2017-09-07

Long Lens Landscape Photography with David Clapp

At the Park Cameras Imaging Festival in June 2017, award-winning landscape and travel photographer David Clapp was in store sharing his wealth of knowledge to help customers take some fantastic landscape shots using a variety of different lenses and cameras including the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

For those not able to make the event, or those who did and want to refresh their memory, we’ve listed David’s 7 best tricks for making the most of a long-lens landscape.

Shooting long lens landscapes with photographer David Clapp

When we head out into the landscape, most of us tend to reach for a wide-angle lens before any other. And it’s not surprising, really. After all, with a wide, sweeping vista in front of us, it’s only natural to want to capture as much of it as possible within the frame.

However, next time you find yourself in this position, why not take a look at the other lenses in your kit bag? In particular, the long telephoto. Because the lens that’s most usually associated with the likes of wildlife and sports photography can also become your best friend in the landscape, too.

Longships Lighthouse in Cornwall (Copyright David Clapp)

First and foremost, shooting a landscape using a telephoto lens compresses the scene. The longer the lens, the more extreme the compressing effect. Because this is something we can’t recreate with the human eye, the resulting image allows the photographer to play tricks on the viewer, altering the sense of scale and place, and creating an abstract out of what might otherwise be a rather ordinary scene.

Landscape photographer David Clapp is renowned for creating this kind of image. Here are his seven best tricks for making the most of a long-lens landscape.

Cameras

A Canon ambassador, David’s camera of choice is the 30.4MP Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. He describes it as being so versatile, it does the work of two cameras. As a back-up body, he has the EOS M5


Lens

For long-lens landscapes, he doesn’t have several telephoto primes – just the one Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM covers all his needs. Especially as, when coupled with an EOS M5 and a 1.4x converter, it gives him a whopping 892mm focal length.


Stability

When shooting scenes such as this, stability is the number-one consideration, as even the most minuscule movement will show up in the image. As such, David uses a Really Right Stuff LCF-54 foot which, he says, unlocks the potential of the lens. Along with this, he uses a Gitzo GSLVLS levelling base, an Acratech GV2 ball head (as flat heads cause vibration) and spikes on the feet of his Gitzo GT4543LS tripod. To make sure everything is really locked solid, you’ll also need a telephoto lens support.

Eyjafjallajokull Volcano, Iceland (Copyright David Clapp)

Composition

Keep your eyes open for something different and take the time to identify your composition. Remember, you’ll be looking for an extremely small element of the wider vista. Silhouettes always work well, as do the ‘folds’ and layers within the landscape that are emphasised by a long lens. If you can, include a figure within the frame to give a sense of scale. And don’t forget, the further you zoom into a scene, the wider the aperture you can use. 

Haze

The longer the lens you use, the less contrast there will be in the final image, because of atmospheric haze. Don’t be tempted to remove this in Photoshop, as it not only gives a sense of depth, but also creates a softness and distortion that can be very pleasing. 

Mist over Glastonbury (Copyright David Clapp)

Final Step

Always, always, use mirror-up, a cable release and set your camera to its two-second self-timer to ensure no vibrations ruin your carefully planned shot.

Panoramas

Long lenses are fantastic for producing panoramic images. To do this, first turn the camera on its side, use the camera’s 3x3 grid view, and move the camera one third at a time for each shot. David uses PTGui software to stitch the images together in post-production. 

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley, California
Canon EOS M5, Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM + 1.4x converter
560mm focal length, 1/500sec at f/8, ISO 400 © David Clapp

For further inspiration, you can visit Davids website at davidclapp.co.uk, or follow him on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


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