The above Image of Maa Nandadevi was shot at an effective focal length of 640mm, there was a small cloud forming over the peak and I wanted that cloud significantly in the frame, can you imagine capturing that with a wide angle lens!!!!

The above Image of Maa Nandadevi was shot at an effective focal length of 640mm, there was a small cloud forming over the peak and I wanted that cloud significantly in the frame, can you imagine capturing that with a wide angle lens!!!!

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.

The shot on the left is taken at an effective focal length of 59mm (not a wide angle shot), but 5 minutes later when the sun begin to rise, I switched to my 100mm(effectively 160mm) to catch that first morning light on the peak of Chaukhamba 1.

The shot on the left is taken at an effective focal length of 59 mm (not a wide angle shot), but 5 minutes later when the sun begin to rise, I switched to my 100 mm(effectively 160 mm) to catch that first morning light on the peak of Chaukhamba 1.

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 my personal favourites till date was taken with my 100mm (160mm Equivalent)

One of my personal favorites till date was taken with my 100 mm (160 mm Equivalent)

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.

There was this heavenly blanket of cloud all over, I was interested in this particular composition, zooming to 35 mm (56 mm on my crop body), I was able to make this interesting shot.

There was this heavenly blanket of cloud all over, I was interested in this particular composition, zooming to 35 mm (56 mm on my crop body), I was able to make this interesting shot.

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.

The above shot of the Mighty Janhukut was taken one chilly morning at an effective focal length of 640mm. The Ariel distance from here to there must be around 45Kms or so and this frame was only possible using my super telephoto lens on a tripod.

The above shot of the Mighty Janhukut was taken one chilly morning at an effective focal length of 640 mm. The Ariel distance from here to there must be around 45 Kms or so and this frame was only possible using my super telephoto lens on a tripod.

Aperture settings:

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!!!!

 

To summarise

  • 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!!!!

 


6 Comments


Himalayan Wanderer Reply January 5, 2016

Great choice of topic for Mountain lovers who enjoy close views and enjoy shooting them. Do review a blog on VFM Zoom lens for Nikon and Canon. I find my 300 MM insufficient for the task. How would you rate NIKKOR 500 MM for taking on a Himalayan expedition?

praveen January 5, 2016

Hi Thank you, really appreciate the time taken to study the blog thoroughly, Well to start with, if one’s objective is only to shoot glorious portraits of the Majestic Himalayan Peaks, 300mm on a crop sensor body would be equivalent to 450mm and 480mm for Nikon and Canon respectively. That, depending upon the Arial distance from the peak, would be insufficient to fill the frame (unless one goes deep in the Himalayas), but our camera sensors have grown tremendously and i believe with cropping and retouching, one should still have a decent Image. On a full frame body, 300mm would be understandably insufficient, but full frame bodies have bettor sensors and good noise performance, and again cropping a good amount and retouching can solve the problem here. As for the 500MM f/4, it weighs close to 4Kgs, and trekking with that lens for an extended period of time in the Himalayas would be, per me very demanding, physically and mentally. The Image quality it will produce will be amazing in all respects, but with the weight and the size of the lens, i personally would be very skeptical about carrying such a heavy(and expensive :-) ) lens to such travels. Please feel free to comment, if your doubt was not cleared.

Sandeep Singh Marwah Reply July 27, 2016

Very informative and good article with beautiful shots.

praveen July 30, 2016

Thank you so much.

5 Reasons to love the Canon 400mm f/5.6L | Creative Praveen Reply February 4, 2017

[…] If you think Landscapes can only be taken using a wide-angle lens, think again. One can make beautiful intimate portraits of mountain peaks using a Telephoto lens. I use this lens quite often to shoot Himalayan peaks during sunrise and sunset. The details and colors resolved by this lens, even when shooting from 10’s of kilometers away is stunning to say the least. You can check out my blog titled Shooting Landscape with telephoto here […]

Telephoto-Adding magic to Landscapes | Creative Praveen Reply August 10, 2017

[…] I had previously written a blog on the same topic, same can be accessed here. […]


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