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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gear Up For The National Parks

Accessories to help you make the most out of any national parks shooting excursion

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Cokin P-Series
Memory Cards And Storage
Take plenty of memory cards. If you shoot high-megapixel RAW images or HD video, you want fast, high-capacity cards—at least 300X for CompactFlash and Class 6 for SDHC speed-wise, and 4 GB or greater capacity. If you shoot JPEG images, and don’t do videos, slower, lower-priced cards will do. Memory card tip: When you get down to 25 to 30 shots left on a card, put in a new card so you won’t lose count and run out of memory at a decisive moment; you always can put the first card back in if you need those last few shots later. Popular memory card manufacturers include ATP, Delkin, Hoodman, Kingston, Lexar, PNY, SanDisk and Transcend. For more about memory cards, see Gadget Bag: SDHC Memory Cards in the March 2010 issue of OP and Toolbox: Memory Cards in the January/February 2010 issue of Digital Photo; the articles are also available on the magazines’ websites.

A multimedia storage viewer (MSV) is also helpful—a portable hard drive or flash memory storage unit into which you can download the images from your memory cards each evening, freeing the cards for reuse the next day. You also can view your JPEG and RAW images and videos on the MSV’s built-in LCD monitor (Epson’s P-7000 offers a category-best four-inch LCD). Some devices allow you to read EXIF data and histograms, and even add and play back voice memos with images. Popular MSV manufacturers include Argraph, Digital Foci, Epson, JOBO, Sanho and Wolverine. For additional information, see Gadget Bag: Field Storage in the January/February 2010 issue or on the OP website.

Tiffen Circular Polarizer
Photo Filters
No landscape photographer would be without a polarizing filter. A polarizer can eliminate unwanted reflections from nonmetallic surfaces like water, increase saturation of colors and deepen a blue sky so white clouds stand out dramatically. It also can serve as a 1.5-stop neutral-density (ND) filter when you want to make longer exposures. If your DSLR has a TTL meter or autofocus, you’ll need a circular polarizer, which is more costly than a standard linear polarizer, but allows for proper metering and AF operation.

Singh-Ray ND
ND filters cut down the amount of light entering the lens without otherwise altering it, handy when you want to use a long exposure time to blur a waterfall or river rapids. A graduated ND filter is half clear and half neutral-density, helpful when you want to cut down the brightness of a sky to record detail in it and a dark foreground. (Digital photographers can handle high-contrast situations even more efficiently using HDR techniques.) ND and graduated ND filters come in various strengths. A landscape pro will have a full set of grads, including hard-edged and soft-edged varieties, but a two-stop, soft-edged grad ND filter is a good single-unit starting point.

A clear or UV filter can serve to protect the front lens element from the elements. If you shoot in black-and-white, you also want yellow, red and green filters. The yellow filter compensates for film’s relative oversensitivity to blue, so images will look “normal,” the red really darkens a blue sky so white clouds stand out, and the green brightens foliage. (You also can use the red and green filters to provide separation between red flowers and green leaves; the red filter renders the red flowers lighter and the green leaves darker, while the green filter does the opposite.) Good filter brands include B+W, Cokin, Formatt, Heliopan, Hoya, Kokonor, Lee, Singh-Ray and Tiffen.


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