Using Mid-Range Zoom Lenses for Nature Photos with a Unique Look (VIDEO)

The first thing most landscape photographers do upon reaching a location is pull out their favorite wide-angle lens. In the past we've suggested giving telephotos a try to create images with a different look, and in the video below you see how a mid-range zoom lens can also create a unique look.

Instructor Martin Castein is a London-based pro specializing in landscape and portrait photography who often posts tutorials on composition, lighting and other important techniques. In this 10-minute episode he explains how to create a different look by shooting with a mid-range lens like a 24-70mm or 24-105mm zoom.

You'll learn how lenses in this focal range require a different approach to both camera settings and composition. Castein also demonstrates the benefits of using side lighting whenever possible to "bring shape into the picture."

Castein captures several images of a shipwreck on the beach, beginning at 24mm before zooming further and further into the scene while retaining the barren boat as the key object in the shot. You'll see how focal length alters the look of the scene by dramatically changing compression, the scale of distant objects like mountains in the background, and other key imaging characteristics.

The 24mm focal length results in an expansive view, with the shipwreck appearing rather small within the frame. He then zooms to 35mm and the perspective is significantly different—eliminating some featureless areas of the scene. And the both the boat and distant mountains have appreciably increased in size.

Castein continues to zoom in small increments and by the time he reaches 85mm it a totally different shot that's far more eye-catching from foreground to background. At this point lens compression adds a very imposing look to the shipwreck. It's counterproductive to move in any closer with this particular scene, because the top of the boat gets cropped out of the frame.

Now that Castein has illustrated his point, he moves on to a few helpful tricks for refining composition and exposure with whatever focal length you decide to use. As you'll see, a simple tweak in one direction or the other can make a significant difference in your results.

The last half of the lesson is devoted to the spectacular results you can expect to achieve, regardless of focal length, if you shoot from a camera position in which your key subject is lit from the side. You'll learn how this approach accentuates the shape of the shipwreck and really separates it from surrounding areas within the frame.

This occurs because one side of the boat is bathed in warm sunlight while the other is in shade. Castein's instructional YouTube channel is full of tips and tricks for avid landscape photographers, so be sure to pay a visit.

We also recommend checking out the recent tutorial we posted with another accomplished pro, explaining why increasing a camera's ISO setting can greatly improve the impact of your landscape photographs.