4 Tips For Using A Telephoto Lens

This is a followup post to my 4 tips for using a wide angle lens post. I call it... wait for it... 4 Tips for using a telephoto lens! Groundbreaking I know! Using telephoto lenses has almost the complete opposite effect of using wide angle lenses. Telephoto lenses are great for wildlife but also it's one of my favorite lenses for landscapes! 1) Watch your depth of field

When doing landscape photography, one thing to be aware of is the depth of field. Being close to a foreground object, it's unlikely that your background will be in focus. Even at f32, your lens will struggle to produce an acceptably sharp image throughout the scene. This means in most cases I will leave out a close foreground object when using a telephoto lens.

2) The telephoto effect

Telephoto lenses make objects appear larger and closer than the really are. If you want a distant waterfall or lighthouse to appear bigger, use a telephoto, as where a wide angle lens will make the subject appear smaller. The telephoto effect is also great for images with layers. For instance rolling hills, or maybe a field of flowers. It makes objects appear they are closer together than they really are. It will take three rows of flowers and make it feel like there is a whole field full.  A telephoto for this reason is great for images with a pattern in the scene.

3) Watch the background

The background is very important in any kind of photography. The telephoto effect will make background objects appear out of nowhere. Maybe you're photographing a deer. When you make an image, a tree that is 60 meters behind the deer doesn't really draw your attention in the viewfinder. When you open the image in Photoshop it appears as if the tree is right next to the deer, distracting to say the least! It's important to watch your background in all photography but be extra careful when using a telephoto lens.

4) Be mindful of your shutter speed

Once you start zooming out with a telephoto lens, it exaggerates any sort of movement from the camera. It makes shooting handheld more tedious, and even shooting on a tripod is more difficult! A gust of wind, or using you finger instead of a remote release will defiantly be seen in the final image, resulting in an unacceptable blurry image. To remedy this, it's often a good idea to have a shutter speed equivalent to the focal length. So if shooting at 200mm I would like to see a shutter speed around 200th of a second or faster. Remember this is for stationary subjects, if you are shooting moving subjects you will most likely need a faster shutter speed. So if you're getting slightly blurry images with your telephoto, even when shooting from a tripod, try raising your shutter speed!

This weeks image is an overlook in Leelanau County Michigan. I used a telephoto lens to draw in the distant foothills to give my image the "layered" look that only a telephoto lens can provide.

Leelanau County MI