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Top Ten Ways To Use A Telephoto Lens For Photography

Top Ten Ways To Use A Telephoto Lens For Photography - Here are ten tips on how to use and what to shoot with a telephoto lens.

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Category : General Photography
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Tamron Telephoto lenses can be used to take photos of a variety of subjects so here's our ten top reasons to use a telephoto lens.

Using Longer Lenses

When working with longer lenses, the slightest of movements can mean you end up with images that aren't absolutely sharp so make sure you use a tripod and have a tripod head that can support the lens / camera you're using. If you need to move around quite a bit you may prefer to use a monopod but either way, you need some sort of support. A tripod or monopod will also stop your arms aching from carrying the weight of a long, heavy lens around with you all day.

To minimise shake further, use a cable release to start your exposures. If you don't have a cable release, use your camera's self-timer so when you do press the shutter button, it's not in the same instance you take the shot, preventing shake creeping into the image as a result.

Longships Lighthouse being pounded by waves during an Atlantic storm. Lands End, Cornwall, England, UK
Photo by David Clapp - www.davidclapp.co.uk

Bring Far Subjects Close

The telephoto effect these lenses have make objects, that may actually have quite a lot of distance between them, appear as if they're sat close together. The longer your focal length, the more obvious the effect will be. It's useful when you have a city skyline or mountains in the background which will give you a more interesting and pleasing shot if they're pulled a little closer to the object closer to your lens e.g. the bridge, building or boulder that's your main point of focus.

Fill The Frame

When you want to exclude some part of what's in your frame e.g. a boring grey sky that's in the background of your landscape shot, use a telephoto lens to focus in on the colourful tree line rather than having the trees and sky in shot. It'll also pull a distant subject closer to you, which means you can get frame-filling shots of shy wildlife or of a particular aspect of the landscape that's too far for you to get to.

Pick Distant Subjects Out

If you want to draw attention to particular aspect that would be lost if shot with a wider focal length, use a telephoto lens to isolate your subject. You can do this with shorter focal lengths but the longer reach of a telephoto means you can isolate a subject that's some distance away from where you're shooting from.


As a telephoto lens closes the distance between you and whatever you're photographing, it's an ideal lens for photographing wildlife. With a telephoto lens you'll be able to take shots that look like you were just a few steps away from your subject when really you were some distance away. This distance means your subject won't be scared off and if you're shooting what could be considered as a dangerous animal, the distance makes it safer for you.

Photograph The Moon

Your shots won't be as good as those who use telescopes but you can still get excellent shots of the moon with a long telephoto lens. As well as a very long lens you also need a tripod, clear skies, good weather, remote / cable release, a few hours to spare and good technique. You can find more tips on shooting the moon here: Moon Photography



Shooting head or head and shoulder shots with a longer focal length can give a better perspective and allows for a tighter crop when working further away from your subject. This distance also means you don't have to work too close to your subject and as a result they'll be more comfortable, and you'll have more natural looking portraits. You'll also be able to capture shots without any distortion and backgrounds are more easily thrown out of focus, even when they are just a couple of meters behind your subject, meaning all focus falls directly on your subject. Just keep an eye on your shutter speed if working hand-held, though, as you don't want shake spoiling your shot.

Shallow Depth Of Field

As mentioned above, telephoto lenses make it easier to get the blurry backgrounds in photos that isolate your subject and really make them the focus of your shot. You don't want a distracting background detail competing for the viewer's attention and a shallow depth of field will make sure this doesn't happen.

Capture Action

For fast paced action that you can't get close to e.g. motor sport and flying events, you'll need the longer focal lengths telephotos give you as most of the time, it'll be impossible to get close to the action. To create a sense of pace, use your telephoto lens to shoot a few shots where your subject is sharp but the background is nicely thrown out of focus. How good you are at panning, what shutter speed you use, how fast your subject is moving and how much light's around will make this task harder / easier every time you head to the track, but do it a few times and you'll soon perfect your technique.


If you want to show a bridge in the context of its surroundings, fit a telephoto lens to your camera. They're also good for compressing perspective and are good for zooming in on and isolating structure detail. Longer lenses also have a stronger flattening effect which can look great when there are lots of lines to compress.


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