Telephoto Landscapes

Between you and me, my wide angle lens is my favorite lens. I use it for 95% of my landscape shots. But there are that rogue 5% when I use a telephoto lens.  Telephoto landscapes are very different than wide angle landscapes and must be thought out very different. Done right, they can be very interesting, done wrong and they will be flat snapshots. Here is a telephoto landscape image I took with a Nikon D7100 and a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 200mm. And those of you who know me and how I shoot would be shocked to learn I took this image without my trusty tripod!

Nor'easter Waves
Nor’easter Waves

The reason there is a difference in mindset is because of optically how these different lenses work. Due to details we won’t get into, a wide angle lens exaggerates near and far while a telephoto lens compresses near and far. If you look at “Nor’easter Waves” you will see how the horizon doesn’t look very far away from the end of the jetty. A wide angle lens would have made the two look impossibly far apart. Now in this situation the compression is great because there isn’t a lot going on between the end of the jetty and the horizon line, just a lot of open water. This would have made for a very boring picture with dead space for miles between the jetty and the horizon.

Another difference is depth of field. I focused on the tower at the end of the jetty which was approximately 300 feet away. Plugging my numbers into a handy dandy depth of field calculator I come away with a near focus at 240 feet and a far focus at 400 feet. Meaning the tower and 60 feet in front of it were in focus. Great for the rocks making up the jetty and the waves crashing over them, perfect focus. The focus zone extended 100 feet beyond the tower, meaningless because it was open ocean. Beyond that things get ever increasingly out of focus but that is fine, I ended up with one out of focus wave and an out of focus buoy. There would have been quite the struggle to get the close up wave breaking over the jetty in focus along with the tower if using a wide angle lens. They simply were too far apart. And the wide angle lens would have made them seem even farther apart, again a dead zone.

Yes, there is a lot that goes into making a picture, seeing whats in front of you is only the beginning. But things do become second nature the more you shoot. So as always, get out there and practice!

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