I mainly do landscape photography shooting with a wide lens. Sometimes it is useful to use a longer lens to pick out details and simplify the composition. I have recently been watching youtube videos from photographers about going out and shooting with just a long lens to force yourself to focus on different sorts of shots. So, on Saturday morning I went hiking at Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge and one of my goals was to only shoot long. I also took some waterfall shots with a wide lens, but that is a different subject.
So, I attached my 70-200mm to the camera and started hiking. With such wide-open landscapes in front of you, it is kind of hard to pick out details that would fit with a long focal length. This is definitely something that I am not practiced with, so these may not be my best photos of the year.
My first idea was this little bird perched on a branch amid tall golden grasses in the dawn light. This image is a bit of a crop and I was unable to get as close as I wanted without spooking the bird. My goal was the silhouette of bird and the golden brown grass against the sky. Perhaps it works, but I could have used a bigger bird.
I next came across a cactus through the trees catching the morning sun on its needles. I have seen this effect several times and it always looks better to my eye than it does in a photo. The cactus has almost a golden glow outlining it, but this does not really seem to translate well in a photo. Next time I will also schedule a deer to go jumping through the scene as I hit the shutter.
There is an unusual looking hill in the NWR that I wanted to try a few shots of as well. It is almost a hill upon a hill and it always seems a bit out of place to me. There were also some low clouds in the distance.
This composition seemed a bit boring to me so I tried to incorporate a tree or two and get down lower to get more of the long grass in the foreground.
You may notice that the focal lengths continue to drop. It is really hard to force yourself to shoot long focal lengths for landscapes. I had hope to use the depth-of-field compression to my advantage for some shots, but I wasn’t able to pull that off.
This part of the trail is called the Indian Grass trail and finding myself amid the tall golden grasses in the early morning light, I had to squat down and try to get a low perspective from the trail as I really enjoy the long grasses in the morning sunlight.
This was probably my favorite shot from the outing as it makes me want to go hiking down the trail around the curve. It was shot at 40mm focal length, which is not wide at all, so you can see I didn’t stick with my long focal-length plan the entire hike.
I did enjoy the golden brown grasses along the trails, but found them difficult to portray in a photograph. Perhaps some colors need to be experienced first hand. As always, it is nice to get out and alone on a cool morning with my camera. The stream and little waterfall are just down the path near the distant trees.
And this photo gets back to 24mm, where I seem to want to shoot. I will try again next time for detail shots. It is good to reach out of your comfort zone so that you see things with a different eye. I think that next time, I will leave the rest of my lenses behind and just take the long lens and take more time working details.
Thanks for reading.