use different apertures, in most cases I prefer using the sweetest f –stop on my lens, wherein the image is the sharpest, it varies from lens to lens but as a general rule, f8-f11 on most lenses or stopping down your lens by at least 1 stop or more should produce the sharpest results possible.
Next time you are at a location shooting landscape and feel that you have exhausted all the possibilities of a wide angle lens, try switching to telephoto and super telephoto lenses and see the magic unveil before your own eyes, it’s absolutely worth a try!!!!
- Always carry your telephoto lenses, even if you are on an exclusive landscape photography tour
- Buy and carry a high quality and sturdy tripod
- Always use a cable release, or use the timer on your camera
- Shoot at the sweetest f stop of your lens generally between f/8 to f/11
- If it’s windy, protect the camera from shaking by shielding it from wind.
- Think of new compositions using telephoto, at places where you have already shot before.
- Try viewing different part of the landscape through the viewfinder for different compositions.
- Try creating high resolution panoramas of landscapes using multiple shots and stitching them later
- Dress warm for chilly mornings and evenings
- Carry something to eat, one of my favorite photographer says, “You can’t be creative if you are hungry”
- Experiment a lot, we would love to see some of your telephoto shots here.
- And lastly if you like the article please do share and subscribe to the newsletter
Hope this helps!!!!