I was going through my stuff the other day and I started thinking about things I find essential to every landscape photo shoot I go on (other than the usual camera body, lenses and tripod). It was actually pretty hard to come up with a list of stuff that I always take with me and use just about every time. The way I started thinking about it was this: what if I only had 60 seconds to grab my essential gear. Besides grabbing the camera, lenses, and tripod, what things would I make sure I had with me. So I came up with these 3 essential things for my landscape shoots. Here goes:
1. Lens Filters
There’s certain filters that you simply can’t recreate well in Lightroom or Photoshop. For me, I always have my filter pouch with me and it’s got my circular Polarizer and my neutral density filters. I don’t use graduated neutral density filters anymore (I wrote more about why they’re dead to me here), but I always carry at least a 2, 3 and 4 stop ND filter with me. I use the ones from Tiffen and they even come with a pouch. And polarizers are essential so I always have mine with me. I personally use the B+W Circular Polarizer. It’s a little more pricey than some of the cheap ones, but I’ve had mine for nearly 10 years so they last.
Here’s a link to the Tiffen filters I just mentioned.
And here’s a link to the B+W Polarizer
2. Cable Release
I shoot a lot of long exposures so a cable release is essential if your shutter speed goes over 30 seconds. Under 30 seconds, I can get away with the self-timer on my camera, but anything over and you’ll need your cable release (unless you have one of those new Canon 7D Mark II’s that have it built in, but I don’t) 🙂
3. Lens Clothes and Wipes
This one is huge for me. If you’re shooting outdoors, some of the best weather to shoot in is when it’s stormy out. That’s where you can get some spectacular light if the clouds break. Plus, I like shooting waterfalls and on the beach a lot, and I’ll catch a lot of spray off the water. In fact, the photos I posted from Oneonta Gorge a few months ago were a perfect example of this. After every shot I had to wipe away the mist from my lens, and I ended up going through two small towels to help keep it dry.
Anyway, the point is that I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS have a lens cloth and some wipes in my bag. Any cloth will do. I’ve even taken a small towel from my hotel bathroom on shoots with me. But a towel will only do so much so I always carry lens wipes too. I use the Hoodman Lens Cleanse wipes. They come with wet wipe that helps get any junk off the lens, and a dry wipe that helps dry it off. I’ll actually put ‘em back in the package and reuse during my shoot (although I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to – but it works for me) 🙂
So I cant imagine that you carry the above named filters for every lens that you carry. So the $64000 question is, what is the typical lens that you use these filters with? If I were to follow your fine example would I use these on my wide, telephoto or normal range lens?
Having followed Matt’s blog for six or so years, I can tell you he uses a Canon 16x35mm most of the time for his Landscapes and also a 70x200mm. He uses those 2 lenses 99% of the time. He use to use a 24x70mm, but just lately went to the 16x35mm.
Great article! You might also want to consider writing one about three things NOT to take with you on a landscape shoot. Many of us have the bad habit of packing too much equipment and then not ever using it. Advice on what to leave behind might be helpful.
Great tips Matt. I also like the blog on gradND filters, very helpful.
You just described my daily gear that I carry, the importance of carrying those things are priceless. 🙂
Did you peek in my bag … ? I have all three items in my back and I learned it all from reading you blogs. I love the Hoodman wet and dry cloths … I use them all the time. You mentioned something about the 7D Mark II having a built in cable release … what? That would be cool!
Yeah Dennis. I can’t wait until all of the cameras have that built in timer. That’ll make things SOOO much easier 🙂
And yes, I did peak in your bag. In fact, I took a few lenses – I hope you don’t mind 😉