Kenko Photography Articles

3 Budget-Friendly Circular Polarizers

budget friendly circular polarizers

Before you decide which circular polarizer you want to buy, you should figure out what you’re looking for in a circular polarizer.

Four important things to keep in mind when shopping for a circular polarizer are: the size of the frame, whether the circular polarizer casts color on your images, whether the circular polarizer uses a hydrophobic coating, and the type of glass used.

If your circular polarizer features a thick rim, then the chances of vignetting on the edges of your photo drastically increase, so slim circular polarizers are best.

You also don’t want your circular polarizer to add any colors to your photos - you’re looking for hyper-neutral results instead.

Finally, the top circular polarizers should use a hydrophobic coating to keep water at bay, and higher transmission glass, to prevent light restriction. After all, you don’t want to be constantly wiping water off the filter, nor do you want it to influence the exposure.

For the purpose of this article, we picked three budget-friendly circular polarizers that are each under $100. 

Kenko Nyumon Slim Circular Polarizer

kenko cpl 1

At the top of my list is the circular polarizer I currently have in my bag, the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer.

This filter ticks all the boxes when it comes to features you want in a polarizing filter.

It’s made of precision Asahi optical glass that maximizes the quality of the image. This type of glass is similar to what’s used to make the elements in a lens, so you know it’s of a very high quality.

kenko cpl

The slim housing minimizes the chances of vignetting while the eight layers of anti-reflective coatings reduce ghosting and reflections.

Likewise, the coatings on both sides of the filter help repel environmental conditions like water, dust, and oils from your fingers. 

These filters also have minimal effect on the exposure - about 1.5 stops.

In other words, I’ve found this filter to not only be a durable and effective filter, but it’s also extremely budget friendly at just $43.00 for a 37mm version on up to about $53.00 for an 82mm version. 

Pros of the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer:

  • Excellent price
  • High-quality glass
  • Eight layers of coatings

Cons of the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer:

  • Threads can be a little difficult to screw onto the lens

Get more details on the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

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MARUMI DHG Super Circular Polarizer 

marumi 1 

Just a head’s up…

Marumi has an extensive line of circular polarizers, which can get a little confusing simply because of the number of choices. Just make sure you’re picking up the DHG Super Circular Polarizer at the store. 

This circular polarizer is water and oil resistant. It also doesn’t affect image quality at all, with no vignetting on the edge of photographs because of how thin the polarizer housing is. 

You can also pick up this polarizer in a wide range of sizes from 37mm to 95mm. 

Plus, most importantly, it screws on efficiently and quickly, which isn’t something you want to worry about when you finally catch an elusive scene you’ve been chasing for hours. 

marumi 2

Pros of the MARUMI DHG Super Circular Polarizer:

  • Water and oil resistant
  • Comes in a ton of different sizes
  • Doesn’t interfere with image quality 

Cons of the MARUMI DHG Super Circular Polarizer:

  • Slightly impedes light transmission
  • More expensive 

The MARUMI DHG Super Circular Polarizer is available on Amazon for just $80. 

B + W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer

b w circular polarizer

B + W thought the high transmission glass they made this circular polarizer out of was so important they included it in the name. 

It fully lives up to expectations. It only loses between 1 and 1.5 stops of light.  

It also doesn’t interfere with image quality at all, because it’s a mere 4.5mm thick. This circular polarizer is also the easiest to grip out of all three on our list. 

The coating is a little disappointing, however. B + W claims the coating is fingerprint and water resistant, but I found the opposite to be true.

For more info on the B + W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer, view Nikhil Kumar’s unboxing video above.

Pros of the B + W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer:

  • High transmission glass means less lost light
  • A ton of sizing options
  • Doesn’t interfere with image quality  

Cons of the B + W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer:

  • Most expensive circular polarizer on our list
  • No impressive coating

The B + W XS-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer is available on B&H for $100.

