A few evenings ago, I was sitting at my computer when I looked outside and realized that the sunset was going to be especially beautiful. According to Siri, I had about an hour before the sun would set, which meant that I had to be in my Jeep within 5 minutes if I were to have any hope of finding a suitable location to shoot. It also meant that I had zero time to pack my gear. Instead, I grabbed whichever camera was free with whichever lens I had on. I didn’t even grab a camera bag. Just the camera, lens, filter pouch and tripod.
As it so happened, the camera I grabbed, the Sony a7R III, was ideal for landscape shooting. However, the lens that was mounted was my super-telephoto, the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM. I had been doing some troubleshooting with that lens and teleconverter earlier in the day and I was clearly too lazy to disassemble the rig, so that was the bed I had to sleep in. Don’t get me wrong. I love shooting landscapes with a superzoom, but I also enjoy having the option to go wider just in case I want to get a different composition. Fortunately, there was a way for me to have my cake and eat it too.
When it isn’t feasible for me to change to a wider lens—either due to lack of time, inclement weather or not packing the appropriate gear—I’m reminded of the creative opportunities afforded by shooting panorama brackets. Instead of spending time packing the gear I needed, I used it to get to my location with enough time to find a great vantage point while still having plenty of warm light. And, sure, while I certainly couldn’t fit my composition in a single horizontal frame, even at the lens’s widest focal length of 100mm, I could rotate the camera vertically and take the necessary brackets to stitch in post.
Obviously, this practice requires me to take, and store, more photos for any given composition, but the alternative of not getting the shot altogether is far less appealing. Plus, I get the added benefits of having a wide composition with very visually pleasing compression, thanks to the long focal length. I also end up with a much higher-resolution photo that’s brimming with image detail.
All of this is to say that you shouldn’t discount the ability to get a wide composition simply because you have a long lens mounted on your camera. A panoramic stitch can solve that problem quite easily!