One of the most challenging aspects of landscape photography is finding a composition that does justice to the beauty we see and experience in the field. In this article, in addition to following professional photographer Mads Peter Iversen into the field for a day of moody telephoto photography, we'll also discuss a few ways that utilizing a long telephoto lens can help you drastically increase your opportunities for finding a compelling composition in nature.
Landscape photographers often shoot with wide angle lenses in order to capture more of the scene and evoke the beauty of the grand landscape. We tend to plan our photo shoots and trips around these potential wide angle compositions, generally speaking. However, when exploring nature, it is often difficult to find a scene that lends itself well to a wide angle composition, merely because the wide angle of view contains so many elements. However, with a telephoto lens, you can zoom in past the distractions and find little scenes within the grander landscape that fill the frame nicely and require less tinkering with the composition.
On moody days like the one in this video, you can also utilize your telephoto lens to isolate interesting weather conditions. There may not be fog enveloping the scene right in front of you, but with a long lens you can search the landscape and find the small patches of fog or interesting patches of light interacting with the landscape. Once you train your eye to notice these "scenes within the scene," you will always want to have your telephoto lens in your bag. Personally, I have kicked myself more than once for leaving behind my telephoto lens when I found myself spotting telephoto compositions all around. In summary, if you don't own one, make it a priority to get one, and if you do own one, make sure you always carry it with you. If you do, you'll find that the landscape contains far more opportunities for compelling images than you might have realized.