Learn More:

 



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3 Landscape Photography Tips You Aren’t Using, But Should

3 Landscape Photography Tips You Arent Using

photo byMarcus Millo via iStock

If you Google “landscape photography tips” you get about a bazillion results.

Most tips for landscape photography are the same - use leading lines, have a straight horizon, use the shade white balance when photographing a sunset - and so on.

But there’s a few other tips that you definitely should use, but that you likely aren’t, for whatever reason.

Here’s three such landscape photography tips you should put into practice today.

Landscape Photography Tip #1: Use a Circular Polarizer

benefits of polarizing filtersphoto by Dimitris66 via iStock 

If you shoot landscapes, a circular polarizing filter is must-have landscape photography gear. Your photos will benefit greatly from having one of these things on the end of your lens.

That’s because there’s tons of benefits of polarizing filters, like the Kenko Nyumon polarizer shown below. This includes:

  • Polarizers reduce glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces. The result is that you can see the crystal clear water rather than it being obstructed by sun glare.
  • Polarizers reduce atmospheric haze. With less haze, distant landscape features appear crisper and clearer.
  • Polarizers boost contrast in the sky. With the atmosphere a deeper blue and clouds a brighter white, the sky above the landscape will have much more visual appeal.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

landscape photography tip use a polarizer 

Even better, using a circular polarizer is about as easy as it gets.

Simply screw it onto your lens, position yourself at a 45-degree angle to the sun (or as close to that as possible), and rotate the polarizer as needed to get the desired effect.

It’s a process that takes just seconds, but one that can help you reap the rewards of much-improved landscape photos.

Editor’s Tip: Not all polarizing filters are made alike. A top quality filter has high-quality glass for sharpness, multi-coating to resist dust and fingerprints, and precision machined housings that are easy to rotate and that have a low profile to prevent vignetting. Don’t be seduced by high-dollar polarizers, either. You can GET A TOP-QUALITY POLARIZER WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK. Need more details? Learn all about budget-friendly lens filters.

Landscape Photography Tip #2: Your Composition Makes the Shot, Not the Scenery 

landscape photography rules 2

Photo by JOHN TOWNER on Unsplash 

Sure, it helps if the landscape you’re photographing is breathtaking, but beautiful scenery on its own isn’t going to get you an awesome landscape photo.

Aside from all the other things a great shot needs (i.e., good light, a strong subject), it also needs to be well-composed.

This means applying traditional landscape photography rules - the rule of thirds comes to mind.

But this also means breaking the rules when need be.

landscape photography rules 1

photo by Boogich via iStock 

For example, the photo above doesn’t adhere to the rule of thirds, and that’s okay.

Placing the waterfall in the middle of the frame works well here because it extends the leading line of the river upward.

Additionally, it’s important to change the eye level of your landscape photos and compose shots from a low angle or a high angle.

rule of thirds landscapes

photo by Scacciamosche via iStock

Doing so immediately changes the look of the shot and provides the viewer with a more interesting view of the landscape that they might not typically see.

There’s plenty of other landscape photography tips you can try, but simply changing the eye level and understanding that breaking the rules can sometimes be as effective as following them will do a lot to help you improve your landscape photography.

Learn More:

Landscape Photography Tip #3: Don’t Get Caught Up in Doing Things the “Right” Way 

 landscape photography rules 2

Photo by Tom Gainor on Unsplash 

Here’s the thing…

Though you should probably use a tripod for most landscape photos, and learn how to shoot in manual mode, and understand which white balance setting to use for different kinds of lighting, when it comes down to it, getting the shot is more important than trying and failing to get it the right way.

 landscape photography rules 1

Photo by Finding Dan | Dan Grinwis on Unsplash 

I’m a huge advocate for learning photography and getting things right in-camera. But at the end of the day, it’s better to get the shot you want shooting full auto with no tripod than missing the shot altogether because you’re fiddling around with camera settings.

A lot can be corrected in post these days, so if you have a choice between getting the shot the “wrong” way and not getting the shot at all, by all means, do it the “wrong” way!

