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Tips & Tutorials >> All Tips & Tutorials

Telephoto Landscapes: Contrasting Stillness with Movement

Using a telephoto lens for landscape photography can help you to close in on remarkable observations that might otherwise remain unnoticed—such as the contrast between the solid, ummoving rocky waterfall wall and the movement of the water that flows down it. Landscape photographer GOTO AKI shares some pointers for taking similar shots. (Reported by: GOTO AKI, Digital Camera Magazine)

Slow shutter close up of waterfall

EOS 5D Mark III/ EF70-200mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 187mm/ Aperture-priority AE (f/11, 2 sec)/ ISO 50/ WB: 4,000K


1. Don’t just look at the water, but also the static objects around it

Waterfalls and other moving water bodies provide the perfect opportunity for slow shutter photography. Here’s a tip to make your shot even more unique: Don’t just pay attention to the water, but also to the static objects around it. If you place your focus on a static object in the frame, such as a rock, the stillness of the object will contrast with and draw attention to the water movement.


2. Increase impact by simplifying the composition

In the main shot, I kept viewers’ attention on the moving water by excluding tree branches and other unnecessary elements from the frame. Using a telephoto lens not only made this easier, but also allowed me to close in on the details.

Also see: Professional Composition Techniques (3): Making Good Use of Lenses

Tip: Look for lines and zoom in on them

Wide-angle view of waterfall and surroundings

There was a part of the waterfall where the angle of the water flow changed to flow diagonally (shown in blue above), and that caught my attention. I zoomed into that section, and, at 187mm, obtained a good close-up of the structures that changed the direction of the water.

Also see: Designing and Composing Waterfall Photographs: A Visual Approach

Discover what else a telephoto lens can do for landscapes in:
Creating a Captivating Scene with Telephoto Leading Lines
Telephoto Macro Technique: An Ordinary Leaf Gets the Limelight


3. Remember to prevent camera shake!

A slow shutter increases the chances of camera shake, and using a long lens increases it even further. If the still element in your image is blurred, the contrast with the moving water will be much less obvious, which defeats the purpose.

To prevent camera shake when you shoot, you could:
- Use the 2-second self-timer.
- Use a tripod* and a release cable/the remote shooting function on the Canon Camera Connect app.
- (If using a DSLR camera) Shoot with the mirror locked up to prevent internal vibration.

When using a tripod, external factors could also cause camera shake. These include:
- Strong wind
- Unstable ground, such as if your tripod is in moving water
- Ground vibration from heavy machinery, nearby roads, or, depending on the floor, even joggers

For this shot, I made sure that there were no vehicles travelling down the nearby road when I released the shutter.

Note this: Depending on the lens model, the tripod and the location, turning off the Image Stabilizer might achieve better results.


With up to 8-stops’ in-body image stabilisation, the EOS R5 and EOS R6 make slow shutter shots easier even when shooting by hand! Find out more in:
Why the EOS R5 is My Ideal Camera for Landscape Photography

Love waterfalls? Here are more tips and ideas for photographing them:
Picture Style Techniques to Level Up Your Landscape Photography
Waterfall Photography: Accentuating Your Photo with a Rainbow


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Born in 1972 in Kanagawa Prefecture and graduated from Sophia University and Tokyo College of Photography. Goto published a photo collection work titled "LAND ESCAPES" and is also actively engaged in works such as “water silence” an installation that merges photographs with videos.


Digital Camera Magazine

Digital Camera Magazine

A monthly magazine that believes that enjoyment of photography will increase the more one learns about camera functions. It delivers news on the latest cameras and features and regularly introduces various photography techniques.
Published by Impress Corporation