Isolated Landscapes

In my previous post, “Intimate Spring Landscapes,” I showed how using an ultra-wide angle lens (14mm) can be used to create an up-close and personal view of a subject. The optics of this lens offers the ability to also capture more distant backgrounds and thus provide context to the intimate landscape. Now let’s compare these intimate landscapes with more isolated landscapes captured via a longer telephoto (70-200mm) lens.

California Poppies


Indian Paintbrush

I recently went back to Walk-On Beach where I shot the previous post’s images and reshot some of those scenes at 200mm. The first three images above show how this lens can capture an intimate landscape by isolating the subject from the broader landscape. The narrower field of vision at 200 mm also limits how much background can be captured and included in the image. I like these images; however they lose much of the broader context captured in the 14mm images. But you can’t beat a longer telephoto lens for being able to isolate a subject.

Brown Pelicans


In the last two images above, subject isolation was my goal. The brown pelicans were pretty far away but were easily brought in close at 200mm. There was really no need to bring in much background beyond the pelicans into the image. In fact this image was cropped from the original image in order to isolate this subject further. The last image is where this lens really shines. I captured this small lizard from a good distance away and yet was able to isolate and frame the lizard in its natural habitat. I would love to have been able to capture this guy at 14mm, in a nice intimate landscape, but I’m sure that there’s no way he would have allowed that to happen.

A Note on Brown Pelicans

The Brown Pelican was delisted from the Endangered Species list in 2009. However recent reports have shown that breeding numbers this year have shown a sharp decline. This decline may be due to a building El Nino this year but this decline was initiated prior to the onset of the El Nino. This is troubling news for this species. These are incredibly beautiful birds, up close or in “Squadron” formation cruising along the beach. I offer these and other images here on my blog to draw attention to the many life forms that make up our coastal environment. My hope is that if the science behind environmental protection is not compelling enough, that the innate beauty of these fragile resources might make a difference. Hope springs eternal!


Equipment: Nikon D3s; Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens, monopod

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