Our pro shares some tech­niques and kit tips, and rates two read­ers’ pho­tos

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Digital Camera World - - CONTENTS - Andrew James

Adding depth

I used a tele­photo for some land­scapes, they lack a sense of depth. How can I change this? Don­ald French

That is rather in the na­ture of a tele­photo lens: it flat­tens the per­spec­tive and draws ev­ery­thing in so sub­ject and back­ground are less

‘sep­a­rated.’ If you are shoot­ing por­traits, the back­ground blur is per­fect for mak­ing your sub­ject stand out and this cre­ates some sense of depth, but I know what you mean when it comes to tele­photo land­scapes. A wide-an­gle shot has more fore­ground in­ter­est, lead­ing to the mid­dle and then far dis­tance so these lay­ers build up that sense of depth you are re­fer­ring to.

I can think of some oc­ca­sions of us­ing a tele­photo lens when that sense of depth is pro­vided nat­u­rally. For ex­am­ple, the classic long-lens shot of re­ced­ing moun­tains, where the more dis­tant moun­tains are weaker in colour, con­veys depth and dis­tance. In art, this phenomenon is re­ferred to as aerial per­spec­tive and pain­ters will en­sure that dis­tant ob­jects are more muted than those nearer.

How­ever, we don’t al­ways have Mother Na­ture on our side, so I came up with this ex­am­ple land­scape photo that I shot with a tele­photo lens at 100mm. At the time I liked the way my tele­photo lens was pulling the church and the moun­tain be­hind to­gether, but I wanted some­thing in the fore­ground too. All I could see were some but­ter­cups on the hill­side nearby, so I lay flat on the ground and shot through them. I knew they’d drop out of fo­cus but the splash of yel­low would be good and the con­trast be­tween the out-of-fo­cus fore­ground and sharper mid­dle and dis­tance would pro­vide more depth.

I love pho­tograph­ing flow­ers and in­sects, but I would like to try an­i­mals too. Should I get a macro lens or go for some­thing dif­fer­ent? Craig West While a macro lens is a bril­liant in­vest­ment, es­pe­cially for your love of flow­ers and in­sects, it’s not re­ally go­ing to help you much when it comes to pho­tograph­ing big­ger an­i­mals and birds. I’d sug­gest that a macro lens is some­thing you think about sav­ing for in the longer run.

For now, I think you would be bet­ter off buy­ing a lens like the Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DX VR tele­photo zoom. On your Nikon DX-for­mat cam­era, Craig, this is equiv­a­lent to 82.5mm to 450mm, which will give you lots of ver­sa­til­ity when it comes to your var­ied na­ture pho­tog­ra­phy.

A macro lens isn’t the only op­tion for shoot­ing rel­a­tively small in­sects, like but­ter­flies, as a tele­photo lens will al­low you to get some great shots. You won’t be able to re­pro­duce the in­sect at life size: in­stead you’ll have to think about in­clud­ing some of the en­vi­ron­ment – but I much pre­fer in­sect shots where you have a sense of their sur­round­ings.

The Nikon 55-300mm also has VR, which will be use­ful in low light when shut­ter speeds have to drop; and it will be per­fect if you have your sights set on big­ger sub­jects like hares, deer or seals on the coast. That 450mm fo­cal length lets you sit back at a re­spect­ful dis­tance and still get great shots.

You don’t need to feel as you can’t evoke depth in your land­scapes just be­cause you’re us­ing a tele­photo. In this shot, ly­ing down to in­tro­duce some out-of-fo­cus but­ter­cups into the frame de­liv­ers a lay­ered ef­fect.

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