Many photographers think wide angle lenses are necessary for landscape photography. When they want to pursue landscape photography, those are the lenses they buy. When others want to take up landscape photography, those are the lenses they recommend. When they head out to do landscape photography, those are the lenses they bring, and keep on their cameras.
This trend has perhaps become even more emphatic in recent years, as lens technology has made extreme wide angle lenses less expensive, and more common.
It’s true that wide angle lenses tend to work best for showing everything from right in front of your feet to the distant horizon, and up high into the sky, in one shot; and they also are generally better choices for getting both near subjects and far subjects within the depth of field. Choosing a wide angle lens for that kind of landsape photography is a good choice. I use wide angle lenses for landscape photography, often.
That said, I find it unfortunate that many people only think of those near-far shots when they think of landscape photos, and unfortunate that many limit their landscape making to near-far pictures with wide angle lenses. I use every focal length from extreme wide angles to extreme telephotos for my landscape photography. Scenes I want to photograph come in every size and distance – so I don’t limit myself to using just one kind of tool to make just one kind of landscape. In fact, I have no particular lens preferences for landscape photography, and use most of my lenses about equally for it. I don’t even prefer wide angles to telephotos for landscapes.
In my opinion, all focal lengths are good for landscape photography. I photograph distant scenes with “flattened” layers as much as I do near-far scenes which start right in front of me. Both wide angles and telephotos have their advantages. Wide angles are great when you want to show everything; telephotos are great when you want to pare down to the essential details. People often assume, when making photographs of a splendid scene, that showing as much as they can is best. However, it’s actually often best to exclude the extraneous details, increasing emphasis on the main elements of interest.
All focal lengths are good for landscape photography.
Photographed at 24 mm focal length
Photographed at 35 mm focal length
Photographed at 45 mm focal length
Photographed at 55 mm focal length
Photographed at 65 mm focal length
Photographed at 200 mm focal length
Photographed at 300 mm focal length
Photographed at 420 mm focal length
Photographed at 1,200 mm focal length
Consider all of your lenses landscape lenses, and photograph landscapes with whatever lenses you have.
All pictures and text are © Mike Spinak, unless otherwise noted. All pictures shown are available for purchase as fine art prints, and are available for licensed stock use. Telephone: (831) 325-6917.