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Landscape Photography Anecdotes - Equipment Angst - For the fifth beginners landscape photography article in this series, Martin Pettinger observes how having the best equipment may not lead to taking the best photographs
One problem with a hobby is wanting to get bigger and better things - i.e. a bigger lens, a 'better camera', more gizmos. However as per my previous article, 'better' cameras do not necessarily make for 'better' photographs.
So my birthday is coming up and the wife wants a list. Now I think she is going to tell me to go and raffle myself if I ask for a Sigma 10-20 lens, a Lee Filter Foundation Set, a Canon 200mm prime or a new computer so I can use install and use Raw Essentials. So it got me thinking of little accessories that would make for 'better' or different photographs that I cannot currently take.
One thing I have noticed with my landscapes is they often lean! I use a Manfrotto CLB 055 Tripod with a 460mg Magnesium Head - not a pan and tilt. The Magnesium Head has a spirit level but I do not find it that useful. Hence one gizmo I think I am going to put on my list is a spirit level to go in the hot shoe of my Canon 10D. I do not own a flash gun so it can live in there quite happily.
Before anyone points out I can rotate my landscape and crop - when I am making the absolute maximum use of my 24mm prime which has a field of view equivalent to a 38mm lens due to the camera’s 1.6x crop factor I may lose little corner details such as foreground rocks if I rotate and crop so I’d rather get it right in the field. There is also a slight loss of quality when you rotate and crop images.
I also believe in making the best use of one’s equipment before buying more. I own an excellent macro lens - a Tamron 90mm. Hence one idea for photographing small flowers and fungi would be an angle finder. Trying to frame a small flower when the camera is on a bean bag on the ground by lying on the floor is so awkward and messy that I end up giving up - not least the risk of flattening surrounding flowers.
The last item I going to put on my list is a 3 stop neutral density filter and a 3 stop hard edged graduate filter. I want to do more coastal landscapes and really slow down the shutter speed to make the sea go misty as well as have a grad filter where I can put the transition on the horizon line. The 3 stop neutral density filter will also be useful for waterfalls as I like bright and blurry rather than frozen.
Hence rather than yearning for a bigger and 'better' camera or a wider or faster lens have a browse through the ePhotozine equipment buyers guide > insert link here Pete and look at polarising filters if you do not have one, macro photography - it's cheaper than you may think, camera supports if you do not own a tripod - No.1 accessory in my book.
So that’s my list folk. Hopefully it will help me take 'better' photographs - i.e. landscapes that do not lean, close ups that I wouldn’t otherwise take and seascapes with ethereal water and a grad that doesn’t darken rocks or foreground interest. Nevertheless a Sigma 10-20 would be nice!