What's In Your Camera Bag Steven Pressler is a California Landscape photographer who savors shooting the incredible beaches of the world and diverse cityscapes of New York City. You can read more of his Blogs as well as purchase his fine art landscape prints on his website at www.landscapeartphotography.com. The recommended gear to shoot inspiring landscapes…so what’s in your camera bag! People ask me all the time how do I capture such amazing landscapes and what equipment do I use. So lets talk about it. A stunning landscape photo can truly capture the creative power and incite your imaginary dreams. It can bring to life a static place or location and draws us to nature’s incredible wonders. In your minds eye you might have a clear vision of the breathtaking photo opportunity in front of you. However, what might not be understandable is the camera gear you will need so that special moment in time is not lost forever. The dilemma is the notion that some photographers believe its paramount to have the very best and the most expensive gear. Others think the opposite and believe the gear is not very important and skill alone is the single most influencing factor to memorable landscape photography. Honestly there should be a natural balance between the two. The truth is, the camera is just one of the building blocks inherent to a great photo. Regardless of how high end your camera gear is, in the end it’s not the camera that captured the shot, it’s the creative force and vision of the photographer. The often-overlooked connection between you and your gear is the individuality and ideas that go into the shot well before the shutter ever closes. Without the foregoing there isn’t any equipment regardless of price that will overcome the lack of execution and composition. Yes you do need specific gear to take certain landscape photos but there is no guarantee this will produce the required results There needs to be the skill set and knowledge to get the most out of your gear. Photography equipment and related gear are all tools to get you the results you want. The bottom line, it’s your talent that is the single most important factor in photography. Without that, trust me your camera and gear is unequivocally useless no matter the price tag. What is the recommended Equipment for capturing awesome photography Camera body First and foremost you must have a body that allows you to take the camera off of auto and enables you to shoot in either Manual or Aperture Priority. Paramount to landscape photography is the ability to capture tack sharp focus throughout your depth of field. Everything in the photo from a small single leaf on the ground to the distant mountain range needs to be in clear focus. Shooting in Manual or Aperture Priority gives you the ability to choose the right focal ratio for the location. I would suggest something in the range of f/8 to f/16. This will produce photos with excellent depth of field and sharp focus throughout the image. The sensitivity to light is equally important or ISO setting. Taking photos at a very low ISO will produce cleaner images with less noise or graininess. I would try and shoot as close to 100 or 200 ISO as possible. Remember the most dramatic landscapes are captured in anything other than midday sun. That’s not to say you cannot go out and take fantastic photos while the sun is high in the sky. There is obviously enough ambient light to make excellent images with very short exposure but, shooting at either sunrise or sunset (Golden Hours) will have a much more profound effect in capturing very dramatic images. Cloudy skies are also a photographer’s best friend. Clouds add suspense and texture, which can transform the ordinary into something quite stunning. Because the light in these conditions is much lower, the need for a stable platform or Tripod is essential Tripod A Tripod is a photographer’s best friend. It provides the best possible stable platform for you digital camera. This gives you the ability to compose the shot and lock the camera down so there is no additional movement after you have established your camera settings. In low light the focal ratio and low ISO needed to capture the scene are comparatively longer. Too long to steady handhold the camera without blurring the photo. Mounting the camera to a sturdy Tripod will keep the camera perfectly still which is essential for long exposure photography. This will also allow you to record wonderfully amazing detail. A quick release Tripod head will enable you to take your DSLR off of your Tripod and back on, without jogging it and spoiling your composition Lenses No doubt one of the single most important tools in your gear bag is your lenses. In my opinion the most versatile lens for landscape photography is the wide angel lens This is a lens with a short focal length that delivers a very wide field of view. A wide angel lens gives you the flexibility in capturing a photograph in its full grandeur. My recommendation would be 18MM on a full frame camera. Remote Sutter release Another essential piece of gear you should invest in, albeit at a very inexpensive cost. The remote shutter release enables you to release the shutter without touching the camera body. This will help in reducing the risk of camera shake especially if you’re considering long exposures. If you don’t have one, using your SLR’s self timer is an acceptable alternative Filters The biggest misunderstanding is the need for filters, which in my opinion is not essential to taking outstanding landscape images. Have said that, they are quite useful and in the right situation can be very effective. Among the most used are the GND or Neutral Density filters and Variable Polarizing filters. The old adage you should do everything in camera is simply that…. old school of thinking. In situations where you would consider GND filters to compensate for difference in lighting, post-editing software like Photoshop can more than compensate for these variances. If used when components of your scene are moving, such as water, clouds or even people, they expand your world of creative possibilities. Freezing a waterfall with a regular shutter speed looks changeless and rather uneventful; capturing the water as a blur and it conveys a sense of motion. ND filters give you the ability to set the aperture and shutter speed you desire, rather than what the conditions impose An ND filter can be used for example on a sunny day to slow time enough to create a feeling of movement, but they’re even more effective around dawn or dusk, when they can turn an already-slow exposure into one several seconds long, enabling you to turn a surging water flow into a gentle haze. ND filters let you set the exposure times that your lens will not otherwise allow on its own by reducing the amount of light passing through the lens. The darker the filter, the longer the exposure time can be. Yourself Now that we have gone through the essential camera gear lets talk about the last piece of equipment…. being yourself. Lets face it, we can own all the gear in the world but your keen eye for composition and recognition for good light is the most important tool in any landscape photographers camera bag. With a camera body that allows you to shoot in Manuel or Aperture, a solid tripod and a sharp wide angel lens, you can take your landscape photography to a whole new level. Your images will convey a sense of magic and grandeur. Time to go out and shoot!!!!