 



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3 Tips on How to Use a Circular Polarizer

3 Tips on How to Use a Circular Polarizer

For those of you that have been paying attention, you know I just wrote this seriously in-depth article about how to use a circular polarizer.  

It goes into the science behind circular polarizers and is pretty technical. 

This article, on the other hand, is simply a short list of practical tips for using a polarizer and skips all the technical stuff. 

Here are my top 3 tips on how to use a circular polarizer. 

Get the Angle Right

circular polarizer tips 2

photo by nexusimage via iStock 

If you’re trying to use your circular polarizer to shoot sunsets or sunrises, it’s not going to work.

That’s because circular polarizers work best when the sun is at a 90-degree angle.

circular polarizer tips

photo bylaflor via iStock

A good way to find that sweet spot while using a circular polarizer is to turn your fingers into an L shape. 

Point your forefinger directly at the sun, then pivot your wrist. Wherever your thumb is pointing is the best direction to aim your camera. 

Avoid Using Polarizers for Panoramas

circular polarizer tips 3

photo byHaizhanZheng via iStock

This is another one of those problems with polarizers that people rarely think about.

It’s really difficult to take a panorama with a circular polarizer because you are going to be pointing your camera at varying angles to the sun throughout the one photo.

As discussed above, this presents a problem because you’ll have some shots in the pano in which the polarizer is working like a charm, and others in which it isn’t.

So, your final product will end up looking really unnatural without a ton of post-processing.

Alternatively, you can adjust the polarization of the filter as you move the camera for each image in the panorama - increasing its strength for each frame that’s closer to the sun - but this can be extremely difficult to pull off. 

Learn More:

Invest in a Quality Circular Polarizer 

how to use a circular polarizer

I ended up in a weird part of the internet yesterday, and stumbled across a hilarious video on how to DIY a circular polarizer.

While a DIY circular polarizer would be a fun project to do with your kiddos, it’s not exactly realistic to DIY your own polarizer out of a cut-up pair of 3D glasses.

I mean, it’s not going to make a very durable filter, right? Nonetheless, ellis3d makes it look simple:

Likewise, I see photographers buying $10 circular polarizers off Amazon.

These circular polarizers are often flimsy, poorly made, and can create a color cast in your images. So, not a good investment!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

I use Kenko for all of my polarizer needs, and particularly enjoy their slim circular polarizing filter. 

For $43, it’s the cheapest version of a circular polarizer that will last you forever.

circular polarizer

Kenko is the number one selling polarizer in Japan, and for good reason - they’ve managed to create a polarizer that performs well, is durable, and doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.

It’s anti-reflective ring works better than any other polarizer filter I’ve tried and I don’t have to worry about flare in my photos. 

On top of that, it comes with an anti-stain coating so it’s easy to clean after every use. Not bad, right?!

If you want to improve your landscape photos (who doesn’t?), using a polarizer is one of the best ways to do so. And as you’ve learned here, it’s one of the simplest things you can do as well!

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4 Easy Landscape Photography Tips You Need to Know

4 Easy Landscape Photography Tips You Need to Know

 photo bySean Pavone via iStock

When I started in photography, I thought landscapes would be the easiest subject. 

After all, I just needed to pull over on the side of the road, point my camera at something pretty, and press the shutter button to get a great shot. At least that’s what I thought…

Obviously, I was very wrong - good landscape photos require every bit as much hard work and planning than any other kind of photo.

In this tutorial, I want to share four easy beginner landscape photography tips that you might not have heard of.

Combined with more traditional landscape photography tips, these pointers will help you get the best-quality images with the most impact.

Table of Contents

Use a Polarizer - But Not All the Time

kenko smart slim cpl

One of the most common pieces of advice for landscape photographers is to use a polarizing filter.

These filters, like theKenko Smart Slim Circular Polarizer shown above, offer many benefits to landscape images, including:

  •  Reduced glare off non-metallic surfaces, like water or wet plants and rocks
  • Reduced atmospheric haze, so distant elements in the landscape appear more defined
  • Boosted contrast in the sky, with a bluer atmosphere and whiter clouds

 In fact, ask most landscape photographers and they’ll tell you that a polarizer is the most important filter to have in your bag.

