The first lens many people think of for landscape photography are wide angles. While I utilize wide and super-wide glass in much of my work, I also find telephoto lenses to be highly effective in helping depict landscapes.
On a recent trip to Louisiana—sharing CURIOUS CRITTERS with children and parents at the Jefferson Parish library and with photographers at the Gulf States Camera Club Council conference in New Iberia—I took an afternoon boat ride down the Mississippi River. Heading south from New Orleans, we passed a multitude of industrial sites, from sugar cane factories to refineries. Serving alongside these land operations are all varieties of marine vessels.
What struck my photographer’s eye along the way were all the man-made patterns, shapes, and colors. So I grabbed my Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens, added a Sigma circular polarizing filter, turned on the Optical Stabilization, and began shooting lines, forms, and textures!
Telephoto lenses are great for this kind of work. They compress elements that are not necessarily right next to each other, making scenes seem busy with activity: girders, pipes, electric lines, ropes, barrels, smokestacks, you name it, can be all smashed together, creating a strong sense of place. Strong subject repititions allows viewers to quickly see the intricate structures that subtend industry.
Add to these elements compounding colors, varied patterns, and a smattering of symmetry, and such compressed images of industry become not only full of local information but also playfully energetic.
Next time you venture into the field—whether a national park or a industrial neighborhood—certainly use your wide angle glass, but don’t forget to throw on your 70-200mm zoom or other telephotos. There’s nothing like compressing elements in a scene to help tell a story or create a strong sense of place.
David FitzSimmons is Sigma Pro photographer, and free lance writer, and an educator. See David’s macro techniques in his new, five-time award-winning picture book CURIOUS CRITTERS or visit www.fitzsimmonsphotography.com.