Sign up for our newsletter
Stay up to date on all the latest photography gear!Subscribe
Curating Your Images Will Improve Your Photography. Here’s HowCurating your images well is a critical...
Close Encounter With Bear Gives Photographer A Jolt (& A Great Image)Ever stumbled across an animal...
5 Ways to Create Stunning Photos Using New AnglesEven a small change in perspective can...
How To Use HDR For Nature Photography
Can I stop carrying graduated neutral density filters?
Photographing A Scientific Expedition
For the photo adventure of a lifetime, use your skills to help document a scientific expedition.
How To Plan A Milky Way Photo Shoot
Tips for choosing locations, timing and creative approaches to photographing the Milky Way above the landscape for incredible nighttime photos.
Florida Photo Hot Spots
A guide to the variety of stunning locations for nature photography in the Sunshine State.
Lake Of The Clouds
Best times and locations to photograph in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan.
Adam Jones on photographing the elements that give America’s first national park its out-of-this-world reputation.
This is the 1st of your 3 free articles
Become a member for unlimited website access and more.
FREE TRIAL Available!
Already a member? Sign in to continue reading
Some of my favorite portfolio images have been taken with my telephoto lenses. Zooming in on the landscape compresses features together and can enable more abstract and artistic compositions. When I was out photographing in the autumn of 2013, I used my 300mm lens as often as the wider-angle lenses since telephoto compositions work particularly well for trees and foliage. In this article, I’ll share a few of my favorite telephoto landscapes and what to look for when you want to create intriguing telephoto landscape compositions.
For my image “Autumn’s Grace,” I used a 300mm lens and a 1.7x converter attached, making it a 510mm shot (with my medium-format Hasselblad lens). The telephoto composition compresses the foreground aspens with the foliage in the background, making everything in the image appear on a similar plane. The aspens in the lower portion of the image have lost some of their leaves, making them appear translucent. Even though this is a telephoto composition, I used basic compositional guidelines, including the Rule of Thirds and an interesting foreground, to create this image.
In “Rainbow Waterfall,” I also used the 300mm plus the 1.7x teleconverter. I was in Yosemite Valley photographing a more wide-angle composition in Ahwahnee Meadow, and happened to turn around and see the February sun illuminating Upper Yosemite Falls, creating a colorful rainbow from the spray. The rainbow started higher up the waterfall, and as the sun moved, the colors slowly progressed down the waterfall. I quickly put on my telephoto lens, looked through the viewfinder and noticed the tree in the lower left of the image, which lent an important sense of scale to the composition. When the rainbow colors met the trees, I knew I had my shot. Sometimes you can’t clearly see the composition until you look through the viewfinder with the tele lens on. I like to handhold the camera while I’m looking for the composition, then before I take the shot, I lock the camera on the tripod and use a cable release with mirror lock-up so that camera shake is eliminated. There’s no tolerance for camera movement when shooting telephoto landscapes, since every bit of camera shake is magnified in the final image.
“High Country Aspens”
This image of dogwood blossoms demonstrates how telephoto lenses can be used with wildflower photography. Since telephoto images magnify the subject, the blur in out-of-focus areas is more apparent for a given aperture. You can use this to create the “bokeh” effect with larger apertures, which can be particularly attractive with wildflowers. This lends an artistic softness to the image and helps draw attention to the in-focus blossoms. If all the blossoms were in focus in this image, I think the composition wouldn’t work as well, since there would be more distracting elements in the image.
I took “High Country Aspens” with the 300mm lens and 1.7x converter. The telephoto composition allowed me to zoom in on a particular section of this aspen grove in the far distance that had some smaller evergreen trees, which lend a sense of scale and contrast to the scene. When photographing fall foliage, I think it’s important to make the tree trunks visible in the composition. These trunks were very tall and straight, making them an ideal subject. The telephoto composition allowed me to emphasize the beauty and uniformity of these trunks by compressing the grove. Photographing the aspens from a distance helped me avoid the distortion created by using a wide-angle lens.
See more of Elizabeth Carmel‘s photography at elizabethcarmel.com. and thecarmelgallery.com. Workshop information is available at elizabethcarmel.com.