How To Use Telephoto lens For Shooting Landscape Photography
October 17, 2019

The wide shots of majestic landscapes enthrall us with all their might. The beauty of such shots pushes us into believing that wide-angle lenses are all we need to shoot such grandeur. It is true that wide-angle lenses are mostly used for landscape photography and the reason is obvious. The wider the lens, the more of the scenery you can include in your frame. But is landscape photography limited to wide-angle lenses only?


Before you answer this question, think about what photography actually is. It is a form of creative art, something that has no boundaries, no limitations. Hence the answer to that question is negative. Landscape photography is not limited to wide-angle lenses. You can shoot landscapes with telephoto lenses too. I was out on a birding trip to Bhigwan, a small birding paradise in Maharashtra, India. 


I was carrying a crop sensor body with the Tamron 150-600mm lens since the reach of the lens proves to be very useful for bird photography. Now, what if you come across a beautiful landscape in such a situation. Will you try to get the best out of whatever you have or will you ignore the landscape and continue to look for birds only?


I shot landscapes at 600mm also. So have a number of professional photographers. 

Although wide-angle lenses are more suited for landscapes, there are quite a few advantages while shooting nature with telephoto lenses.


Here Is How You Can Use A Telephoto Lens For Landscapes





1) A Different Perspective:

A wide angle lens has a very broad angle of view. This lens actually tends to increase the distance between the near and far objects and in doing so, increases the differences in size too. The nearby objects appear much larger in comparison to the objects far away. 


On the contrary, a telephoto lens provides a zoomed in perspective, a very narrow angle of view. Hence it compresses the image by reducing the distance between the foreground and background. In the process, the difference in size is also not exaggerated unlike in the case of a wide angle lens. This difference in perspective is also quite enjoyable and makes for stunning images. 


2) Clearing The Clutter!

When you are shooting with a wide angle lens, there are high chances that you may unintentionally include a lot of unwanted objects in your frame. While that is definitely your fault as you need to check your images after shooting, using a telephoto lens can reduce the clutter to some extent. 


Look forward to introducing patterns and leading lines. However, remember that telephoto images compress the background of the images by reducing the distance in the image. 


Hence in flat lighting conditions, the images may turn out to be quite unattractive. Take note of the environmental lighting conditions while shooting landscape with a telephoto lens.


3) The Environmental Conditions:

While a wide angle lens has the ability to capture the entire scenery, the telephoto lens can help you focus on a particular portion of the grandeur. There may be a lot of drama in the sky as compared to the land below. 


While shooting with a wide angle lens, you will have to include both the sky and land, but if you just want to focus on that particular dramatic spot in the sky, a telephoto lens will definitely come in very handy.


4) Stability:

Wide angle lenses are often quite light as compared to other zoom lenses. As a result the tripod that stabilizes your wide angle lens may not be sturdy enough to support your long telephoto lenses too. 


Telephoto lenses are quite bulky and weighs much more than wide-angle lenses. Hence they are more prone to image shakes. You may use a sandbag and hang it from the middle leg of your tripod. In windy conditions though, even this might not work sometimes. 

In such a case you have the option of blocking the wind from directly smashing against your gear. Either you place yourself in the middle or find a suitable object.


5) Being Selective:

Shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens has another advantage. You can be very selective about what you are shooting. I was on a photographic trip to a forest landscape once. I was shooting with a wide angle lens (16-35 mm). Observing the landscape closely I found out that there was a particular bunch of trees of the same pattern. They looked quite unique. 


However, it was not possible to shoot that particular scene with that lens. I had to switch over to a 150-600 mm lens in order to get selective. With the greater reach, I was able to easily shoot the unique details of the bunch of trees. The image had a completely different perspective from the entire set of landscape shots that I had been shooting all along.





6)The aperture:

Depth of field is dependent on the following factors:


  1. The aperture or f number: The lower the f number the shallower the depth of field.
  2. The focal length: The greater the focal length of the lens, the shallower the depth of field.
  3. The distance between the camera sensor and the subject: The lesser the distance between the camera sensor and your subject, the shallower the depth of field.


Now that you have switched over to a telephoto lens, you need to remember that the focal length you are using is significantly higher than what you were using while shooting with a wide angle lens. 


Hence the depth of field has become shallow. You may look to compensate for this by using a greater f number, like f/11 or f/16. This will help you get the entire landscape in sharp focus.






Arriving at a conclusion, it is safe to say that there are no rules in photography. There is a lot of scope for experimentation. Shoot landscapes with all lenses that you have. Explore the advantages and disadvantages of each and find out for yourself what suits you the most!

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