Long Lens Photography Tips
Join ePHOTOzine, the friendliest photography community.
Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more for free!
When To Use Longer Lenses - How and why should you use longer lenses for taking photos.
Tripod – This is a must as even the smallest of movements will remove any chances of a sharp shot. You need a tripod and a head that's suited for the weight and size of the lens/camera you're using. Heads include the Manfrotto 500 Series Fluid Head and 290 3-Way Photo Head with foldable compact handles.
If you're heading for a location where you'll be doing a lot of walking you may prefer to pack a monopod as they're easier to walk with.
Shutter release/camera's self-timer – even you just pressing the shutter button can cause shake so use a remote release or the camera's self-timer function to start the exposure so shake doesn't spoil your shot.
Out Of Focus BackgroundTelephoto lenses are useful for producing shots that have a shallow depth of field which means your backgrounds will be nicely out of focus allowing all attention to fall on your subject.
Shooting portraits with longer lenses means you still fill the frame with your subject's face without making them feel uncomfortable by invading their personal space. Longer focal lengths also give a more pleasing perspective and the good bokeh they create, as mentioned previously, helps isolate your subject so they 'pop' from the frame. Finally, the compression longer lenses offer, especially when you're using a wide-ish aperture, helps flatter their features – something all subjects want.
If you have distant and foreground interest you should pull out your longer lens from your bag. Just make sure you're using a small aperture as you'll need front to back sharpness in your shot. This works well with interesting rock formations, trees etc. but also consider using an object such as a fence or path that can lead the eye from the front of the image to a point of interest in the distance. The perspective longer lenses create also mean you can almost stack distant and objects closer to your lens so they appear to be much closer to each other than they are, adding impact and extra interest as you do. This can work particularly well on misty mornings when distant hills can be turned into lines of stacked shapes.
If you have a lot of open, boring space between you and the mountains you want to photograph use the longer focal length to pull the mountains to you, removing the empty foreground as you do. You can also pick out detail such as a waterfall, tree or distant structure that a wide-angle lens wouldn't be able to capture in the same way.
BuildingsLonger lenses will help you highlight patterns and shoot interesting detail you'd miss with a wide-angle lens. It also means that if you can't access the roof to get close to the statues/carvings that sit around the building you're photographing, you can use the longer lens from the ground to bring the detail to you. Do remember though that when longer lenses magnify distant objects the tiniest of movements can create a large amount of blur in your photograph so make sure you stick to quicker shutter speeds when possible and carry a lens that features vibration reduction. For more stability work with a tripod.
WildlifeTry and get close to a lot of wildlife and they'll have ran or flown off before you've got your camera out of its bag. Instead of playing a game of cat and mouse all day, find a spot that you won't scare the wildlife off from and use the pull of a telephoto lens to bring the animal/bird to you. Using a longer lens will also mean you're not putting yourself in danger if you're trying to capture shots of something known to bite!
Unless you have a press pass, getting close to the action at many sporting events isn't possible so you'll need your longer lens. For tips on shooting action take a look at ePHOTOzine's technique section.
Shoot For The MoonIf you try and photograph the moon without a telephoto lens (you may also need a teleconverter too) it will just like a small bright circle sat against a blanket of black sky. For tips on shooting the moon take a look at our previous articles in the technique section.
See what exciting & new content is available on the Manfrotto website: