15 Feb 2011

Be bold and use the telephoto lens for landscapes

The Namib Desert is full of photographic gems, yet it is not easy to capture the expansive landscape and its intricate atmosphere.

Travelling into the desert from Windhoek one may choose to drive over the Spreetshoogte pass; the view from there is just breathtaking. Camping at the top of the pass allowed me to photograph at sunset and sunrise, the low sun shining flat across the plains creating long shadows at each foothill. The 600mm telephoto lens compresses the landscape and emphasizes the various lines, patterns and colours. I literally had hundreds of square kilometers of space to choose from to get the "right" composition. Since the sun moves quickly there is not much time and instinct takes over, first scanning the landscape without the camera before looking thru the lens for the final framing.

I believe a telephoto lens very often is the better choice for a landscape image than the wideangle. Browsing thru portfolios of "classical american landscape photography" for instance, I get bored quickly as the photographers typically use the wideangle lens and the views are rather repetitive. While the landscape, light and colours may be fantastic, the compositions are without surprise to me as a viewer. With a telephoto lens you as the photographer must make a much bolder and unique choice to depict atmosphere and vastness. It is much more of challenge than the "safe" choice of a wideangle shot and often results in exiting and unique landscape images.

Arid Pattern, Central Namib, Namibia

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