January 21

1 comments

Extreme Telephoto Landscapes

By Dan

January 21, 2019

Although wide angle lenses are often touted as being the ideal choice for shooting landscapes, don’t discount your long glass for this purpose. You can achieve stunning results by using telephoto lenses for your nature scenes.

Long lenses let you isolate specific portions of your subject matter and focus on one particular aspect, shape, pattern or color scheme. This narrowed-down view can help you clean up your image and achieve much more simplicity in your compositions.

In addition, long lenses give you increased relative size of the subject in your frame and greatly compressed perspective. You can apply these characteristics with great creative advantage by portraying prominent, striking subjects against bold backdrops. You can also use the extremely shallow depth of field inherent in telephoto lenses to throw your background elements way out of focus.

I find that using lone lenses really accentuates the concept of abbreviation in your photography. By only giving your viewer bits and pieces, you force them to think about the rest of the scene and imagine what’s outside the borders of the frame. You can also highlight specific details in your scene that might otherwise go unnoticed by most viewers who pass by the scene.

I love shooting with long lenses, and in fact, one of my favorite tools for landscape photography is my 100-400mm lens. I use it to capture both close and distant scenes, isolate intriguing elements and create powerful, distraction-free composition.

Here’s a selection of images made with my 100-400. Of course, you can use these techniques with any kind of long lens, whether it’s a fixed short telephoto or a workhorse zoom like the 70-200.

I hope some of theses photos inspire you to try shooting your own extreme telephoto landscapes.

If you’d like more lens tips, download my free mini-guide, USING LENSES- a Guide for Getting the Most From Your Glass.

Moonrise over

About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.


  • Good stuff, Dan. Having just switched to Fuji X last year, the 50-140mm f/2.8 is top on my list for my next get. That’s a versatile focal length as far as I’m concerned, and works great for landscapes as well as sports and portraiture.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Never miss a post!

     Subscribe and get notified whenever I write something new!

    >

    WOULD YOU LIKE TO SAVE 20% ON MY BRAND NEW eBOOK?

    Sign up for my newsletter and I'll send you an exclusive discount code. 


    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

    Thank you! The examples you present and the suggestions are very helpful. Purple Mountains, McKinley River and Wonder Lake are fascinating.


    Roger Sinclair

    You have done it again! Another triumph.

    Your generosity to share, the clarity of thought and concise explanation thereof is brilliant. Perhaps I should also mention the beautiful photos and the talent necessary to produce them.

    Thank you, Dan.