However, what some folks neglect to mention is that polarizers are only useful in certain situations.

easy landscape photography tips 1

  photo byferrantraite via iStock

For example, a polarizer has no effect when you’re shooting toward the sun, so they’re useless if you’re photographing the sunrise or sunset and the sun is in the frame. They have their greatest effect when shooting at a 90-degree angle from the sun. 

As another example, polarizers aren’t well-suited for low-light landscape photography. This is because they slightly reduce the amount of light entering the lens. 

So, if you’re in a thick forest or shooting at dusk, ditch the polarizer so your camera can collect the light it needs to get a good exposure.

Knowing when you should and shouldn’t use a polarizer will certainly help you get improved photos.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP

You Don’t Need to Shoot at f/22

landscape photography tips 1

photo by tomch via iStock 

When you first learn how aperture works and how it impacts depth of field, it’s common to want to slam the aperture down to f/22. After all, the smaller the aperture opening, the bigger the depth of field.

However, shooting at f/22 isn’t going to do your photos any favors…

No lens - not even a high-end professional lens - is its sharpest at f/22. That means that by shooting at f/22, you’re making the image softer. Having a huge depth of field doesn’t matter if the image isn’t sharp!

Instead, strive for a larger aperture opening. Even f/16 will give you noticeably sharper results.

landscape photography tips 2

 photo by raung via iStock

If possible, open the aperture up even further to f/8 or f/11, as these apertures are often the sharpest for most lenses. 

What about depth of field, you ask?

Even at f/8, you can still get everything in the shot from foreground to background nice and sharp, as shown in the image above. Just ensure the nearest element in the photo is six or eight feet away, and you should be just fine.

So, not only will you have a solid depth of field, but you’ll also have a sharper photo. It’s a win-win!

Learn More:

Add Drama With Artificial Lighting

lighting for landscape photography 1

photo by shaunl via iStock

I know what you’re thinking...artificial lighting for landscape photography??

But trust me when I say that adding a splash of light in low-light landscape photos can have a significant, positive impact on the overall appeal of the image.

Take the image above as a perfect example of this concept.

This scene is beautiful with the starry sky above the rocky shore. But by adding illumination from a small light, the details of the shore and the water come through. Those details give this shot an added layer of interest that pairs well with the blanket of stars above.

lighting for landscape photography 2

photo by eal444 via iStock

In this example, adding artificial light to the scene reveals all the cracks in the ice below the man’s feet. 

Not only is this an interesting detail, but it also gives this photo a much greater sense of drama - is the ice in danger of cracking? Will the man get off the ice safely?

These days, adding artificial light to a landscape scene is easier than ever before, too.

I use the tiny LitraPro shown above. It’s supremely portable, rechargeable, and durable, so it is the perfect companion for landscape photography. 

Litra managed to stuff 60 LEDs into this light, which is no small feat considering it weighs just 6 ounces and measures 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches.

With 1200 lumens of light, you can really illuminate the foreground of your landscapes or add interesting beams of soft light - whatever your pleasure!

The LitraPro is bi-color and has an adjustable color temperature of 3,000-6,000K, so again, you can customize the light output to your needs.

Additionally, you get crisp, clean, even, and flicker-free light to add to the gorgeous landscape around you.

Top that all off with MIL-SPEC 810 durability, waterproofness up to 90 feet, Bluetooth control, and a 10-hour battery life on low output, and you have the makings of the perfect light for adding interest to your landscape photos!

Invite Viewers Into the Scene

landscape photography gear

photo by Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock 

A common piece of advice for landscape photographers is to have a strong subject in your photo to help draw viewers into the shot. 

But it isn’t just a strong subject that helps this happen - you need foreground interest to do that as well.

Even though the foreground is likely not the highlight of the shot, you can still use it as a compositional tool that helps the entire image be more successful. 

