Long Lens Landscape Photography: Stay Focused with Doug McKinlay

Long Lens Landscape Photography: Stay Focused with Doug McKinlay


Hi I’m Doug McKinlay and you’re watching AdoramaTV. AdoramaTV presents ‘Stay Focused’ with Doug McKinlay. In today’s segment, we’re going to look at
landscapes, but with a twist. Now, it’s often said the best landscape lenses are the wide angles, 21 or 24 or 35mm, and by and large, this is true, but by dismissing all other focal lengths, you’re doing yourself a bit of a disservice because good landscape pictures can be made with longer lenses. So, today we’re going to look at landscapes with telephotos and zoom lenses. Just to be clear, I’m not saying put away the wide
angles in favor of telephotos or long zoom lenses. In fact, when I’m shooting
landscape pictures I often use both. It’s just with the longer lenses, they allow me to pick out individual sections of an image, where the composition is strong and visually striking, independent of the scene as a whole. They help me clear out the clutter and make a much more intimate picture. I’ve always loved long lens landscapes, right from the very first time I got my hands on a telephoto lens. I just love the
way that some subjects really play for them, like a line of trees on the horizon,
or a single building in a giant vista, or perhaps a meandering river, or even the
mist in the mornings in the mountains. But there’s no hard and fast rules of what
makes a long lens landscape. It’s something the individual photographers have to figure
out for themselves. Now, there are some technical issues you
have to think about when you’re doing long lens landscapes. First and foremost,
you need to stabilize all your gear which means a good Tripod, I happen to use an Induro. Now, we need to reduce any kind of camera shake, remembering that with longer lenses, that’s really pronounced. So in addition to your tripod, you need to
lock the mirror up and you need to use a cable release. Next up is the issue of diffraction. Now, small apertures… really small apertures… f/16, f/22, f/32 tend to make the picture less
sharp, so I would probably recommend nothing smaller than about f/11. Now you’re focusing is also very important. Now I would say, yes, use your auto focus to get your
subject where you want it, then I would switch it off, I go to live view on the back of my camera. I’d magnify it to 10 times, tweak the
focus come out of it and I would take the picture using my cable release. On the creative side, longer lenses tend
to reduce depth of field and compress subjects. Therefore background elements in your picture will look closer and foreground elements will look bigger. You can open the aperture up to say f/2.8 and isolate just one small element in your subject
as sharp, or you can shut it down to f/11 and create greater depth of field. Just
remember the depth of field is affected by distance. The closer you are to your
subject the less depth of field, the further away you are the more depth of field. With the reach that longer lenses have, lighting conditions become more flexible too. No
longer are photographers tethered to shooting only in the mornings or in the afternoons. Flatter lighting conditions allow for tighter pictures with greater detail,
while skies that are really boring over contrasty can just simply be cut out of
the picture. Telephotos and long zoom lenses have a narrow angle of view. They only take a thin slice of the given scene. Once you learn to see
the world the way they do the possibilities are endless. Composition simplified to line shape and
form, so get out there with these long lenses and make some great landscape
pictures. Thanks for watching, I’m Doug MacKinlay
for AdoramaTV. You can subscribe to AdoramaTV for more great videos. We want to know what you think so please like or comment on this video, and stop by the Adorama Learning Centre for more great tips and tricks.

9 thoughts on “Long Lens Landscape Photography: Stay Focused with Doug McKinlay”

  • Aleksander Ortynski says:

    When showing which settings were used on some of the photos you showed "70-200" for the focal length. It might be more helpful if you showed which focal length out of that range was used.

  • It is a good video. My only issue is "70-200mm" doesn't really tell us what length you're shooting at. I'm going to assume most were closer to 200mm if not at that length.

  • VincentHannon says:

    Mahon Falls is incredibly difficult to get a really good shot. It always looks like it should be quite easy but once you leave the carpark you are being funnelled all the way to the falls.

  • Clear and simple discussion of useful elements of long lens photography.
    Using the long lens means that you are not as dependent on the lighting of the sky.
    His helpful recommendations of mirror lock, shutter release, shoot at f/11, focus using live view, are a good starting point to get sharper picture.

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