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Telephoto lenses are not quite as often used at their normal and wide counterparts, but they are capable of creating some of the most dramatic photos. The thing about telephoto lenses is that they lack versatility. They are often used to shoot a particular subject like a wild animal or football player. But in these situations, they are the best option for a lens, and even though the focal length is the only the only differentiating factor, it heavily affects the way in which you shoot compared to a wide or normal lens.
Shoot Wide Open
Whether you're shooting people, sports, or wildlife, one of the biggest advantages of a telephoto lens is its shallow depth-of-field. These lenses are great for creating a creamy blurred background the makes your subject pop. You can also produce some very nice bokeh when shooting wide open.
Use a Tripod
This is a fairly basic bit of knowledge, but it's an important one. Using a tripod can have a tremendously beneficial effect on your photos. The longer your telephoto lens is, the harder it will be to hand hold and the faster the shutter speed needs to be to avoid camera shake. Of course, moving a tripod around consumes a lot of valuable shooting time. But if you want tack sharp photos, then a tripod is definitely worth it.
Be Aware of Your Background
When using a telephoto lens, it's easy to forget the background. Oftentimes your focus will be the subject you're shooting. While the background may be out of focus, it still makes an impact on the photo. Think particularly about how your subject will look against the background. You will often want a nice contrast between the two so that they stand out. If you have dark subject and a dark background, they may blend together.
Having a telephoto lens does not give you an excuse to stand farther away. You want to take full advantage of the reach you have. Get in as close as you can to your subject without entering a dangerous position or scaring your subject off. Particularly in sports and wildlife photography, you want to fill the frame, and the closer you can get, the better.
Shooting subject with a telephoto lens at eye-level can often produce boring photos. However, a slight change in your perspective can make a big difference. Positioning your camera below the eye-level of your subject will work to make your subject look more grand. This technique is used heavily in sports and wildlife photography. Photos of athletes and animals tend to look more dramatic when being viewed from below. Having said that, if you're shooting birds, you'll want to get close to eye-level with them which mean you may have to find a higher place to shoot. The point here is to photograph your subject from a point-of-view that we don't normally see to make your image more interesting.
Image credit: seraphil / 123RF Stock Photo
Written by Spencer Seastrom