Having an interesting rock, some leaves floating in a pool of water, or colorful plants (as shown above) in the foreground of your landscape photos serves as a stepping stone to the midground and background of the image.

landscape photography gear 2

photo by ErmakovaElena via iStock  

In other words, think of the foreground of your shots like the introduction to a story - you need a hook, something of interest there to bring people in and direct them toward the body and the conclusion of your visual story, which are in the midground and background, respectively. 

It also helps if you lower the eye level of the shot. Get closer to the ground, and the foreground will take on more prominence, and just might help you lure viewers into the photo.

With these simple landscape photography tips, you’ve got some new tools to use to improve the quality of your photos. Now all that’s left is to grab your camera and go practice!

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4 Must-Have Accessories for Shooting Video

4 Must Have Accessories for Shooting Video

Photo by Chris Murray on Unsplash

I’ve been building my camera equipment stockpile for well over a decade now, and I never feel like I have enough equipment for videography. 

Not only is there constantly something new and interesting I want to buy, but I always have new clients that want really specific, niche videos.  

But over the years, I’ve perfected my basic videography equipment set. Here are the things I think a videographer can’t live without. 

Table of Contents:

A Solid, Yet Portable Video Tripod

accessories for shooting video 1

Photo by Wendy Wei from Pexels

Tripods are incredibly important to a film shoot. They lend stability to your shots, allow you to pan and tilt your camera with ease, and prevent you from getting so wrapped up in your camera that you can’t direct the shoot. 

But, as we all know, all tripods are not alike.

I prefer my tripods to be on the lighter end of things, which allows me to save weight for more important equipment like my lenses. 

accessories for shooting video 2

You’ll also want to look out for a tripod with a fluid head that connects to a bowl (as shown above), which allows for your tripod to bear more weight while keeping your shot level on uneven ground. 

Rubber feet are the most typical feet you’ll see on a tripod, since they allow for a good grip on a variety of surfaces, but if you’re constantly shooting out of doors you may want to purchase spiked feet to keep in your bag too. 

accessories for shooting video 3

Ikan’s EK630 Tripod comes with all these features and more for just $170. It’s adjustable from 29” to 65”, comes with a carrying bag, and can support up to 8.8 pounds of equipment. 

It’s the perfect addition to my camera bag, along with my Canon EOS R and my growing collection of RF lenses.

With a small mirrorless system, I don’t need a big, bulky, heavy tripod to support my gear. Instead, the lightweight design with a mid-level spreader to add stability is just what the doctor ordered!

 

Recommended Videography Reading:

 

A Quality Variable ND Filter to Control Exposure 

videography tips 4

When it’s a bright, sunny day outside and you need to get some footage, you usually have to close the aperture way down to control the exposure of your video.

There’s a problem with this strategy, though - the smaller the aperture, the larger the depth of field.

This isn’t a huge crisis, but depending on the type of video you’re shooting, you might want a nice, blurry background that helps separate the subject in the footage.

To keep the aperture nice and wide, and thereby minimize depth of field, you need a variable ND filter.

videography tips 5

The Kenko PL-Fader is an excellent option because it’s inexpensive, yet durably built to last you for years and years of shooting video.

It has two high-transparency polarizing film layers that give you control over how much light passes through the filter and into the lens.

videography tips 6

This is advantageous for controlling aperture, as mentioned above, but it’s also helpful for controlling the shutter speed. Specifically, if you want to slow down the shutter speed, the PL-Fader will help you do that. 

The easy adjustment knob makes changes to the filter’s light-stopping power a breeze, too, so you can concentrate on capturing the best-quality footage and not worry about complicated changes to your filter!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

A Durable, Bright Light

videography gear 11 2

 photo by goir via iStock 

I have this way of ending up in situations either without my lighting, or with a dead light. So, when you’re shopping for your lighting, make sure to choose one that has a long battery life.

