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07-16-2008, 08:45 AM   #1
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What Focal Length for Landscapes?

My area is mostly rolling prairie. If I use a short focal length, I have a choice of too much sky, or too much foreground, unless I crop the photo. If I use a longer focal length, I am not as happy with the perspective. Any tips? Most of the pictures I take are of "things". In my 40 or so years of photography I have never been great at scenery, and when it comes to photos of people I am just plain terrible.

07-16-2008, 09:16 AM   #2
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Try to find something to fill your foreground when you use a wide to ultra wide angle lens. It makes all the difference between "so-so" and "wow".The filler can be just about anything (as long as it "melt" in the picture) like a rock or flower outcrop...
07-16-2008, 09:45 AM   #3
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I was going to say a longer focal length might work really well for that kind of shot, tending to layer various subjects in the frame.

Ultrawides need to be used carefully since as you say, you might fit too much, and if you adjust the ratio of land to sky by tilting, you get a bad tilt appearance to your photos.

I tend to the 14-24 range, or 135mm+ range.
07-16-2008, 09:45 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
My area is mostly rolling prairie. If I use a short focal length, I have a choice of too much sky, or too much foreground, unless I crop the photo. If I use a longer focal length, I am not as happy with the perspective. Any tips? Most of the pictures I take are of "things". In my 40 or so years of photography I have never been great at scenery, and when it comes to photos of people I am just plain terrible.
Have look at the Elk River photos on the Flickr site in my signature. Pick the ones you like and examine them to see what you like and don't like about my shots. You will notice (as flyer mentioned) that there is invariably something in the near foreground. That helps to give a sense of depth to the image. On the prairies, a fence post, a shrub or tree, an interesting looking rock or similar can help.

07-16-2008, 11:46 AM   #5
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Thanks for all the tips. The "something in foreground" rule is one I have been told before, now if I could just remember it when I'm taking the shot.
07-16-2008, 01:01 PM   #6
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Hi Parallax

Allowing for the fact that the Sigma 10-20mm wide-zoom is a superb lens in it's own right, my primary reason for purchasing this particular optic is the coverage afforded by it's indispensable zooming ability.

Owners of fixed focal-length prime lenses may often claim a discernable advantage as far as the n'th-degree of ultimate picture quality is concerned.

Nevertheless, the sheer flexibility that this Sigma's zoom offers me whilst I'm in the process of "framing" a landscape or interior just has to be experienced to be believed.

I've simply lost count of the number of occasions where I've needed to either zoom in or out slightly to perfectly "frame" a photo and NO fixed-prime lens can do that.

Don't forget that when using a fixed lens, there will obviously be situations when you either need to walk backwards or forwards a considerable distance in order to compose a shot. However, if that process entails inadvertently tumbling off the edge of a sheer cliff, then I'll take the option of a wide-zoom ANYDAY.....LOL !

For example, I spent an enjoyable five days exploring the island of Sicily in April and some of the dramatic scenery there is quite astonishing. The Sigma coped admirably and not once did I lose a shot because I didn't have the ideal lens handy.

Best regards
Richard
07-16-2008, 01:07 PM   #7
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With a wide angle go close to the object of "desire" and the shoot in a 30ish degree angle. This might help you.
07-16-2008, 05:00 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Parallax Quote
My area is mostly rolling prairie. If I use a short focal length, I have a choice of too much sky, or too much foreground, unless I crop the photo. If I use a longer focal length, I am not as happy with the perspective. Any tips? Most of the pictures I take are of "things". In my 40 or so years of photography I have never been great at scenery, and when it comes to photos of people I am just plain terrible.


I hardly do landscape. But if I do, I will only do with my Zenitar 16mm FE. You can grab the front and the infinity in focus as well. Then I deal with the cropping or defishing later on at home



Jerusalem






Eaton Centre, Toronto






Daniel

07-16-2008, 05:05 PM   #9
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My best landscape pictures have been taken with lenses very close to normal focal length. My goto lens in 4x5 is the 210mm, which is a very moderate telephoto (similar FOV as the 50mm lens on a Pentax DSLR).
07-16-2008, 06:04 PM   #10
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I've found that shots of fairly mudane scenery can be quite nice if taken soon after sunrise or just before sunset. With the sun to the left or right of the shot, the extended shadow patterns can be the shot's best feature. Also, if you're lucky enough to be out as storm clouds are gathering in the late afternoon, position the sun directly behind you and wait for the sunlight to break through the clouds, there's always a stunning light effect with sunlit scenery against steely grey clouds.
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