When it comes to shooting landscapes, we often default to wide angles. Yes, the wide lenses do work great for capturing grand scenes in the outdoors, but photography is not about always doing the obvious. If you want to expand your style and become more proficient with different compositional techniques, experiment with different lenses and see what happens.
As much as I love glass in the 14-24mm range, I have an equal love for the short telephoto, especially that magic range of around 85mm to 105mm (I have a 56mm for my crop sensor cameras).
As you increase your focal length, you’ll slightly compress the scene and bring those background elements forward. This allows you to focus on one or two main subject elements in the foreground and place them your background elements, which will be slightly out of focus. Using this technique narrows down the scene and highlights a few simple elements that suggest the greater world outside the borders of the photo.
This first photo above was shot with a 24mm lens. By switching to the 85mm lens, I’m able to create the first photo below. By simply skiing about 100 feet closer to the mountain, my viewpoint changes, which produces the third vertical photo, where the mountain is slightly out of focus. Even by using the same lens, changing up my vantage point gives a very different look
Which one do you like best out of all three of these shots?
Experimentation goes a long way in photography. Next time you want to change up your creative compositions, try with using different lenses on your scene. Mix it up. If your first inkling is to shoot a particular subject with a wide angle lens, try swapping out to a telephoto and see how that affects your photo.
By the same token, if you’re shooting a portrait and you’ve got the short telephoto on the camera, swap out to a wide angle and see what you get.