You’ll also want to choose a light that you can throw around a bit. I’ve never dropped a camera, but pretty much everything else in my bag I’m really clumsy with. The problem is that most portable lighting feels really cheap. They’re made out of plastic and they break easily.

videography gear 7

To combat this, use a light from an established company, like Litra. They’re a go to for many videographers for a reason.

When you’re shopping around for your lighting, some other helpful features are waterproofing, different types of camera mounts, and warranties. 

I use the Litra Torch LitraPro, which I purchased off of Adorama for $220.

videography gear 8

I use this light, and specifically this company, for its 1-year warranty. Plus, the light is waterproof at up to 90 feet, it creates bright light across an entire room, and it lasts for up to 10 hours on one charge. 

Add to that full spectrum bi-color, Bluetooth compatibility, adjustable color temperature, and the ability to fully dim, and you have the makings of a top-quality light for video work!  

Learn More:

A Cinema Backpack to Carry It All

videography gear 9

There’s no reason for you to buy all of this gear if you don’t have a way to carry it around. I’ve extensively covered different videography bags over the years on PhotographyTalk, and found that, for the price, the Hex Glacier Cinema Backpack is my absolute favorite.  

Importantly, it’s large enough to fit all of my equipment, which is an asset I’ve struggled to find in the past.

videography gear 10

And no matter how much equipment I’m carrying, the backpack is comfortable because of its thick, padded straps that refuse to dig into my shoulders. 

It’s water resistant, has an abundance of pockets and other organization methods, and is completely customizable to your body type, too.

videography gear 11

This bag is beautifully built, impeccably designed, and offers easy access to all your gear for quick lens changes, swapping out batteries, and so forth.

I can tell that this backpack was created by a fellow videographer, and for $240 I wouldn’t recommend anything else.

Learn More:

 



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4 Ways You Can Improve Your Photos This Weekend

4 ways you can improve your photos this weekendPhoto by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Improving your photography isn't something that has to be a long, drawn-out process.

Sure, time, patience, and lots of practice will certainly help, but that doesn't mean that there aren't quick and simple things you can do this weekend that will improve your ability to take a great photo.

Let's have a look at four ways you can improve your photography before the weekend is over.

Focus on Composition

focus on compositionImage Credit: m-gucci via iStock

First and foremost, what sets professional photos apart from amateur photos is often an eye for composition.

The placement of the subject in the frame, having a strong subject to attract the viewer's eye, and understanding how to utilize tricks like leading lines to create depth in the shot will do tons of good for your photos.

Additionally, being aware of how changing the perspective from which you shoot impacts the look and feel of the image is important if you want to boost the quality of the photos you take.

So, this weekend, be purposeful about not taking photos from your eye level. Instead, get low-angle and high-angle shots that offer the viewer a different take on the subject.

You'll find that by practicing simple composition tips like these that you end up with more unique and dynamic photos.

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Upgrade Your Lens

upgrade your lensPhoto by ShareGrid on Unsplash

One of the smartest things you can do as a photographer is invest in a high-quality lens.

Why?

More than any other piece of gear you have, your lens has the most responsibility for how an image looks.

Sure, your camera does a lot of work, but you can take better photos with an old or cheap camera paired with a really great lens than you can with a high-dollar camera and a cheap lens.

High-quality lenses have better optics, better construction, improved durability, better performance in low-light conditions, wider apertures, and the list goes on and on.

focusing at you picture id914777096 1Image Credit: stockvisual via iStock

If, for example, you're still rocking the kit lens that came with your camera - likely something along the lines of a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 - consider buying a 24-70mm f/4. Better still, try a 24-70mm f/2.8.

In either case, the wider maximum aperture enables you to get better shots in low-light situations. What's more, the wider aperture allows in so much more light that you can use faster shutter speeds. This means you can more readily freeze motion, even when the light isn't ideal, and you can shoot handheld with less worry of camera shake.

But don't buy a new lens - that will cost you an arm and a leg.

lensfinder

Instead, there are plenty of websites - Lensfinder, for example - where you can peruse used lenses and get great deals on high-quality glass that has a lot of life left in it.

