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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
CHUCK KIMMERIE (www.chuckkimmerle.com)
Tilt-Shift Lenses: I shoot a lot in areas that are quite flat, such as the Plains, therefore maximizing depth of field is very important. I shoot Nikon and have the 24mm, 45mm and 85mm lenses. Also, as these are manual-focus lenses, they force me to slow down a bit. Autofocus makes it all too easy to rush.

Loupe: I may consider my Hoodman loupe my second most important piece of gear, after the camera. It not only allows me to check critical focus, which is important when using tilt-shift lenses, but also to study the composition, tonality and potential problem areas in my photos.

Proust: I live by Marcel Proust's quote "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." I've made some of my strongest images in North Dakota and the Plains states, places not usually thought of as photographic destinations. While it has become a bit of a cliché, I firmly believe that amazing images can be found in the most reticent and quiet of landscapes. It has become popular for photographers to do destination photography—Zion, Arches, Antarctica, the Oregon Coast, etc.—but doing so actually inhibits creativity.

Microfiber Cloths: I carry four or five small microfiber cloths. They're great for cleaning lenses or camera eyepieces, and work very well absorbing errant water and raindrops that may get on the lens. Having many different ones allows me to always keep one that's clean and dry.

JIM SCHOEMAKER (www.jimshoemakerphotography.com)
Tripod: I use a Gitzo GT5561SGT carbon-fiber tripod. Doing landscape work requires a rock-solid platform to mount my camera on, and this tripod can support everything from my 35mm camera mounted with a 600mm ƒ/4 lens to my large-format view camera. It doesn't have a center column so I can collapse it to seven inches above the ground or extend it to nearly nine feet tall, which comes in handy not only in the studio, but in the field, as well. It seems like I'm always shooting on some ridiculously uneven ground or steep incline, and those long legs can extend to compensate for just about every type of terrain. The best part is, if I get lost in the wilderness, I can extend it to its full height, tie some pine branches to it and have a shelter for the night!

My iPod: My broad-brimmed Tilley hat and Asolo hiking boots are essential, of course, but it's my iPod that keeps me going. It goes everywhere with me. It keeps me awake on long drives through the middle of the night and gives me inspiration while I'm shooting. I have my ear buds in a lot when I'm shooting. When I first arrive on location, I like to listen to the natural sounds of the area, whether it's birds, insects, the wind through the trees, whatever. It helps give me a sense of the place, and after I feel comfortable with it, it's time to put on the music and select something appropriate for the subject. It could be rock 'n' roll, it could be classical. It's like adding a soundtrack to a movie. Plus, the ear buds act as a deterrent to the people who are constantly asking, "What lens is that?" I dislike talking about gear while I'm photographing.

Mountain Dew: It may kill me in the long run, but in the short term, it keeps my eyes open when I'm doing marathon drives. Last summer, I covered nine states, plus parts of Alberta, Canada, in just over three weeks. I put just shy of 11,000 miles on my truck. Considering that I'm shooting during sunrise, sunset and anytime the light is good, that leaves only the middle of the day or night to drive, and that leaves even less time for sleep. The sugar and caffeine prevent me from waking up with my truck upside down in a ditch.

IAN PLANT (www.ianplant.com)
Neutral-Density Filters: Long exposures are a great way of showing the world to people in a way that they don't typically see. During long exposures, moving elements of the scene, such as water, clouds or wind-blown foliage, take on abstract forms, and the result can be a dreamy look. I always carry 3-, 5- and 10-stop ND filters with me, depending on how much I need to slow down time. These give me the option of exposure times ranging from several seconds to several minutes.

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