The next time you head into Glacier National Park with your DSLR, intent on capturing a few epic shots, don’t forget your zoom lens. Typically, when trying to capture scenic shots, most people will be kicking themselves for not bringing or renting a wider angle lens. Everything is so huge in Glacier that you just can’t have a wide enough lens to frame it all in. There is definitely a use for your wide angle, but there are other options.
It’s always smart to bring your telephoto along in hopes of capturing some up-close and personal shots of the incredible wildlife Glacier has to offer, but don’t put it away after the mountain goat moves out of view. Keep it out and zoom in on some shots of the scenery. There is nothing like the elation of experiencing Glacier’s majesty first hand and up close, either driving or hiking. Have you noticed that once you’re back home and showing off where you went on vacation, you end up saying, “The pictures don’t do it justice. You just have to be there.” With your wide angle lens all those huge mountains will shrink down and lose their awe. Your telephoto will make those mountains feel as big as they are, in person. It’s not always easy to find the room to accommodate those longer lenses (200mm, and up) but once you start looking for those shots, you’ll be amazed at how many opportunities are available. Try it. Just zoom in all the way and put the viewfinder up to your eye. Your first impulse is to zoom back to fit more scenery into your frame, but hold your camera up a bit longer and look around through the view finder. Try framing a single peak instead of several. It will open up a whole new world of imaging.
Portrait tip – This works for portraits too. Try this: Instead of zooming out (wide-angle) to make sure you get as much background in as you can, try zooming in (telephoto) and backing up (actually walking backwards) until your bff and the background fit in your frame. Don’t try to fit it all in. If your background is too blurry, try a smaller aperture. Can’t control the aperture manually? Adjust the ISO to a faster speed (higher number like 1,600) and that should help. This will give your images that larger-than-life perspective that you were trying for in the first place. Okay, so it’s the digital age, and you have thousands of pictures worth of room left on your card, so take both the wide angle shot and the telephoto. See if you don’t like the feel of the telephoto.