Improve your landscape photography through a quick and simple challenge; to notice the things around you! This challenge will push you to master your lenses and refine your vision.

Occasionally I like to ramp up the difficulty when I’m out photographing through a challenge that I’ve called, ‘‘Near, Far & Wide’. The goal of it is to purposefully increase my awareness of all levels of the landscape – being mindful of close up (NEAR), telephoto (FAR), and wide angle (WIDE) possibilities all during one photo shoot. This also serves to improve my future shoots considerably, honing my ability to see how my lenses see, and in staying fresh with my camera gear. It also has the added benefit of being helpful if you’re in a creative downturn. I recommend it for anybody of any skill level, no matter where you are at to improve your photography.


The requirement for completing this challenge is acquiring the best possible set of 3 photos in under an hour at any given location. The less familiar you are with the location, and the less visually impressive you think it is the better. Use whatever time frame works for you, just don’t exceed an hour. The catch is that your 3 images must all be of vastly different focal lengths. Experiment and move around, shoot lots, and narrow it down to the best three when reviewing at the end. Bonus points if the 3 photos form a cohesive set, or tell a story.

  • ‘NEAR’You must come away from the shoot with 1 photo of something close to you  (a close up shot of a subject in your immediate area. Macro lenses work well, as does the 35mm-200mm range on a full frame camera/24-130mm on a crop sensor).
  • ‘FAR’You must come away from the shoot with 1 photo of something very far away from you  (70mm-600mm range on a full frame camera/40-400mm on a crop sensor).
  • ‘WIDE’and you also must come away from the shoot with 1 photo of an expansive scene (12-35mm range on a full frame camera/8-24mm on a crop sensor).

Fitting these exact focal length ranges is not important. What is important before you start is defining what near, far and wide are to you with regards to your current lens set up. See some lens recommendations listed below.


Lens recommendations for completing the ‘Near, Far & Wide’ challenge are listed below (full frame and crop sensor options for Sony, Nikon & Canon);

  • CLOSE UP/MACRO – Sony 90mm macro (full frame), Sony 18-135mm (APS-C), Nikon 105mm macro (full frame), Nikon 18-140mm (APS-C), Canon 100mm macro (full frame), Sigma 17-70mm (Canon mount, APS-C).
  • TELEPHOTO – Sony 100-400mm (full frame), Sony 70-350mm (APS-C), Nikon 80-400mm (full frame), Nikon 70-300mm (APS-C), Canon 100-500mm (full frame), Canon 70-300mm (APS-C).
  • WIDE ANGLE – Sony 16-35mm (full frame), Sony 10-18mm (APS-C), Nikon 14-24mm (full frame), Nikon 10-20mm (APS-C), Canon 16-35mm (full frame), Canon 10-22mm (APS-C).


I find this challenge works well if you haven’t been out shooting for a while to quickly put yourself in a very observant & open frame of mind, a requirement for good landscape photography. Also try it if you feel uninspired, or if you find yourself of the mindset that there just aren’t any possible shots to be had at that current moment. Accept that you’re probably going to bomb the challenge, or at least a part of it because it’s not often that all levels of the landscape are going bananas…….but nobody will see the results. It’s purely to improve your future shoots.

The simple act of working with your camera, physically switching lenses, looking through them as you zoom in or out, and moving around to find something that will help you to complete the challenge ends up breaking down any barriers that you might have had. You might even find that one of your favourite photographs comes out of nowhere while doing this if you are lucky. Or you might notice something about the landscape that’s new to you that you are now motivated to explore further on future outings. All good things!


Here’s my most recent example of the challenge in practice from yesterday, April 5th, 2023:

I used up a full hour for it mostly because I was visiting an off trail location I had never been to before. Navigation, finding the path of least resistance & being watchful for any nearby wildlife took up my focus to and from the area. I highly recommend you do this photography challenge when you are visiting a new location as the time invested in it doubles as a scouting trip for potential future landscape photography opportunities.


I found after doing a couple of these self imposed ‘Near, Far & Wide’ challenges I get really motivated to be out photographing, and just a touch sharper when it comes to finding compositions & noticing small nuances in light and composition. It is a great tool for improving your photography and mastering your ability to see how your lenses see before you even get them out of the bag.

I’ve recently heard of a great example of how vlogging can improve your photography while out in the field. I believe the principle is the same. Being compelled in some way to actively, or intentionally, notice your surroundings.

What gets you out shooting and do you have any ways you like to work to actively improve your photography while out in the field? I would be interested to hear! Leave a comment and sign up to our mailing list below.