Camera Lenses: Wide Angle or Telephoto ?

By Geoff Harris

Fine Art Landscape Photography Course

Which Lens Should I Use?

Back in the days of prime lenses, when a photographer arrived at a location he would need to decide which lens to use for the subject at hand. Nowadays, with the preponderance of zoom lenses, the same decision remains – which end of the zoom to use? Should we zoom close in on our subject with a long focal length, or go to the wide angle end of the lens?

Lots of different factors will affect our decision. The main question is whether or not we want to show our subject within its setting.

If the setting will enhance the image, either because it is beautiful, or because it contains important information to “place” the subject, then we’ll choose a wide angle lens to include all it.

Fine Art Landscape Photography Course

For instance, an old barn in the Yorkshire dales may well be an attractive subject in itself, but a photograph which includes the pattern of fields and drystone walls around it will provide more information, as well as perhaps being more visually satisfying.

I could have zoomed in tightly on this remote church in Iceland, but I chose to give a lot of space around it, partly to emphasise the feeling of remoteness, and partly to make the most of the fabulous sky.

On the other hand, if the subject is in surroundings which are unattractive, or which are unrelated to it, we might want to zoom in closer with a telephoto lens and isolate the subject.

Fine Art Landscape Photography Course

For instance, if we saw a beautiful tree growing near a building site, we may want to zoom in on the tree, and exclude everything else.

At other times we may even want to zoom so close that we crop in to the subject itself. When I came across this tree surrounded by wildflowers, I saw that the left side of the tree had broken branches, and there were large areas of bare earth between the wildflowers.

So I decided to zoom in tightly, cropping into the tree, and only including the “best bits” of the scene in my photograph.

If you’re interested in learning more about composing landscape photographs, you might like to consider my 4 week course on Fine Art Landscape Photography.

If you would like to learn more about Photography why not consider taking a 4 week online photography Course.
An Introduction to Digital Photography Course with David Taylor

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) - the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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