Choose Your Lens Carefully!

Ever been out shooting and not quite sure which lens to use? Today’s post, captured during my recent Columbia Gorge trip (Oregon) is a good example of how different lenses can dramatically change the image you capture. During my second visit to the Rowena Plateau area of the Tom McCall Nature Preserve, I decided to “travel light” as I hiked, and to venture into an area I had not checked out on my first visit to the area. So I only took my macro lens and my wide angle lens with me.

After shooting for a couple of hours, I was quite a ways from the car (where I left the other lenses), when I came upon a landscape scenic that I desperately wanted to capture: a beautiful patch of Balsamroot wildflowers in the foreground, and an old wooden barn in the background. I immediately realized that my 70-200mm, f/2.8 lens would have been my lens of choice with the scene in front of me. But it was in the car. Since it was a little too far to go back for the 70-200 lens, I decided to shoot with the wide angle lens and see what I could get. Here is my favorite image with the wide angle lens:

Balsamroot wildflowers and wooden barn in background - wide angle

Unfortunately, you can’t even see the barn in this image, unless you really strain your eyes! Do you see it? It is about in the center of the image (left-to-right), and on top of the little plateau that comes from the right. Nothing like I envisioned capturing when I saw the scene before my eyes!

A couple of days later, as I was starting my return trip home, I decided to stop here once more (it was only 6 miles off my route home) and try the 70-200mm lens. Arriving right before sunrise, I shot some images of the sunrise (I’ll post on these later). When the sun was overhead, I hiked to the area that contained the barn. Setting up my tripod at the same location, here is the image I captured with the telephoto lens:

Balsamroot wildflowers and wooden barn in background - telephoto lens

Definitely more like I envisioned capturing on my previous trip! And the barn becomes an important part of the image. This image also points out an important factor of shooting landscapes with a telephoto lens. The telephoto lens gives us a nice, compressed look. This compression impacts this image in a couple of ways. First, it compresses the balsamroot wildflower patch into a much larger-looking patch of wildflowers. Second, the area between the flowers and barn is greatly compressed, making the barn much more an active part of this image. And if you are shooting in a mountainous location, where several distinct “layers” of mountains can be seen, the compression of these layers can be quite dramatic.

So the question arises, “Why not take the telephoto lens with me the first time?” Well, the answer to that is weight. As I age, carrying around camera gear is becoming more difficult, especially when hiking uneven ground, and I constantly work at finding ways to lighten the load. In this instance, it just wasn’t a good choice. But at least I had an opportunity to return with the telephoto lens at a later date!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark III body (both images)
  • Tamron 17-35mm, f/2.8 lens, and Canon 70-200mm, f/2.8 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400 (wide angle image) and ISO 100 (telephoto image)
  • Aperture f/11 (wide angle image) and Aperture f/22 (telephoto image)
  • Shutter 1/4 sec. (wide angle image) and Shutter 1/45 sec. (telephoto image)
  • Wide angle image shot at 17mm; Telephoto image shot at 200mm
  • The telephoto image is actually a focus-stacked image, using 3 images combined into one (to assure sharp DOF throughout image)



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Posted in 2017, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Travel Photography, Wildflowers
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  • Wendy and Cookie Cat

    Hi Jim!
    So good to see your beautiful photography again I have been ‘gone’ for about 6 months..nothing bad just not on my computer very was worthwhile to open it and see your lovely pics…
    Sounds like you are holding up pretty well, bless you..and yes I know what you mean about getting on a bit and carrying stuff….I can relate for sure!
    Anyway fondest love, you were just a stone’s throw away from me ..Cookie and I recently moved to a gorgeous spot in Winlock Wa. ..the house I was renting sold and along came this beautiful little spot! I am sitting in a sea of green..gorgeous :) it feels like the w/end every day especially now I am officially “retired” lol…..
    Here’s a big hug and a big purr from Cookie and I ..he has made the transition very well bless him…catch you soon :) <3 xox

  • Thanks for the note, Wendy! And glad to hear you are doing well. I gotta say you live in a wonderful area! So beautiful in springtime, with all the wonderful waterfalls and mountainsides of wildflowers! I’m certainly hoping on making a return trip one of these times … still lots of exploring I’d like to do :o)
    Hope you’re having a great week … will talk later. :o)

  • Wendy and Cookie Cat

    Dearest Jim……How can it be 4 months since I stopped in to say hi…????? I think ‘time’ and I have parted company ..the present moment is always so full and alive :) Being retired now …reminds me of when I was a little girl, few responsibilities and endless periods of pure relaxation and fun and outdoor adventures…it’s wonderful :) I am blessed indeed. We have been so very fortunate here to have had some rain finally… with 60 days but practically zero…and our valley’s locally filled with smoke from fires far away… .in BC, Canada to the north and the Cascades…not to mention smaller contained local fires…I mention this because I was in awe looking at some of the photography, which has sadly brought home the tragedies , but more so the incredible bravery and commitment to the firefighters and all involved and the photographers..I plan on cozy winter nights to put my feet up by a wood stove and enjoy perusing a lot more of your special pics and those of your students…it will be lovely….My thoughts are with you especially as we move into the Holiday season and the sweet soul who took the great photo of YOU photographing the squirrel..haha..too funny, I hope time has softened it all a little… :) <3 purr purr xoxox

  • Hi, Wendy! Sorry it’s taken so long to get back to you. I was in Madison County, Iowa last week to photograph the wonderful covered bridges there, both in fall color and some night photography. Back home and trying to get caught up now!
    Glad you are now retired and enjoying yourself! Thanks for your wonderful message, and have a GREAT weekend! Jim