Five Pieces of Gear You Need for Landscape Photography

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It’s quite easy to become overwhelmed when choosing the right gear for your photography. Between the endless inventory of online stores and the barrage of gear reviews, how do you know what your buying is actually what you need? Whether you’re looking to shoot professional landscapes or simply want to improve your outdoor photo skills, below you’ll find examples of the most commonly used pieces of equipment by landscape photographers.

1. Tripod
This is an obvious choice, but many photographers still overlook this important piece of equipment. The top excuse I hear is “I shoot during the daytime – what do I need a tripod for?” Slow shutter speeds are not just caused by low-light situations. When working with landscapes, you will probably use a small aperture often – which means that the amount of light that enters your camera becomes less and less as you increase your f/stop. It’s not uncommon to have a borderline shutter speed when shooting in the f/16 range – even under direct sunlight – so a tripod is needed to help keep your images sharp, crisp, and free of camera blur.

After the Storm

Photo by Christopher O’Donnell

2. Remote Cable Release
A huge part of capturing beautiful landscapes is being able to keep your camera steady – whether handheld or on a tripod. When you press your shutter button down, small vibrations can easily shake your camera enough to give you a blurry photo – even when the camera itself is mounted properly. The remote cable release allows you to take photos without actually touching your camera, which will ensure that your camera is as stable as possible.

Remote cable releases also work fantastic for long exposures – the ones that extend beyond 30 seconds. When working in bulb mode, your holding down your shutter for a very long period of time, which can become tiresome quickly. With your remote cable, you can lock the shutter button in place and walk away from your camera during exposure – very handy, especially if you’re in an awkward position.

Autumn Trees

Photo by Christopher O’Donnell

3. Filters
When working with landscapes, you’ll find many instances where you’ll want to improve your colors or alter your exposure. Filters are a huge part of any landscape photographer’s gear – whether their effects are replicated in Photoshop or done with the physical glass.

For example, the GND (graduated neutral density) filter reduces the exposure of a certain part of your image (if you need to read more on what GNDs are and why they’re so important to landscape photography, read this article here). This fantastic method is used often to capture images like the one seen below, and can either be done with actual filters or in post process with exposure blending.

Before Sunset

Photo by Christopher O’Donnell

However, not all filters can be replicated with quality in your digital dark room and need to be done in-camera. No amount of post processing can slow down the motion of water – instead, you’ll need an ND (neutral density) filter if your shutter speed needs to be extended. And while many programs try to replicate a polarizing effect, you’ll still achieve the best results by using the actual filter.

4. DSLR
A digital SLR camera is an upgrade you’ll need to make at some point if you plan on pursuing photography professionally, and landscapes are no exception. While some landscape photographers use cell phones and point-and-shoots to capture their scenes, they’re severely limiting their ability.

For example, with a DSLR, you can change your lenses and capture scenes at different focal lengths – ranging from wide angle to telephoto. You’ll also find that high ISO performance is better with a larger sensor found on SLRs – not to mention more room to work with in your viewfinder.

5. Choosing the Right Lens
Speaking of lenses – you’ll need to take along the right kind of glass to suit your surroundings. Different focal lengths and apertures can greatly affect how your photos look.

landscape photo

Photo by Andrew E. Larsen

Are you shooting long range mountains with little to no foreground interest? Perhaps using a telephoto lens and creating a pano stitch would be the right way to go.

Also note that your focal length can affect your distances – that is, a wide angle will exaggerate them and a telephoto will compress them. Take this into consideration when you think about what elements you want in your photo, and also where your camera will be. If you’re working in tight quarters, a wide angle lens will suit you much better than the 300mm prime.

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  1. bycostello

    nice tops thanks

    • Reply
  2. RAIS

    WHAT A PHOTO GRAPHIC

    • Reply
  3. Steve Stubblefield

    Lots of things to think about … nice list!!!

    • Reply
  4. Jamie A. MacDonald

    Agree 100% with all….But the dSLR part.
    I get fantastic results w/ my Olympus OM-D. Loads of dynamic range and the ability to customize settings are no longer the realm of dSLRs.

    Good write up though!

    Jamie

    • Reply
  5. Robert Tudor

    Lots of really beautiful photos here and good advice for the novice or anybody interested in landscape photography. A tip I will add to the number 1 tip:weigh the tripod down. Often the weather may be windy. Hang your camera bag from the hook beneath the head BUT and critical make sure the bag just touches the ground otherwise it can swing and act like a pendulum making the shake even worse!

    • Reply

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