Ever since I began photographing I have been drawn towards the use of wide angle lenses. In fact, it wasn’t until several years after picking up my first camera that I purchased a telezoom: a 70-200mm. At the same time, I slowly started to make big changes to my photographic vision; it turned out that adding this lens in my backpack would make me look differently on the landscape in front of me.
Perhaps you’re in a similar situation as I was and you’re currently holding on to your wide-angle lens as if your life was depending on it. Hopefully, these 5 reasons why a telezoom will improve your landscape photography might intrigue you to invest in one yourself.
1. Learn to See Beyond the Grand Landscape
It’s easy to forget that the grand landscape is filled with small details. Still, it’s the combination of all these details that build the landscape.
Capturing the grand landscapes with the use of a wide-angle lens gives the viewer a feeling of being present in the landscape but zooming in on the smaller details introduces us to a whole new world and gives us an entirely new perspective of our surroundings.
Let’s do a quick experiment. It will only take five seconds but it might change your perspective forever:
Look around and find something to rest your eyes on. This could be anything. Place your fist in the shape of a binocular in front of your right eye and continue looking at the same subject.
Do you still see the same as you did two seconds ago? I doubt it. This is the same in landscapes too. Yes, the grand landscape is beautiful but there are many other elements that look just as majestic by themselves.
Sarah Marino’s Beyond the Grand Landscapes: A Guide to Photographing Nature’s Smaller Scenes is one of my absolute favorite eBooks and goes in-depth on this subject. It has thought me to be more aware of my surroundings and pay more attention to the smaller scenes.
2. Compose Your Images More Wisely
Using a telezoom hasn’t only forced me to be more aware of my surroundings but to also spend more time working on the composition. Since we are eliminating so many elements from the image it’s even more important that the composition is well carried out.
In fact, it’s not only when I use a telezoom that I’ve become more aware of my composition, I also spend more time fine-tuning it when I’m photographing with my other lenses.
With wide-angle lenses, you can often catch eye-catching images without spending much time considering the composition. As long as you’ve got a somewhat good light and have a decent subject, you’ve got an image that many will like.
This is not the case with a telezoom. Zooming in on a landscape means that you crop out most of the surroundings and focus only on a small part of the scene. This will force you to pay more attention to what is included in the frame; is that tree taking too much focus? Should I include a little more of the sky? Is the focal point obvious?
These are important questions to ask as you depend on having a good composition to make such an image eye-catching.
3. Spend More Time Analysing the Scene
In many ways, this relates to the last two reasons. Since we only photograph a small selection of the scenery around us, it’s important to spend more time analyzing the surroundings.
It’s rare that the “point and shoot” approach works well with this type of photography; you first need to locate interesting characteristics about the landscape then you can explore it through the zoom.
Slowing down and spending more time analyzing my surroundings hasn’t only had an influence on my photography but also my life in general.
We’re so used to everything happening quickly or need to be finished as soon as possible. It’s easy to bring this way of thinking out with us in the field and we forget to take the time to experience and enjoy a location.
4. Achieve New Perspectives With a Telezoom
Another advantage of using a telezoom is that you’re able to capture different perspectives than with a wide angle. Not only does this mean that you can photograph a subject without risking your life climbing down a cliff, it also means that you’re able to change your focus directly to the subject instead of just having it as a part of the image.
This means that you can make a small element into the main part of your image. Such as the image below: the contrast between shadow and light was only visible on a small spot in the mountain and with a wide-angle, it wouldn’t have any impact. I was able to make this the main focus of the image by using my Fuji X-T2 and Fujinon 100-400mm at 400mm. I also felt it told a better story than the grand vista.
5. Take Advantage of Natural Framing
The fifth and final reason to use a telezoom in landscape photography is the endless opportunities to take advantage of natural framing. Flowers, bushes, trees, clouds, mountains, people; all can be used as frames for your main subject.
By using a shallow aperture you’re able to blur out the foreground frame en enhance the main subject. This is an excellent compositional technique used to lead the viewer’s eye towards your subject and removes unwanted, distracting, elements from the frame.
These type of natural frames can be found everywhere and using one is a good way to instantly add depth into the image.
What is your favorite lens for landscape photography? Do you ever use a telezoom?