Wide-angle lenses are not “landscape lenses” – All lenses are landscape lenses

May 12, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

May 12, 2022

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Whenever we turn our hand towards photographing a landscape, I think most of us tend to go for the widest lens we own. Or at least, if not the widest, something pretty wide. It’s a logical and natural choice to make, though. We’re confronted with this beautiful view and we want to be able to capture as much of it as possible. But is it potentially doing more harm than good for your photography?

In this video, Mads Peter Iverson talks about this issue and that we really need to start breaking out of the mindset that we need a wide-angle lens in order to be able to shoot good landscape photography. It’s an interesting discussion that not only discusses the benefits of using longer focal lengths to shoot landscapes but the downfalls of only using wide angle lenses.

Wide-angle lenses used to be my go-to for landscape photography. And to a degree, they still are. They’re small, they’re convenient and they allow me to put the whole scene into a single shot. And if I’m just shooting for myself, recording a memory to look back on or if I’m location scouting and just getting an overall view of the area is what’s important, then that’s fine. But the first time I found myself forced to shoot a landscape with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR – because it was literally the only lens I had on me at the time and I really wanted to capture the scene – I realised that there was so much more to landscape photography than just throwing a wide lens on the camera and pointing it towards the view before me.

Mads explains the reasons for choosing a telephoto lens over a wide-angle lens for shooting landscapes much better than I ever could. But he specialises in landscape photography. He’s had a lot more time to think about it and experiment with it because it’s in his best interests to do so in order to elevate his own work. For me, landscapes are just a random thing I do occasionally when I find myself somewhere pretty and happen to have a camera with me. Or, the landscape is merely the backdrop to a portrait of a human subject and I don’t need to pay as much attention to the environment itself as Mads does.

But Mads raises some excellent points in this seventeen-and-a-half-minute video, going over composition, when you might want to go with one focal length over another and even how the time of day might affect your lens choice, along with a number of other topics you’ll want to consider – and that I’ll certainly consider in the future – before hitting that shutter button.

Ultimately, though, he says that all lenses are “landscape lenses” and I’m inclined to agree!

What’s your favourite lens for landscape photography?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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