Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Gadget Bag: Ultimate Landscape Accessories
Indispensable gear for a modern-day Ansel Adams to have in the field
Everyone needs a hat. Adams liked the Stetson Open Road. It probably won't make you a better photographer, but then again, it can't hurt.
The idea that you can fix everything in Photoshop is simply wrong. To get the best prints, start with the best exposure in the field. Glass filters are every bit as relevant today as they were when Adams attached a red filter to his camera and photographed Half Dome. Heliopan, Hoya, Kenko, Singh-Ray, Flashpoint, Schneider, B+W and other manufacturers all make a range of on-camera filters. You'll pay more for features like brass construction and various types of glass. Choose what you can afford, and make it a habit to keep them in your bag at all times.
National Parks Pass
At $80 per year, the National Parks Annual Pass may be the best bargain on the planet (seniors, military, the disabled and parks volunteers enter for free or at significant discounts). The pass covers the entrance fees at more than 2,000 federal recreation sites, including national parks, national wildlife refuges and land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Every nature photographer should have one. Adams would have.
Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2 gives digital landscape photographers a level of control over images that's vastly superior to a traditional darkroom. And one of the best aspects of the software is that it's intuitive to use. You can drop control points on the image to affect contrast and tonality in precise areas or globally, depending on the look you're trying to make. There are plenty of presets or you can go fully custom. You can use Silver Efex Pro 2 with any digital file, so whether you're shooting with a DSLR or making new high-res scans of your film archive, the software will work.
Nature photography always has been something of a solo activity. When you're wrapped up in the moment, searching for the perfect composition, seeking the ideal light, it's easy to lose your bearings and become lost. We've all become accustomed to using smartphones for communication and navigation, but the places for the best images are frequently out of cell range. A GPS isn't a luxury item; it's mandatory equipment. The DeLorme inReach takes the GPS a step further, allowing limited communication in addition to the usual GPS features. The inReach connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth (using a free app) and allows you to compose and send messages (up to 150 characters). You can use it in the event of an emergency or simply to let your loved ones know when to expect you for dinner. For the socially-minded, you also can post to Facebook and Twitter and to shared maps.
Ansel Adams was known to bring a lot of equipment with him into the field. At the time, he might not have been too worried about walking away from a loaded vehicle for a few hours while he sought the perfect vantage point. This is a different age, and one of the best ways to discourage thieves is to keep your gear under wraps as much as possible when it's in your car. The Flashpoint CS100 case is large, rugged and lightweight, and it doesn't scream "photo gear." You can use it as your bag of bags to transport all your gear in and out of your car at the end of the day, and during the day, it keeps any equipment that you leave in your car reasonably camouflaged. The Flashpoint CS100 has a rigid lexan core surrounded by closed-cell foam and hook-and-loop compatible fabric. You can customize the interior layout of the case simply by moving the dividers.
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