Although, as I said in a recent post, I'm most comfortable working within the short focal length range of a "normal" zoom, I think my favourite lens for when I want to have some fun is the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS. On an APS-C DSLR, the zoom range becomes the equivalent of a 110-480mm lens (in 35mm terms), which is quite some reach, but the built-in "image stabilisation" means that it's still a hand-holdable lens under most circumstances. You can really reach out and grab those interesting vignettes in a landscape that otherwise get overwhelmed by context. For example, this oak on campus has been catching my eye all week, as I take my morning coffee break in the Staff Club:
The long lens, used from a slightly elevated position, gets in amongst the branches in a way I could never achieve with my feet on the ground in front of its magnificent bulk. The foregrounding and isolation of decorative detail puts me in mind of the nineteenth century sketches of the likes of John Ruskin and Edward Lear. The flattening perspective of the telephoto lens comes in handy, too, for sculptural juxtapositions like this one:
Or it can compress the reflections in a campus window into something like a painter's canvas:
That two-dimensional look is something I always find attractive in a photograph. At heart, I suppose, I'm still a drawer and painter who uses photography.