Iv'e had so many enquiries abou which equipment a Landscape photog should have taht I decided to post a summary of which equipemnt you should have to create Scenics / Landscapes. I will be posting a complete article on DPC at a later stage, so watch this space. In the meantime here's a summary, that will send your thoughts in the right direction. Also check out Trompie's article, "Camera Equipment, A Buyer's Mini Guide"on DPC...
A heavy, sturdy, tripod with decent head (preferably a ball head or pistol grip) is essential! Never buy a tripod from Macro, Deon, Game... You have to look at buying
- Ultra Wide Angle Lens, i.e. 10-22 for APS-C size sensors or 16-35 for Full Frame (The Sigma 10-20 is a great value for money lens for APS-C size). Ultra wide angle lenses makes elements look further apart and ideal to capture the whole scene and include as much foreground, middle and background elements one can get.
- Standard Zoom (i.e. the normal 18-55mm lens will not let you down if you starting out)
- Telephoto Zooms i.e 70-200, or 70-300 for tight crops and to make elements seems closer to each other.
- The all in one travel lens. If you want to travel light and have a one-in-all solution with you then don't look further than the super zooms i.e.18-200mm made by Canon, Nikon, Sigma. Tamron makes a brilliant 18-270mm lens, which has won many awards. The only real drawback one these super zoom lenses is that they have fairly small apertures, so make sure you buy one with an Image Stabilizer.
- Special Effects Lenses. Special effect lenses allows for surreal, and dramatic scenes and should not be disregarded if you want to create wonderful, interesting images. Look at Diagonal Fisheye lenses, which bend the edges in for surreal images. What about the lensbaby, which keeps everything except the "Sweet Spot" out of focus.
Standard 2-in-one, or 5-in-one refelectors is essential in order to fill areas of shadows in the foreground. I even use my speedlight to "brighten up" elements in the foreground.
If you want to come out tops and create brilliant scenics, then you should never be without the following filters...
- UV / Skylight. UV Filters take care of the UV. Skylight filters, even more so, and ideal to minimize haze effectively. Another standard filter, which often comes in handy, is the "Warm Up" filter, which introduce a warmer colour cast. However, shooting in RAW and using software like Photoshop and Lightroom, one can always warm up your image afterwards.
- Circular Polarizer. Takes care of glare and reflections and you need to turn it in order to create the effect you want. You cannot do without a polarizer when shooting foliage, water, rocks, really anything...
- Neutral Density. The ND filter blocks out light and allows you to use longer shutter speeds. This is ideal for blurring movement of water and clouds. ND filters offer various intensities from 2 stops to 13 stops. Newer Gradient / Fader ND filters work like Circlular Polarizers and you need to turn it in order to decrease / increase the intensity of light. I just ordered a (Thin Mount) Vari-ND Variable Neutral Density Filter, which comes at a hefty price tag ($390USD). You can buy cheaper versions called ND Fader filters from Genus and Light Craft.
- ND Grad. ND Grads are graduated Neutral Density filters, of which the one half are coated and the other half bright. They are ideal to keep the foreground bright and background dark.
- Advice on buying filters. Remember that "screw on" filters are screwed on to the lens. If all your lenses does not have the same filter threads it is best to buy bigger filters and then buy "step down" rings for your smaller lenses. Otherwise buy the standard square type glass filters.
If you're serious about photography, you will obviously want to fine tune your RAW images afterwards. I mainly use three software suites..
- Lightroom. For Digital Workflow
- Photoshop. For Pixel Editing
- Photomatix 4 > Create HDR image
2 outstanding software filters, that may be used as plugins for both Photoshop and Lightroom are..
- Nik Silver Efex Pro
- Nik Color Efex Pro (I mainly use the Tonal Contrast, Velvia 100 filters for my Landscapes)