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Photo Of The Day: Creating A Compressed Frosty Forest Landscape With A Telephoto Zoom

Tom Kingsford (@tomkingsford) is an accomplished traveler, explorer and photographer who works tirelessly to capture the magic of our natural world. Specializing in landscape, travel and adventure photography, Tom creates powerful images emphasized by wild landscapes and nature's vivid display. Dozens of brands, travel organizations and media outlets have featured Tom's work, and we’ve featured the Sony gear he uses for his work in his What’s In My Bag article. He believes deeply in collaboration, community, and sharing this beautiful Earth we all call home. We saw his Alpha Universe Profile and connected with him to learn more about how he captured this frosty forest landscape with his Sony α7R III and Sony 70-200mm f/4 G lens. Wide-angle lenses are often used to showcase the grandeur of a scene. To create a different look, Tom used a telephoto. The long focal length compressed the scene within the frame to make an image that highlights the textures and monochromatic color palette. See his story behind the shot below and create your own Alpha Universe Profile HERE for your chance to be featured on AlphaUniverse.com.

Landscape photographer Tom Kingsford shares the story behind creating this frosty forest landscape with his Sony α7R III and a lightweight Sony telephoto-zoom.


Photo by Tom Kingsford. Sony α7R III. Sony 70-200mm f/4 G. 1/120-sec., f/8, ISO 200

The Scene

Throughout 2020 travel was pretty much shut down, and thus far, into 2021 not much has changed. As the pandemic’s impact has dragged on, it has become more important than ever to explore the magic that surrounds each of us where we live, in our neighborhoods, communities and local parks. The challenge to revive our sense of adventure here at home has been an exciting one. With winter upon us, I was very much excited about getting out into the mountains to capture some of the magic winter scenes that grace my hometown of Boulder, CO. This year however, has been abnormally dry, with very little snow. Finally, we had some snow in the forecast, so I readied my gear and prepared for a sunrise shoot in the foothills just a few minutes drive from my house.

After waking at 4:45am, I made a cup of tea, grabbed my cold weather gear and headed out the door. I arrived at my location and hiked for another 40 minutes in the dark to reach this overlook. The sky was so dark, I really couldn’t tell what the conditions would be. I set up and waited… for the sun to rise along the Eastern horizon. As morning came, the snow had draped a delicate blanket across the mountaintops in every direction. When I was done shooting the sunrise, I noticed the trees covered in a coating of pure white. I walked, in search of a perfect frame, for quite some time until I found the alignment I wanted, the result is this photo…

Camera Gear & Settings

I created this photograph using the Sony α7R III and the Sony 70-200mm f/4 G. I wanted to utilize the full zoom capacity of this lens to isolate the trees and create some compression within the scene. The final capture was taken at 200mm zoom. 


Tom’s setup.


Once I found the scene I was looking for, I swapped my lens and began the process of framing. At this stage in the morning, it was now light enough for me to shoot with no tripod. I leaned out along a small outcropping of rocks and was able to snap this frame. My settings were 1/120-sec., f/8 and ISO 200.


As for post-processing, this one took very little effort. After getting home and looking at the shot on my computer monitor, I was very happy with the result, straight out of camera. The compression I was hoping for created a nice frame filled with nothing but snow covered pines, just as I had envisioned. I tweaked the white balance slightly, added some clarity and I was done.

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