I've just added a new instructional tip page to my below website that explains how to use simple trigonometry with topographic maps to calculate what elements in landscapes may be within the field of view of given photographic lenses. On my below homepage, select the "Tips, Tools, Information" sub-page link at right page top. Then select the "Calculating Photographic Subject Angle of Views in Landscapes" link.

Most photographers planning to explore destinations they are not familiar with do not perform much if any analysis before a trip about what they might be able to see from given locations or what lenses might be required. They just drive or hike somewhere and when they arrive, evaluate the scene before them for compositions of interest then select an appropriate lens to accomodate the given field of views. Maybe trying several, seeing how the scene looks through each lens. For most situations this style of discovery process works fine. However as time constraints increasingly bare on that effort, there may arise a need to have already evalutated some parameters before a trip in order to work more efficiently. Although I haven't over the years kept up on all the popular yearly "how to" landscape photography books one sees on bookstore shelves, none of those I have perused mention this subject and in fact have little to say about advantages of topographic map use.

The above 4x5 Provia 100F image taken this summer with my 300mm Nikkor, is one of the Velma Lakes in Desolation Wilderness with Lake Tahoe in the background. It is an example of one image I captured where I had done such a field of view analysis before a trip to an area I had never been to, then hiked up to this approximate location where indeed the calculated viewpoint of scene elements were visible. There I further refined the exact spot for my tripod position with considerations of smaller scale landscape elements as blocking trees.

Years ago when I already had a huge pile of well used, rather beaten up USGS topographic maps from long years of backpacking and hiking, I had to chuckle upon reading Galen Rowell's account of how during his prime peak bagging years, he had covered the walls and ceilings of one of his rooms with topo maps. Given his intellect, I always knew I wasn't doing anything radically new with my map planning and that there were likely other hard core landscape photographers that did likewise. Many of my own maps are pencil red marked with pointing arrows at prospective shooting locations that is just another process I use to more efficiently and productively work in the field. ...David