I want to make sure that this part is completely understood before we proceed, this is how I shoot water. It may completely different than the next person, that is what makes photography an art in my eyes. 10 photographers can be setup to shoot the same scene, and none of them will come out with the same outcome.
My Gear List:
A DSLR – doesn’t matter which one, you just need to be able to completely control the shutter speed and the aperture. I usually have two cameras with me, my trusty Nikon D7000 (Ansel) and my newer Nikon D610 (Gary). There is no “which one is better” in my head, when people ask me for camera advice before they buy, I usually recommend that they rent a few first to see which one feels more comfortable to them.
A Handy Dandy Tripod – Again, as long as it can hold the camera completely still, you can use whichever tripod fits your needs and your budget. I have used a few since I started in photography. I found one that fits my shooting style (and my color preference) in this one:
Its light, folds flat, and I got it in a bright enough color that I hopefully won’t loose it in the wild (yes, I had a tripod escape from me before).
Wide Angle Lens:
The wider, the better. More scene, more light, more pure awesomeness. I started out using the Nikkor 18-200 as my basic carry all lens. Its a great little lens for walk about and landscapes. Getting into weddings and portraits, I picked up the 2nd part of the Nikon Holy Trinity, the Nikkor 24-70 2.8 for the better aperture and holy smokes, much better glass quality. This thing is tack sharp. Its first landscape test was in Yosemite. I shot El Capitan from Tunnel View and I can zoom in and see the cracks in the rock. You can see that here: El Capitan from Tunnel View
But if you are just looking for a fun all around lens, anything 24 mm and lower is great for landscape.
Not the Instagram filters, actual filters that screw into your lens. These took me a bit to find out about. I was trying to do long exposures, mid sunny days, on water. Yeah, not really gonna work (you’ll find out later).
First one, to shoot water or really anything, I have found that polarizing filters are your friends.
Polarizers accomplish three main objectives for photographers. First, a polarizing filter cuts out the glare in a scene. The horrid glare on water can be removed just by using a polarizing filter. Its like sunglasses for your lens.
The second purpose of a polarizer is to saturate colors. This is especially handy when shooting landscapes which are drowned out with harsh lighting. Notice that some of my shots seem to have more saturated colors than if you just saw the scene itself? I use my little polarizer that could to do so.
Neutral Density (ND) Filters:
ND Filters can come in so many shapes and sizes. I have used both the square (Cokin) style, and the attach directly to your lens type. Both work great.
The main purpose of the ND filter is to cut down the amount of light that reaches your sensor. You can turn a bright and sunny day, into a dark, contrasty night.
I use these especially if I am shooting moving water or if I want to do some light painting in the middle off the day.
My flashes stay at home when I’m off in the middle of no where. However, I do bring a small, powerful LED flashlight, and my new Yongnuo 360. Its so much fun to play with, but I will write up about that later. Sometimes you need to lighten up a spot, mostly I bring them for safety.
I was raised in a hiking and camping household. One of the most important things my Dad drilled into our heads was to always be prepared. Although I may bring less camera gear with me than a wedding when I head out, it does not mean my pack is empty. Water, snacks, a multitool, someway to make fire, a signaling device (a small mirror works), and a jacket. Depending on location, I may also bring a rope.
You never know what may happen out there, its always best to be prepared.
Thats about it for gear wise. You really don’t need a ton of things, I actually pack less gear for landscapes than I do for weddings.