5 tips for telephoto landscape photography
Landscape photography is, in some ways, synonymous with capturing large scenes with a wide-angle lens, but what about more intimate landscapes? Using a telephoto lens almost exclusively on a recent trip through Colorado, I came up with five tips that might help you try it out for yourself.
It may not be obvious how important a telephoto lens is to landscape photography when you are just starting out. It is very reasonable that the first lens you will be drawn to when immersing yourself in landscape photography should be a wide angle lens as it will capture the entire landscape in front of you. I actually have my 70-200mm telephoto lens longer than my wide angle lens, but I never considered it my main lens until recently.
In this article, I’ll briefly go over a few tips I found on my trip that might help you try it out Telephoto lens for themselves.
1. Robust tripod
The first tip is a sturdy tripod. If you’ve taken wide-angle shots and got away with a bit of budget or an inferior tripod, a telephoto lens just won’t cope. Not only does the lens become significantly heavier, but the wider the focal length, the more any small wind or vibration movement becomes visible when a lighter tripod is used.
An example is when you shoot with slower shutter speeds during the golden hour while trying to keep your camera at ISO 100 and an aperture below f / 8, even if you have some kind of image stabilization. If you use a sturdy tripod, you will simply get more successful pictures. Because of this, I’ve personally botched a lot of pictures, and you will really see a difference switching from a lightweight tripod to one with more stability.
2. Timer or trigger
The next tip seems to come up in almost every series of tips I do, but using a trigger or trigger cable is mandatory. If your shutter speed is really slow, i.e. a little slower than 1/4 s while you also zoom in, then you probably need a 5 or 10 second timer if you don’t have a trigger. This will help reduce the vibration caused by your hands on the camera while you are taking the photo. Sometimes it’s a good idea to take the same photo twice to make sure the shot doesn’t vibrate. When capturing a panorama, be patient between shots, which I talk about quite a bit in my article on capturing a panorama.
Another bonus tip is to make sure nothing is hanging or dangling from your camera. I have never attached a camera strap to my camera, which in my opinion is not the norm. If you have a camera strap that you can’t remove, make sure you clip it somewhere on the camera or look for a strap that is easily detachable. If you use a shutter release, the same applies: don’t just leave it hanging on the camera. Any wind that has something hanging from your camera will cause micro-movements and will be absolutely noticeable in your last shots.
Polarizers are great for all types of landscape photography, no matter what lens you use. When it comes to using telephoto compositions, you will often find yourself far from your compositions, which means you will encounter haze in your shots, and a polarizer is one of the best ways to remove some of that haze from yours Picture.
I wrote an in-depth article on how to use a polarizer here. Keep in mind that it mainly focuses on wider shots, but still applies when a telephoto lens is used. If you want a recommendation for a polarizing filter, I highly recommend this magnetic It’s easy to switch between lenses when you’re in a hurry. I also wrote a full article on magnetic filters here if you are interested in even more information on it.
4. Review the critical focus
Next, you should review your critical focus. You should do this for every shot you take, but it’s especially important for telephoto because the focal plane is much smaller than you’re used to from a wide angle lens. To do this, after using autofocus, all you have to do is zoom in on your camera’s live view with the magnification button, set your lens or camera to manual focus, and then move your focus ring back and forth slightly until the scene looks sharpest on live view.
Often times, the autofocus will do a fine job with this, but it will depend somewhat on your camera and the quality of your lens. I have to admit that I don’t do this as often as I should and rely heavily on autofocus, but in practice and when I have time, I try to follow this rule as best I can.
5. Just shoot
The last tip I have for you is not to worry about the tips I just told you. Have fun taking photos with a telephoto lens, remove the camera from the tripod when you have a lot of light, and don’t worry too much about everything I mentioned above. The lens I keep on my camera when I’m just driving down the street often has a longer focal length, and it’s fantastic to just jump out of the car and take some pictures.
Remember, trying to capture those beautiful moments just before sunset or right after sunrise, you won’t have this luxury, but you can get away with holding hands for most of the day. Remember, have fun and don’t get stuck on one setup every time you want to take a photo.
As I photograph more and more intimate landscapes with a telephoto lens, I realized how versatile longer focal lengths can be. The ability to capture landscapes from a distance mixed with almost macro-like shots of things you might find along the road can completely transform your perspective and the way you capture your surroundings. The ability to camp on a ridge surrounded by changing light and record many different compositions is not possible with a wider lens.
When you’re standing by the fence or even thinking about your first landscape lens, don’t go for a wide angle just because it captures everything in front of you. Find out what you like to take and what kind of photos you want to take. This should help you decide what you need. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope these tips have been helpful for your trip. As always, thanks for reading and hope for more great tips in the comments below!