I believe there’s a preconceived notion in landscape photography that shooting a landscape photograph means shooting wide.
I believe that because I used to think it.
If you’re going to capture the landscape, bring out your 14mm or 16-35mm lenses and cram as much as you can into the frame.
Several years ago, though, I watched a video with an expert landscape photographer who I noticed was primarily using his telephoto lenses in the field.
Of course, now it makes perfect sense to me. Telephoto lenses bring you closer to the scene you’re shooting, and consequently give you more control to isolate what’s in the frame.
Here are 2 images shot at different focal lengths within 5 minutes of each other from a sunrise overlooking Mt. Agung in Bali.
I like both for different reasons. Maybe you prefer the 16mm look – adding more context to the location. I like the way the telephoto brings focus to the sun somewhat ominously breaking through the clouds. It’s not about the location in particular in this second photo, but maybe in that way it stands out from the many similar shots other tourists would take day after day in that same place.
Ultimately, I think this is a good example for me to remember to constantly struggle against your own preconceived notions of the ‘right’ way to shoot.
Here’s one more example from 2 sunsets shot on consecutive days in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Bring a telephoto to your next landscape shoot and at the very least, you’ll have a few options to pick from.