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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

Labels: Gear
This Article Features Photo Zoom

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.

RICHARD BERNABE (www.richardbernabe.com)
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.

Timer Remote/Intervalometer: This is more than just a remote release cable to mitigate camera shake during exposures in the "danger zone" (0.5 to 2 seconds, when the camera is most vulnerable to camera shake). An intervalometer can be programmed for specific shutter speed times in Bulb mode, as well as a precise number of consecutive exposures. For long exposures in low-light conditions and night photography, this is an invaluable piece of equipment for me.

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.

SEAN BAGSHAW (www.OutdoorExposurePhoto.com)
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.

Coffee: Perhaps my biggest photography ritual is morning coffee. Like so many outdoor photographers, I'm often up at very dark, cold hours of the morning. Whether in my truck camper or in my tent, I arrange my bed so I can fire up the stove while still in my sleeping bag. By the time the water boils, my brain is coming out of the fog and anticipating the first sip. Holding a warm travel mug of coffee in my hand as I hike into the dark, looking forward to the sunrise, is a wonderful feeling. I've had my insulated stainless-steel travel mug for years. It's dented and scratched and fits my hand like a glove. It keeps my coffee hot as I hike and throughout the sunrise shoot. When empty, the mug fits neatly into a side pocket of my camera pack where it waits for a refill back at camp.

Pop-Up Camper And Tent: I do my best photography when I immerse myself in it for several days or weeks at a time. Having comfortable and reliable living quarters on multiple day trips is essential for being well rested and relaxed enough to focus on photography. When I can drive to locations, my pop-up camper, by All Terrain Campers, on the back of my truck is a minimal, but very comfortable home away from home. Now that I'm in my 40s, having a bed, stove, sink, fridge, lights and solar panel, as well as being able to stand up, really beats those days when I'd just curl up in the backseat of my car. When I go into the backcountry, I take a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent.


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