Long Lens Landscapes
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
The landscape photographers natural first choice is the wide angle lens and with good reason, they can capture beautiful sweeping vistas with big skies, and a wide range of interest, But are you missing out ?
After many years of shooting almost exclusively seascapes and coastal photography I had a bit of a life changing event, I got a puppy who just happens to be my absolute world.
He goes everywhere with me but an awful lot of the venues I photograph are quite dangerous, high cliffs, very angry seas and a lot of hidden dangers of which I'm pretty wise too now.
My puppy however is not, he's super excitable and wants to go everywhere at 100 miles per hour and get into as much mischief as possible !
Put this together with dangerous locations and it's a recipe for disaster and even if I have him on a lead I just wouldn't risk taking him to these places.
I was left with a choice, leave him at home and go and enjoy my photography or change where I shoot and take him with me, puppy eyes gave me the answer to that one !
So being a responsible dog owner and understanding I had made a commitment to put him first my photography had to change so I started shooting inland so he could come with me on every trip.
It quickly became apparent that my normal approach of shooting with my 16-35mm lens just wasn't working well for me inland, I mean I was getting some reasonable shots but I felt I was missing more than I should.
The trusty 70-200mm lens was quickly retrieved from the bag and a whole new world was before me.
The landscapes were quickly becoming far more interesting as I was focusing on individual areas and pulling out detail and I was buzzing, it had opened up a whole new world to me and I was really excited about my photography for the first time in a good while.
Inland landscapes really make you work hard for it, I wouldn't say good seascapes are easier to shoot but they do seem to lend themselves far more to the composition and with water movement there is always interest right in front of you.
Inland shots don't give you the same luxuries and you really have to pick out details well in order to finish up with something special.
Long focal lengths were enabling me to do this with a much better frequency than the wide angle lenses.
The main advantage to the long lens was that I was able to really focus on a range of items within the scene and really draw the eye to where I wanted it and compress the view itself into a far more pleasing scene, with the wide angle I was simply losing the detail.
Dorset Light, 111 mm F16, ISO 50
I was able to get back to the real roots of photography, light. It might sound like a daft thing to say but its all to easy to go to a nice coastal location and get a nice sunset sky and get a few good images but these scenes don't really make use of the light as by the time the sun has set there isn't any, pretty colours yes but good light, not so much.
I started with the 70-200 mm F4 lens that I had neglected for many years and quickly decided to get the 2x extender from Canon to give the same lens a new focal length of 140 mm - 400 mm and again this really helped me to pick out good details especially when light spots were moving across the scene in front of me, something that would have been far less dramatic at 16 mm.
I did a week of shooting in Snowdonia and I knew it would be very different from the landscapes I had been shooting in Dorset but I was prepared for it with the long lens and a good 60% of shots I took that week were with the long glass and I was very happy with the results.