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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Make things look big

The other thing that telephoto lenses do very well is to make things look big. Many people immediately reach for the wide-angle lens when taking landscape photos. But wide-angles have a different function. Things that are close to the camera look big, but things off in the distance look small and far away.

If you want the mountain on the horizon to look as large as it is you need to reach for the telephoto lens. Again, the longer the lens the more effective it looks.

When an object almost fills the frame, and is taken with a telephoto lens, it really gives a sense of the hugeness of something. Maybe not the greatest idea for the mother of the bride but perfect for big snow-capped mountain peaks.

Another thing that helps emphasise size is to put something else in the picture to show how big things are. To give it a sense of scale. In this photo on the left if you look carefully at the bottom of the frame you can see a trail of yaks walking along a mountain path.

Now as we learnt yesterday the telephoto lens compresses the persepective so even though the path looks like it's right at the base of the mountain it's actually a good 5 kilometres or so away. See the camera was able to lie long before Photoshop came along!

This mountain is known as Ama Dablam and it is one of the most picturesque mountains in the Himalayas of Nepal. This photo was taken just on the outskirts of the Himalayan town of Namche on the path towards Mt Everest. It was taken with a 300mm lens on Fuji Velvia.

So before you automatically reach for your widest lens when out photographing landscapes take a couple of seconds to think about it. Do you want to emphasise how big something is? Then leave the wide-angle in the bag and reach for your longest telephoto.

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