Landscape Photography Challenge for the New Year: Shoot Just Using a Telephoto Lens

A few months ago, Thomas Heaton suggested that it was “time to break out the long lenses” as a means of escaping the crowds when it comes to landscape photography.  In this short video, photographer Chris Sale sets himself a challenge and takes his 70-200mm f/4 lens for a walk through the English hills.

The staple of most landscape photographers is a chunky wide angle lens that often allows you to create leading lines, perhaps through the foreground, and to put together balanced compositions using the space that the lens offers. If you’re in a creative rut when it comes to your landscape work or fancy giving yourself a proper challenge, try leaving the 14mm at home and see what you can produce using a telephoto lens.

The compression offered by longer lenses presents the opportunity to bring distant subjects much closer, isolate certain elements, and give a greater focus on small details. The first two often work hand in hand, and, as Chris discovers, capturing detail can mean ignoring the broader landscape and picking out individual textures.

Equally important in this video is the idea of heading out when conditions are far from ideal in order to practice. There are lessons to be learned even when you’re not creating your best images, not to mention the fact that the weather in the hills and mountains can often take you by surprise, regardless of the forecast.

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Kyle Medina's picture

Mines actually the 24mm STM lens. I carry too many lenses and get mental confusion. Use this, use that aahh.

Chris Eiel's picture

I thought this was an excellent tutorial. I use a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 for motor sports photography and have not considered it as a landscape tool. Thanks for broadening my horizons. Will be out soon and will experiment to my heart’s content.

Tony Tumminello's picture

I'd need the opposite challenge: shoot landscapes with a wide-angle lens.

Telephoto lenses are the backbone of my landscape photography already, my EF 300mm f4L IS, EF 70-200mm f4L IS, and Oly 40-140mm f2.8 are easily some of my most-used for that genre.

Simon Patterson's picture

It's a good idea. I found myself increasingly using the 150-600 for landscape photography last year.

Joey Snburg's picture

When I went to Alaska a few years ago I used my 70-200 with a 2x iii extender with excellent results! I think you would have had a much better composition with the rocks rather than the tree!!!!

I love to take photos of trees. Everything about them. Your video was informative and gave me some ideas. Cannot wait to see further videos.

Rob Watts's picture

I always pack my 100-400 II when I'm out shooting landscapes. You just never know when you might need the reach or want the tighter composition. I shot with it heavily yesterday up in the snowy mountains.Yeah, it's heavy, but I'd rather eat the weight on short walks/hikes than say "dammit, why didn't I bring the long lens?!"

Bill Wells's picture

Excellent read! With good information.

Don Risi's picture

I do it all the time. I've never been afraid to turn that long lens (400mm or longer) that I use for wildlife to a landscape shot. Creates some interesting perspective.