Landscape Photos with a Telephoto Lens? Here’s How it’s Done (VIDEO)

Landscape photography and telephotos lenses aren’t two concepts that typically go together, because most photographer reach for wider focal lengths. But if you’re familiar with the tutorials we feature from Utah-based pro Austin James Jackson, you know how much he loves shooting the great outdoors with telephoto glass.

As Jackson says, “I continue to fill my portfolio far quicker with telephoto landscapes than I do with wide-angle scenes.” In this informative 10-minute episode he provides 7 helpful tips for doing the same. He discusses a wide range of topics, from composition, using negative space and leading lines, to adding depth, understanding compression and much more.

One reason for using a long lens to capture images of the great outdoors is that it enables you to reduce clutter, create a more intimate look, and bring attention to “something that’s out of the ordinary.” One example is photographing forest scenes, and Jackson says this can be “excruciatingly difficult under most lighting conditions” when shooting with a wide-angle lens.

But watch what happens when Jackson pulls out a telephoto lens and uses it to advantage in California’s coastal redwoods where the forests are really busy with tightly-packed tree and clusters of other types of foliage with different colors and tones. As you’ll see, a telephoto zoom enables you to make sense out of all the chaos.

When taking this approach Jackson typically keeps the sky out of his composition to further simplify the images. He also explains why it’s very important to keep a close eye on the edges of the frame to make sure that no distracting elements intrude into the shot, and thereby draw attention away from the essence of the photo. As you’ll see, it’s easy to avoid that problem by zooming in as tight as necessary.

Jackson also provides sound advice for “following the light” in a way that is significantly different than what you’d might do when shooting wide-angle landscapes. He also explains the concept of “telephoto compression,” and how to leverage this optical effect for creating images with maximum impact.

Other important topics include the power of negative space, simple methods for adding depth to telephoto landscapes, and the manner in which Jackson employs leading lines to tell a story and draw the viewer into the scene.

If landscape photography is your thing, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Jackson’s popular YouTube channel where there are many more powerful techniques to learn. So set aside some time to explore everything that’s available.

And if you prefer to stick with the standard approach, be sure to watch the tutorial we posted from another accomplished outdoor photographer who demonstrates several pro tips for shooting expansive landscape photographs with a wide-angle lens.