Zoomscaping

Using a zoom lens to look over the top of Doan to Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.

Using a zoom lens to look over the top of Doan to Slieve Binnian in the Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland.

It’s understandable why wide views of big open spaces are so popular. In fact to get us right into the scene all the way from the in-focus foreground detail at our feet to the distant view it’s essential to use a wide-angle lens. But as many landscape amateurs and pros will affirm, taking along a telephoto zoom significantly extends our creative options. Picking out distant details while experimenting with focal lengths can add interest and drama to a shot.

When I first got into landscape photography I found myself switching to longer lengths quite often. Although it adds to the weight I’ve to lug around over rough steep terrain on skinny legs, I always carry a zoom that takes me to 300mm (35mm equivalent). Farther might be even better. Some time after I’d moved over from Canon to Fujifilm (though I still hanker for a 6D) I bought the Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

The Fujinon XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.

If you plod wearily around online you’ll discover that there are mixed views about this lens. Not that it matters much because let’s face it—there are mixed views on everything, often shot through with mind-numbing hair-splitting opinions. Recently I was on a forum where a Fujinon zoom lens got slated as being literally the worst Fujifilm produces, yet a few posts further down it was praised for its capabilities. So, pinch of salt!

The fact is that in my experience as a somewhat-hard-to-please amateur this stabilised Fujinon is very well constructed and has brought home really good handheld results, typically at ISO 400 or more. More than good enough for me then. And, zoomscaper that I am, I won’t head out into the landscape without it.

Now come on—why would anyone snap a stinking old sheep? It just added something to the composition of this shot of a passing bee. By the way, that’s Doan in the background. This small-scale detail, nominally sharpened, helps illustrate the resolving power of the Fujinon 55- 200mm. Is it good enough for your needs? Fujifilm X-E2, 1/2500, F4.6, 164mm (246mm equivalent), ISO 400.

Now come on—why would anyone snap a stinking old sheep? It just added something to the composition of this shot of a passing bee. By the way, that’s Doan in the background. The small-scale detail, which needs properly sharpened, helps illustrate the resolving power of the Fujinon 55-200mm. Is it good enough for your needs? Fujifilm X-E2, 1/2500, F4.6, 164mm (246mm equivalent), ISO 400.

If you’re new to outdoor photography and you’ve been concentrating on wide-angle shots of open spaces, maybe you could try experimenting with longer focal lengths. Find out how it suits your shooting style. I’ve discovered it really helps if I can include someone in the shot. Unfortunately, I prefer the place to myself and an early low sun. So in the summer months especially that sometimes means shooting a deserted landscape through the lingering mist. You can’t have everything.

To see Slieve Donard in the Mourne Mountains from the air click or tap HERE.

The shadowy bulk of Slieve Bearnagh not long after dawn.

The shadowy bulk of Slieve Bearnagh not long after dawn.

Slieve Bearnagh. I'm not sure about the processing on this one. But it was worth a go. The original is a little weak and was exposed with the rays of sunlight in mind.

Slieve Bearnagh. I’m not sure about the processing on this one. But it was worth a go. The original is a little weak and was exposed with the rays of sunlight in mind.

Slieve Bearnagh from Slieve Corragh.

Slieve Bearnagh from Slieve Corragh.

Snapped from the top of Cove someone starts his descent from Slievelamagan.

Snapped from the top of Cove someone starts his descent from Slievelamagan.

Hares' Gap from Cove.

Hares’ Gap from Cove.

Although shooting through a broad expanse of air in the mountains can sometimes degrade the quality of an image, software can now help where filters may have struggled with haze and mist in the past.

Although shooting through a broad expanse of air in the mountains can sometimes degrade the quality of an image, software can now help where filters may have struggled in the past with haze and mist.

Walkers make their way past a thin waterfall on the flank of Slieve Binnian.

Walkers make their way past a thin waterfall on the flank of Slieve Binnian.

It's tough enough walking and climbing in the mountains, but here's a runner making his way across the top of The Devil's Coachroad.

It’s tough enough walking and climbing in the mountains, but here’s a runner making his way across the top of The Devil’s Coachroad.

Climbers practising on a rockface. I normally shoot RAW+JPEG to hedge my bets. But while adjusting the ISO to 400 for a series of handheld zoom shots I accidentally shifted the Drive Dial to the Multiple Exposures setting. If you have the Fujifilm X-T1 you’ll know how easily this can happen. I got a message in the viewfinder telling me to “Try Again”. So for whatever reason I ended up with a single JPEG of my best shot—not that it mattered. It’s been enhanced and colour corrected.

Mount Errigal in County Donegal.

Mount Errigal in County Donegal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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