Having the right equipment for landscape photography will give you the best opportunity to capture that perfect image. While you may be lucky and the photo opportunity may be right near your car, you also may need to walk to your destination. Being prepared will help ensure that you have everything you need so that you can quickly move between photo opportunities.
What’s in the bag
- Camera bag – a backpack is probably more suitable if you have to walk to your destination or are hiking. Other than the typical dSLR camera bags there are lots of good hiking specific options from brands like F Stop, Mindshift, Lowepro, Peak Design, and Think Tank. You may otherwise consider a camera insert in a hiking pack you already own.
- Waterproof bag cover – If your bag doesn’t come with a waterproof rain cover then purchase one separately. Also consider dry bags for your electronic gear if the weather is bad.
- Headlamp (torch / flashlight) – If you are planning to shoot at sunrise or sunset make sure you have sufficient lighting to find your way to or from your destination safely.
- Rain jacket – a good quality shell jacket is light and inconspicuous but make sure it is suitable to your conditions and remember conditions can change quickly. You may also need to pack waterproof pants if the weather is looking bad. Columbia or Outdoor Research are good brands to consider.
- Cold weather clothes – beanie, gloves, jacket, thermals, long johns. Pack for the conditions you may encounter in the coldest parts of the day (morning and night).
- Warm weather clothes – if you’re heading out on a hot / clear day then consider clothes that keep you covered. A long shirt with a collar and a hat can be really important to keep the sun and wind off you.
- Waterproof walking boots – If you’re walking on loose rock or at night then a good pair of walking boots can save your ankles. They are also great if you are walking through mud or water as there is nothing worse than wet socks. There are lots of brands of walking boots like Salomon and Keen, but make sure if you’re buying a pair for the first time that you go into a store and get sized, as you often need half a size bigger to allow for your feet to swell if you’re walking for long periods.
- Baby wipes – outdoors and dirt go hand in hand so always be prepared.
- First aid kit – essential if you are going into a remote area.
- Insect repellent / bear spray
- Phone and / or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) – don’t underestimate how easy it is to get lost, especially if it is dark. Safety is always the number one priority. And don’t assume you’ll always have cellphone coverage.
- Food and water – even if you’re not planning to be out long always keep a snack or a small packet of jelly beans in your bag. And always pack water.
Day hiking near Mt Assiniboine, Canadian Rockies.
- dSLR or mirrorless camera – Compact or phone cameras can also capture great photographs however this article is directed towards interchangeable lens cameras like dSLR’s and mirrorless cameras.
- Lenses – Wide angle, zoom, primes, stock. Your creativity and style of shooting is what matters here. Wide angle lenses would be your more typical landscape choice.
- Neck strap and / or wrist cuff – If your stock strap that came with the camera isn’t comfortable you may consider a Peak Design and Altura strap or cuff.
- Cleaning kit – Lens pen, microfibre cloth, and kim wipes (or similar). Altura offer a cost effective cleaning kit.
- Circular Polarizer Filter – If your lens diameters are different sizes you will potentially need more than one filter. Another option is to buy the polarizer for your biggest lens diameter and then use an adapter (step up or step down rings) on your other lenses. B + W, Tiffen, and Hoya are good brands. Look for multi-coated with a brass ring.
- Neutral Density Filters – Great for long exposures. The same rules as above apply re lens diameter. Consider a kit or possibly a couple of options like a 3-stop and a 10-stop. B + W, Tiffen, and Hoya are good brands. Again look for multi-coated with a brass ring.
- Tripod – Good quality carbon tripods are fantastic if you’ve got several hundred dollars to drop on a tripod with Gitzo and Induro being good options. If not consider a sturdy aluminium option like a Manfrotto. More mobile options include the smaller tripods like the Gorilla Pod or a monopod. Just consider the weight of your camera and lens, as well as whether the system eliminates camera shake when looking at these options.
- Spare batteries – Your dSLR may have sufficient battery life however you don’t want to be out shooting photos when you battery goes flat. Mirrorless cameras are notorious for their poor battery life so always carry a spare or three.
- Spare SD card – don’t be caught short while you’re in a remote area. Make sure you have fast SD cards (>95MB/s or higher) to increase the data transfer rate between your camera and the SD card. This is particularly important for continuous and long exposure shots.
- Remote shutter release – Landscape photos lend themselves to long exposures and using a remote shutter release will minimize the chance of camera shake. Brand consistency is often more reliable in this instance. If you own a Canon use the Canon remote release or the app on your phone and test it before you go out for the first time.
- Weather cover – Changeable / bad weather can be a great opportunity to capture interesting landscape photographs. If your camera and lens isn’t weather resistant then you’re going to need appropriate rain cover. Cheap plastic covers are an option if you’re simply on holiday or you may want to invest a little more and get a plastic rain cover. Altura offer both options.
Extras you may consider
- Hiking poles: Don’t underestimate their use if you’re going out walking for more than two hours or if there is a lot of vertical change.
- Gaters: If you are bush bashing, it’s raining and you don’t like wet weather pants, or you want to avoid leeches then gaiters can be an essential part of your kit.
- Waders or water shoes and neoprene socks: If you are going to be photographing in or near water then you may want to consider waders (or watershoes / neoprene socks) to keep yourself dry and warm.
- Peak Design Capture and Lens clips: I mention these specifically as they can be great to give you easy accessibility to either your camera or lens
You will generally have an idea of the location, conditions, and type of photos you are looking to shoot before leaving on a landscape photograph adventure. If you are near your car then you may not need some of the equipment listed so you can eliminate where appropriate.
If on the other hand you’re going to be out hiking for more than two hours then you may be selective as to whether you want to carry the extra weight of your tripod and/or or extra lenses. Again you need to consider the type of photos you want to shoot, as long exposure and low light photographs are more difficult to achieve handheld. In saying this, never sacrifice your food, water, or clothing to be able to afford the weight to carry a tripod.