Tuesday, March 25, 2014
It’s More Than The Camera
See what enables and inspires the best landscape photographers to stay out shooting and create their powerful photos
We asked a number of top landscape photographers about their essential gear—the equipment they always want to have with them—for doing their work. In addition to equipment like lenses and tripods, we were particularly interested to know what non-photo gear these talented photographers consider to be necessary for their photography, as well as their main sources of inspiration. The answers here give you a sense of what the very best rely on to get their incredibly evocative landscape photos.
LEE Big Stopper 10-Stop ND Filter: As a photographer who really enjoys the ethereal look of super-long exposures, the LEE Big Stopper is a filter I carry with me every time I venture afield. Whether it's turning raging seas into foggy stillness or blurring slow-moving clouds, the Big Stopper is indispensable to this landscape photographer.
Photoshop: Okay, I'll say it, even if nobody else dares to do so. Photoshop is absolutely essential when it comes to artistic interpretation of a photographic scene. This is particularly true for landscape photographers. Exposure blending has replaced graduated ND filters because the process does a better job of re-creating the dynamic range that the eye sees. Focus stacking allows us to attain extreme depth of field without incurring resolution-robbing diffraction at small apertures. And Photoshop can help re-create the color and drama of an outdoor experience that we, the photographer, saw and felt so that our viewers can vicariously experience it, as well.
16-35mm Zoom: I really like my current camera and assortment of lenses, but if I had to choose the single piece that has helped make some of my favorite images, it would be the Canon 16-35mm ƒ/2.8L II lens. The lens is very sharp for a zoom and has a wonderful wide-angle range. I often compose my near-far perspective landscapes at the 16mm focal length. The edges of the frame have more sharpness and less vignetting than other wide-angle zooms I've owned. I find I can use very small apertures for extreme depth of field while still maintaining good image clarity. The large 82mm diameter bezel allows me to use a regular-thickness polarizer without it showing up in the corners of images taken at 16mm; 16mm lenses with 77mm diameters require a special thin polarizer to avoid this problem. As a bonus, when stopped down to ƒ/22, it gives one of the cleanest and most pleasing sunstars of any lens out there. In addition to creative wide-angle landscapes and cool sunstars, at ƒ/2.8 this lens also makes a very good lens for photographing the night sky. The 16-35mm is the one lens that has made it possible to capture some of my most creative and challenging compositions.
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