Telephoto Landscapes

Fading Light, Carrizo Plain CA

I was waiting, unsuccessfully, for some kit foxes to emerge from their den at sunset. They never showed, so there I was, stuck with a 500mm lens on my tripod and a lot of time on my hands. It was a glorious sunset, throwing shadows on the ridges of the Temblor Range (home of the San Andreas Fault).

Normally, I would look for a classic “Sierra Club Calendar Composition” with a wide-angle foreground leading to the distant hills.But here the foreground was dull and already in shadow. So instead, I used what I had, and looked for compositions through my 500mm lens. The extreme focal length forced me to look at the landscape as a collection of compressed patterns and light, almost an abstract: simply said, a picture that I could not have taken with any other lens. The lesson: look beyond the box, and experiment with the dramatic change in perspective that telephoto lenses can offer – even when that’s not what you were after in the first place…

Meanwhile, I have been field testing the new Nikon D800 : a truly GREAT camera. Yes, the choice of three hi-res crops gives you great flexibility, but my favorite toy is the Virtual Horizon feature, right in the viewfinder. You’ll never have crooked horizons again!
Nikon D800 with Nikkor 500mm F4 lens