Telephotos for Landscape Photography

I typically shoot landscape/scenic photos with pretty wide lenses (somewhere between 10mm and 40mm), but in this case the stand of trees I wanted to isolate was a bit too far away for lenses of that category.  Having a lens arsenal that includes a medium telephoto helped eliminate most of the distracting foreground foliage, and halted the need for walking through mud and swampy areas.

Trees in the Fog

Morning Fog at Big Cypress

This particular shot was taken with a tripod mounted Tamron 70-300mm VC lens, zoomed to 200mm.

Nature Photography in “bad light”

I think there really is no such thing as “bad light” in nature photography, as long as you are able to think outside of the box.  This recent photograph of an Airplant in Florida was taken while the sun was fairly high, and also a bit behind the subject.  Typically, this is an undesirable ambient light angle as the illumination of a subject is very uneven and will cause high variations in dynamic range, which in turn will probably blow out some of the highlights and block up the shadows.

Florida Airplant

Manatee River Airplant at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

I find this lighting angle difficult to utilize, and implausible in some scenarios.  However, it can yield some nice dramatic photos with a little experimentation.  In this instance, the sunlight has “kissed” or highlighted mainly only my target subject but caused most of the frame to fall into shadow.  Perfect for an isolating effect.

Solutions…

I know this is a ridiculous looking photo, but this is actually my own image, and a setup that I do use from time to time. A great amount of my nature photography is wildlife based, and wielding a super telephoto lens around through the woods and wetlands means having a dedicated tripod with a heavy duty head. That is fine and good, but I hate being limited while I’m exploring, and feel a bit naked not having an easily tripod mountable macro or all-in-one lens to fall back on too.

Stacked DSLRs

Super Telephoto and Macro Lens Solution

Pictured here are two of my Canon DSLRs, the top camera with my Tamron 90mm VC macro lens is bound to my Canon 500mm f/4 setup via a Gorillapod Focus (portable tripod). Granted there are plenty of opportunities for the whole combination to swing and sway, yet I am still able to get some macro shots from the top camera using low ISO speeds for maximum image quality.

Note that I don’t walk around with them bound together like this, as it isn’t entirely stable. Generally I sling the big tripod + big lens over my shoulder, while wearing the smaller camera with Gorillapod connected to it around my neck. I connect the 2 setups only when I am going to shoot with the top camera.  It ain’t foolproof and it ain’t pretty, but sometimes it does what I need it to do.

If you have a better solution, please let me know!