Before you run off to the camera store…

The manufacturer of the camera equipment I use announced last week a slew of new lenses.One of them, a fish eye 8-15 zoom piqued my curiosity. I love the look that comes from a wide angled lens.

Almost everything I shoot is shot with just one lens, a 16-35 zoom.

The new lens won’t be for sale until 2011 so I have some time to mull over that purchase which led me to write this article.

How much equipment do you really need to shoot landscapes?

I have a bunch of lenses from the wide zoom all the way up to a 500 mm telephoto. So what is in my camera bag when I drive out of town?

I won’t mention brand names because I think it’s misleading to those new to photography. Most upper end camera gear is so similar in quality that it doesn’t really matter which you choose to use.

This is what I take with me when shooting landscapes,

  • Digital SLR camera body
  • One lens is all I ever take with me a 16-35 zoom
  • light tripod
  • shutter release
  • one graduated ND filter, gray not colored
  • circular polarizing filter
  • two extra 16 gig memory cards
  • soft cloth to clean lens and filters
  • on longer trips I take along a plastic bag that holds all the stuff I need to clean my camera sensor, a blower, fluid, swabs, etc.

That’s it. Go to my website or my photostream on Flickr. Ninety-nine percent of the photos were taken with that equipment.

For all the different looks, colors, effects, that is all that was needed.

This is why I get so annoyed at the professional or semi-professionals who are always mentioning equipment. It seems that equipment is all some can write about when equipment is such a small part of the creative process.

My time outdoors is limited as yours probably is. I don’t have the luxury and probably wouldn’t want to if I could, wait for days for the light to be right to shoot a landscape. I want to get as many views as quickly as I possibly can for the times that I am outdoors.

It might not sound like it but changing lenses means changing the way you see. If I were using a 100 mm lens for example, I’d be looking for different things to shoot than with a wide angle lens. When the light is changing by the second, I am losing the opportunity for different views.

On a normal morning near sunrise, I can usually get a half dozen to a dozen landscapes that will look different enough to the agencies that they wouldn’t be considered similars.

More photos in the agency means more sales for me. I don’t shoot for the agency. I shoot for me and if I can shoot what I want and have a few hundred extra dollars coming in every month, that’s fine by me.

So how much equipment do YOU need? It depends upon how you shoot and how you see.

For me, less is definitely more. Will I buy the new fish eye zoom in January? Probably not but we’ll see.

Happy shooting,

Dan

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~ by Dan Jurak on September 1, 2010.

4 Responses to “Before you run off to the camera store…”

  1. Thank you for making me feel OK about only owning the lens that came with my camera. I would like a zoom to get closer to people and wildlife and a macro to shoot insects and the teeny flowers that bloom on the berry bushes in spring, but those aren’t in the cards for me at the moment.

    And the image…yours are always beautiful…but this one is truly stunning! I’m curious – did you take it from the car? I’m thinking not, since it must be HDR to get all that detail with the sun straight in your lens so you must have got a couple of pounds of muck on your boots. :)

  2. @ Cindy, I have more lenses but only because like a lot of other beginners in photography, I thought I needed them. Most of them are sitting in my basement gathering dust.

    The photo above was taken while kneeling down in the middle of the road. I got a few shots yesterday morning but nothing that I really like. They probably won’t ever see the light of day.

    Dan

  3. My time outdoors is limited as yours probably is. I don’t have the luxury and probably wouldn’t want to if I could, wait for days for the light to be right to shoot a landscape. I want to get as many views as quickly as I possibly can for the times that I am outdoors.

    Dan, so many times I’ve found myself saying, “Nope, won’t have awesome colors or cool clouds tonight, better not head out to the river.” Instead, I should be saying, “I wonder what kind of conditions I’ll find if I take my camera out to the river tonight? I’d better go find out.”

    You can’t capture what you don’t shoot.

  4. @ Rick, the whole notion of waiting for hours for the light to be right escapes me. While, I’m waiting for things to be perfect for that one shot, the light could be “right” in a dozen other places.

    You’re right, getting out and shooting is the best thing to do. If you don’t shoot it, you’ll never catch it.

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