When you walk through Tunnel View in Yosemite, when you step on the rim of Grand Canyon, when you hike up Angels Landing in Zion, you get overwhelmed by this vast expansive view and you maybe tempted to shoot the whole thing. So you reach out to your widest angle lens and shoot.
While taking a wide shot is really satisfying, what a mature photographer would do after that is to isolate sections of this wide landscape, reaching out to the longest lens and start shooting.
The reason is simple, you get a different perspective, and more intimate to the subject that you are shooting.
As an example, I was in Yosemite once on a family trip, no predefined shooting plans. It was midday and light was harsh, the tunnel view looked okay but a surprise was waiting on Bridalveil Falls. I managed to get a unique shot of nicely layered rainbow colors across the waterfall.
Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park - 67mm
Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park - 560mm
Another example would be Delicate Arch. The arch has a beautiful and vast background with snow capped mountain range, canyon behind it, sandstone boulders on the side, but I wanted to get intimate with the Delicate Arch itself. That led to the following composition.
Moonlit Delicate Arch, Arches National Park - 18mm
Winter sunset at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park - 70mm
The last example is Yosemite high country. I was lucky to witness many amazing sunsets in Yosemite, but this one was very memorable. Clouds gathered on top of mountains and were exploding in colors, very high saturated colors. While the view included the famous Half Dome, one particular cloud shape got my attention, so I reached for my longest lens and isolated this cloud from the rest of the scene.
Yosemite Sunset, Yosemite National Park - 32mm
Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park - 85mm
So whenever you are at a grand view, always think about the smaller picture, get intimate with the landscape features, and grab this long lens you have and start isolating parts of the scene.
Thanks for reading, happy shooting!