In an increasingly urban world it's often hard to find nature that isn't blemished by the man-made rubbish of our city lives. It's OK if you live in beautiful far north Queensland but for those of us who live in the urban centres of the world it's pretty hard to find a bit of untouched nature.
The photo above is the perfect example. This was taken in the heart of Sapporo - a city of 2 million people on the northern island of Hokkaido, Japan. It's my second home and my wife's home city. What you see here is the remains of the festive cherry blossom season. Left over tarps on the round, rubbish strewn all over the place, a feast of crows gorging on the leftovers. Not a pretty sight.
But in the midst of all this ugliness you have a delight little patch of tulips - all yellow with a single pink one right in the middle. And up above you have the ever beautiful cherry blossoms (which all blew down about 10 minutes after I took this photo!).
But how to capture this little bit of beauty amidst the other stuff? Enter the telephoto lens. Whereas the wide-angle lens shows a lot of what surrounds the object you're photographing, the telephoto has a very narrow field of view. As a result you see the subject and a very thin sliver of background behind it....a la this...
I stood about six feet away from the central tulip and got down on my knees to shoot it at head height. I put my 70-200mm zoom on and zoomed it all the way in to 200mm, making sure I shot between the ropes of the ugly fence.
By pointing the camera up slightly I managed to get the out-of-focus cherry blossoms as a colourful background. Even though they're a long way away from the tulips (as you can see above) the compression factor of the telephoto lens makes them look nice and close and form a lovely background. I closed the aperture down just enough to still have them blurry but not so blurry that you can't tell what they are.
Telephoto lens saves the day and rescues what seems like an impossible photographic situation. Now if only it could clean up real rubbish as effectively!
Landscape photographers tend to reach for the wide-angle lens a lot, particular here in Australia where everything is so wide and spacious. But don't forget the possibilities you get with using the longer lens, particularly if you live in a city not noted for it's pristine landscapes.