Shooting Landscape Images With a Telephoto Lens

When you think of landscape photography, you likely think of wide angle lenses that capture large swaths of a scene; after all, those are the most common tools of the trade. However, this great video makes a case for why you might want to consider a longer lens the next time you head out to take some landscape shots.

Coming to you from Nigel Danson, this helpful video examines why a telephoto zoom is a great tool to carry in your backpack. As Danson points out, while a wide angle lens is normally the choice for such scenery, they require you to of course be closer to your subject, which in turn requires more physical movement than you might have time or capability for. On the other hand, a 70-200mm lens can allow you to pick off subjects without straying far from the trail, and it can also add some compression should you wish to use that to your advantage. Of course, it's not a replacement for a wide angle lens for many reasons, but if you want something that makes framing up subjects from afar a bit easier, it's a lens you might want to consider throwing in your bag.

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16 Comments

Not to be rude but, your text has to be the worst explanation for using a long lens for landscapes, I've ever read. That's not to say it was horrible. Maybe I should say, the least good explanation I've ever read. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I didn't watch the video. I was commenting on Alex's description of the reasons to use a telephoto lens for landscapes. Compression and isolation are the main reasons while getting closer to an area are relatively minor. For most serious landscape photographers, the angle of view is the critical criteria. I shoot landscapes from 14mm all the way to 600mm and almost always due to the angle of view and not for convenience.

Alex Cooke's picture

Pst. Maybe watch the video. As Bob mentioned, I was summarizing what you were about to view, thus the reason my text took that angle. Your reasons for shooting with a telephoto may not be everyone else’s.

People do all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons. Some are good reasons others aren't. They can do whatever they like but it will reflect in the results. :-/

Edit: Still not going to watch the video but I did reference the other post about using telephotos for landscape and understand why you wrote what you did. Without the context of the other posting, though, it still gives a balance of reasons that few serious landscape photographers share. I know that sounds arrogant but it's not intended to be. :-/

Alex Cooke's picture

His results are great (how can you imply they’re not when you haven’t seen them?), and if you won’t watch the video this article is about before commenting on it, there isn’t much to discuss anyway. Sorry.

I was commenting on your description of the reasons to use a telephoto lens for landscape photography. Nothing else. As for his photos, I would be very surprised to find out his only rationale for using such a lens was convenience. Certainly, it can be convenient and there are times when you need to do that but it is rarely the primary reason, as described in your text. Landscape photography is rarely convenient.
You're making much more of my comments than was intended. There was no hidden message or intimation.

Alex Cooke's picture

I didn’t say there was a hidden message. If you call my writing the worst explanation of something you’ve seen when you haven’t even taken the time to watch the video it’s based on to understand why I said it or see the results and your only explanation is that you have different shooting preferences, you can expect me to defend myself.

You can't seem to accept my explanation for what I wrote and I'm not going to watch a video about a concept I'm not interested in so I can only hope we have a better interaction next time. :-|

I'm tired. (´~`)

My main problem is this sentence: "As Danson points out, while a wide angle lens is normally the choice for such scenery, they require you to of course be closer to your subject."

Getting closer to, or further away from, your subject should be a choice you make based on a desired perspective. If your intended shot is best served with a wide angle lens, shooting it from further away will give you an entirely different shot. It just will.

If, however, you want convenience, and there's nothing wrong with convenience, you're really just taking "cool" shots to share with your "besties" on facebook or, google "cool landscape photo that I can share with my besties on FB"!

I shouldn't have to explain this on a photography site! >:P

:-)

When photographing wildlife or bugs or stars, the ability to shoot a distant object is paramount for very practical reasons. When photographing people or architecture or landscapes, angle of view and position, to achieve a certain perspective, are everything. That does not in any way mandate a particular focal length or range of focal lengths for all situations but, rather, a particular focal length, along with positioning for a particular shot.
From what Alex says, the video discusses convenience as a reason to use longer lenses. If it's more convenient, fine. That is NOT the PRIMARY reason to choose any lens.
Why is this so difficult to understand?

Alex Cooke's picture

It’s not. That was never in question. Again, if you’d watch the video, his point is that sometimes, you just want to relax and take some nice pictures without going to extreme lengths to do so, aka when a longer zoom -something convenient- is nice to have. That’s it. We all understand the optical argument re: perspective; that’s not in question here. You choose to prioritize a shot by desired perspective; he chose (in this case) to also consider the balance of convenience. If you think a photographer should never allow convenience to influence their decision-making, that’s a different discussion. And no, I’m not going to accept someone saying something so brash about my writing with no real objective reasons or even desire to understand why I said it. I’m sorry, but I find that rather rude.

"...the least good explanation I've ever read." Yep. That was rude all right. :-/

Alex Cooke's picture

Nah, that other video was focused more on the photographic advantages, whereas this one focuses on the convenience. You should post your shots!

Alex Cooke's picture

I really like the flowers in the foreground; they balance the lines across the top half nicely. Where is this?

Alex Cooke's picture

Ah, I figured it was somewhere in Europe. I know what you mean about the colors; I love my Velvia, but occasionally, it can be a little over the top in the wrong sort of way depending on the subject.