Yellowstone, Wyoming

Landscape Photography with a Long Lens

When we think about landscape photography, we naturally think about wide angle lenses or perhaps a macro lens. Long lenses are typically used for wildlife photography… or at least that’s the general impression. And rightfully so. Most photographers seldom pull out a long lens when trying to capture a landscape photo.

Before we get into details on how to go about capturing photos with your long lens, I should qualify that I am talking about a lens of 70mm and above. Over the years, we’ve found that a long lens can work beautifully to capture some stunning landscape shots. Here are few tips to help you capture impactful photos using that long lens.

Distant Point of Interest

In the Spotlight - Jay Patel

There are times when the point of interest is so far away that a wide angle lens may render it very small in the final image. I love to use long lens in these situation to fill the frame with the point of interest. I used a long lens to capture the photo (above) of Yellowstone Falls. My objective here was to capture the fantastic patterns in the back-lit mist that I could see from Artist Point. One may argue that I could have captured a similar shot with a wide angle lens by moving closer to the falls. However, the back-lit mist conditions were short-lived because they depended on the position of the sun and the clouds. There was no guarantee that those conditions would exist by the time I made my way closer to the falls; and I was able to capture this stunning shot with my long lens.

Capturing Sunrises and Sunsets

Blinded by the Light, Everglades National Park, Florida

One of the advantages of capturing sunrise images with a long lens is that, because the dynamic range is often very narrow, the sunlit area does not need blending. You only have to worry about dynamic range when you have a foreground object in the photo. To overcome the problem of complicated HDR (high dynamic range), photographers often use a strong form (such as a tree, giraffe, or person) when photographing sunrises or sunsets with a long lens. In the photo above, Varina used a long lens to capture this gorgeous sunrise in Everglades National Park.

Photographing the Moon

IMG_3034.tif

When shot with a wide-angle lens, the moon often appears to be very small. If you want the moon to be a significant part of the image, you should use a long lens to capture both foreground and moon. If you have trouble balancing the exposure between the foreground object and the moon, you can use Photoshop for post-processing. Here is an image from Death Valley where both the moon and the foreground were captured with a long lens using a single exposure.

Photographing Insects, Details and Abstracts

IMG_5980.tif

Focal Lengtht: 155mm

You don’t always need a macro lens to capture detailed shots. If your subject matter is big enough, a long lens may allow to capture it. A fast-focusing long lens also has an advantage if the subject requires quick focus. Here is a shot taken in Death Valley where I used the Canon 70-200 F4L to capture the fantastic details in the drying mud.

Next time you are out and about trying to capture that great landscape photo, consider pulling out that under-utilized long lens collecting dust in your camera bag.

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.

Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams

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1 reply
  1. Richard
    Richard says:

    Good basic article on using longer lenses for landscapes and welcomed. So many assume you need 35/28/24 wides and then have trouble filling in the foregrounds in an interesting way for landscapes. While I sometimes wil use longer tele’s I often favor short-tele lenses like 75-90mm (in 35mm camera terms or the like). One fav is my 150 Sonnar on my Hasselblad, sort of 75mm or so focal length in 35 mm terms. Some examples:

    https://flic.kr/p/NwtBQ

    https://flic.kr/p/4nnbcD

    https://flic.kr/p/3qUD5g

    Reply

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