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Never able to sit still, I'm always on the go. With a camera at my side, I'm always seeking out a new adventure, experiencing a new place, living in a different culture, or meeting someone new.  My wanderlust has brought me to the far corners of the earth and I still have a lot of ground to cover.  

Using a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography

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Using a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photography

Chris Ford

It's not always easy to capture an expansive landscape in one image.  A wide angle lens won't always portray a scene like your eyes see it*.  One solution is to use a telephoto lens (a lens greater than 70mm) to more creatively portray landscapes. 

There are two easy ways to capture a landscape well with a telephoto lens.  One, is to find an element of perspective in your shot.  The most obvious example of this is a road or pathway. The other, is to add a subject that gives the rest of the image a sense of scale.  Below are two examples.

Perspective:  

Costillas del Diablo, Tres Cruces, Jujuy

This shot was taken in the Andean Foothills in Northern Argentina.  The landscape is flat with distant hills in the background.  I love using perspective to portray depth in any image.  The road leading your eye back clearly shows the distance in the landscape.  In addition, your eyes can associate the size of other objects in the image because the road is such a common and recognizable subject .  Ultimately, the road gives the entire image a sense of scale.  Without it, it's hard to understand just how big that mountain is in the background.  I also used a shallow depth of field, F2.8 to focus on the road to further draw your eye back into the distance. 

Sense of Scale: 

Before: Very little sense of scale. 

After: The person gives this image a sense of scale.  

Here's another example where I used a subject, in this case a human, to give my audience a sense of scale.  Using my telephoto lens,  I was able to zoom in on the person while still capturing the mountains in the background.  Look at the before and after image.  One clearly conveys a better sense of scale than the other.  

*Why doesn't a wide angle lens always work well with landscapes? Most landscape shots require a wide angle lens to capture the stunning expanse of landscape within your view. But, it's not always easy to capture what your eyes see.  You have to remember your eyes see the world with an equivalent of a 50mm focal distance.  Mountains viewed with 50mm lens are visually much larger and more breathtaking than the same mountains viewed with a 17mm lens. Where you eyes and camera differ is that your eyes have a much larger 'sensor size' than your little camera sensor.  Your eyes are able assemble many 50mm camera shots into one; something a camera just cannot do alone.