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I’ll admit something to you – something that I haven’t really talked about with too many. Something that might sound strange coming from someone who makes a living from photography…
I’ve had close to zero inspiration for doing landscape photography for several months – despite being out in the field most of the winter season.
There are many reasons why I’ve lacked inspiration, but most of them come back to the urge to creating something different, which I keep asking myself is possible at all. Has it all been done already? Aren’t we all in one way or another influenced by the photographers we admire? For years, my work has focused on wide-angle landscape photography. While I still enjoy it, I’ve become more fascinated with the intimate views offered through the use of a telezoom. This is how my inspiration blossomed again.
One of the great things about using ultra wide-angle lenses is that it’s relatively easy to get a decent shot. Find a foreground, get close to it, smack on a filter or two and, hello, nice image. It might not be portfolio-worthy right out of the box, but it will certainly impress your friends and family.
Working with a telezoom is quite different, though. Simply zooming in on something isn’t going to create an interesting shot. You need to find that special something hiding within the grand landscape. Also, you’re even more dependent on having the right light and weather conditions.
When I first picked up a telezoom many years ago, the fact that it forced me to slow down was one of the best benefits. It changed my approach to photography and the world in many ways. Prior to that moment, I’d go out photographing but not really do much observing.
That’s different now.
In fact, I often do more observing than photographing.
I quite often return home from outings without the camera leaving my backpack.
It’s not just about being out there taking as many images as possible. It’s about enjoying the time you spend out there. This is something that came back to me again when, late last year, I started playing more with my Fuji 100-400mm again.
Well, I’m not sure if simply zooming in is going to help create more unique work, but I think that, in many cases, it’s possible to show well-known scenes in an entirely new light. Up until now, “trophy hunting” has typically taken place in wide-angle landscapes. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the overall landscape doesn’t need to be stunning when working with a telezoom. You can get stunning images anywhere you look.
The type of images captured at a focal length of, for example, 400mm are often what I call “no-name landscapes.” What I mean by this is that it doesn’t matter exactly where you take that shot; it’s simply beautiful, and you can just enjoy the image.
When I’m guiding photography workshops, I often notice that many of the participants tend to stick with one lens, regardless of what we’re photographing and what the weather is like. This is despite the fact that they often have a wide selection of lenses to choose from in their backpack.
Now, I’ve been there, and I’m willing to bet that you’ve been there too. The reason is that we tend to have a favorite lens and quickly forget about all the others. My go-to lens for many years was the Nikon 16-35mm. Looking back at it now, I know that I missed a lot of great shots because I had taught myself to view the world within that focal length.
Mixing it up and taking out the telezoom forces you to break that bad habit and view the world at an unfixed focal length. When I’m standing at a location today, I’m continually analyzing my surroundings looking for both wide-angle and telezoom images.
Maybe I’m just rambling and making no sense. I ultimately believe that any artist is free to do whatever they want with their work. Who am I to tell someone what to do or not to do? The only thing I know for sure is that focusing more on working with a long focal length gave me a much-needed boost of inspiration and has led to me now enjoying working on several new and interesting projects.
Have you been getting into taking photos with a telezoom? We’d love you to share them with the dPS community in the comments section below.