A Meal On The Road

on April 30, 2012
Are you still hungry for landscape photography? Well remember that Greg Hocking will be conducting a course on Low Light Landscapes with the Shoot Workshops on the 6th of May - so you still have time to ring Shoot or go to their website and book yourself in. Greg is the business - he has won numerous awards and contracts for his landscape work and you could not do better than be instructed by him.

That said - here's my second installment of landscape photography advice, chiefly orientated to equipment choice rather than technique.

If I want bigger pictures or more detailed pictures than those available from my Fuji X-10 I need to grab a different outfit from the ready-use locker. I know that I will be wanting to see wide views, but there may be some small portions of the scene that reward me with mini-scapes or telling details - so I know I'll need a variety of focal lengths to cater for whatever presents itself.

I grab my Nikon D300, an 18-200 Nikon lens, and an 8-16 Sigma lens. In the pack there is also a Nikon SB700, a memory card wallet, a spare battery, and a cable release. Should I be fool enough to take the large equipment case there is room for some Honl flash filters, a mini torch, and a flask of gin.

Into the boot of the car goes the case, followed by my faithful old Tiltall tripod. The Tiltall has a three-way head as a permanent feature, as well as a great deal of weight and many sharp corners. The photos are steady but it is a dangerous machine.

My landscapes are reached by two means - Suzuki car and Shanks pony. As I get older I tend to favour the former over the latter, but it can be at the cost of missing out on the wilder or more scenic views. It does have the advantage of letting me carry the heavier gear in comfort. Should your journeys also involve Boeings or Beechcrafts you might have to consider paring equipment weight or bulk - or paying heavy freight costs.

What do I get for my effort? I get 13.5 megapixels spread over an APSC sensor. I get viewing angles ( in the old 35mm speak ) from 12mm to 300mm. I get a controllable fill flash in case the foreground will not cooperate. I get live view for dark scenes and an illuminated control panel for dead of night. I get matrix or spot metering built-in. My tripod allows me to correct the horizon before I tilt the camera up or down and if I want to do a panorama I can spin it on its vertical axis accurately.

My files come back all RAW, as do generally my knees and knuckles - remember that Tiltall - and I can cheerfully recover or imagine any sort of tone or exposure I want. I am happy to commit the finished files to either A2-sized prints or the waste bin, depending on whether I was really inspired out there at the seaside.

Can you do the same with your Nikon D3200, D5100, or D7000? Can you do it with your Canon 550D, 600D, or 7D? You certainly can. The same level of performance is available on a number of camera platforms, and if you know your landscapes you can even opt for single-focal length lenses for better low light performance. You might even be able to lighten the carrying load. At the end of the day it is better to be able to feel your legs.