The nice thing about sites like Lensfinder is that everything is self-contained - you can communicate with sellers right on the website, pay for your purchase, and even leave feedback once the transaction is complete.

And since Lensfinder is specifically for buying and selling used lenses, you don't have to sift through a million listings that have nothing to do with what you're looking for, as is often the case on eBay and Craigslist.

Buying used can save you a ton of money, too, so you might even be able to get a couple of used lenses (maybe a good zoom and a prime!) for what you'd pay for one brand-new lens.

If that doesn't sound like a good deal, I don't know what does!

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Get a Polarizing Filter

get a better filterPhoto by Carmine Savarese on Unsplash

After you snag a great deal on a lens, you should get a high-quality lens filter to put on the end of it.

And of all the filters you can get, a polarizer is the best one, especially if you shoot landscapes.

In just one filter, you get all of these benefits:

  • Reduced glare off of non-metallic surfaces like water
  • Enhanced contrast in the sky with a deeper blue atmosphere and brighter white clouds
  • Minimize atmospheric haze, so objects far away appear crisper and more defined

KENKO PURO C PL37MM web ST

But like lenses, not all filters are made alike, so buying a cheap one won't do you any favors.

That doesn't mean that all high-quality filters are expensive - just consider Kenko Puro Polarizing Filters as a prime example.

These Japanese-made filters have an exclusively formulated multi-coating that resists water, dust, and oils. Not only does that mean a cleaner shot, but it also means less damage over time to the filter itself.

The filter shown above also has a SLIM ring for mounting to the lens, which has a minimized profile to prevent vignetting, even on wide-angle lenses.

mounting filter on a 24mm lens picture id470747435Image Credit: Dimitris66 via iStock

There's no reason to buy a better lens and put a bargain-basement filter on it - the poorly constructed glass of a bad filter will negate any gains you make with the better lens.

Instead, purchasing a top-of-the-line filter like a Kenko Puro Polarizer will allow you to reap the benefits of a meticulously designed and constructed filter.

As far as improving your photography in short order, it's tough to top what a good polarizer can do!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

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Spend Time Thinking About Why You Like Certain Photos

young asian man working at home picture id904439016Image Credit: Bearinmind via iStock

One of the easiest things you can do to help advance your photography is to spend some time looking at other people's photos.

And I don't just mean taking a cursory glance at them, either...

Instead, really focus on what it is about certain photos that you like. Is it the lighting? The colors? The subject matter?

Maybe you like how the photo was edited. Perhaps the perspective is what interests you.

The point is that by taking a deep dive into other people's images, a couple of things happen for you.

good company is just a call away picture id855341616Image Credit: PeopleImages via iStock

First, you begin to develop your creative eye and notice things about photos that you might like to try or might make your photos look better.

Second, you develop a critical eye as well. In addition to discovering what you like, you'll also find plenty of things you don't like.

In the end, this will all help you grow as a photographer because you'll discover what you should and shouldn't do with your own photos.

Give these four things a shot this weekend. You might just find that it opens you up to all kinds of new creative photography possibilities!

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5 Budget-Friendly Filters

5 budget friendly filtersPhoto by DieterMeyrl via iStock

Let's face it...

Photography is expensive enough as it is, so after you buy a camera and a lens or two, you might feel your pocketbook complaining.

But there are accessories you need to enhance your ability to use your new camera and lenses to their fullest extent. This includes a quality lens filter.

Some lens filters are extremely expensive - like as much as a camera body! But you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a quality filter. The filters I've listed below prove that point.

Best Budget-Friendly Filters: Circular Polarizers

Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer

best budget friendly filtersPhoto by Gary Gray via iStock

If you ask me, there is no more important filter to buy than a circular polarizer.

That's because a polarizing filter can have a positive impact on your photos in a whole host of ways.

They cut down glare off of non-metallic surfaces like water and they also help boost the contrast in the sky for a deeper blue atmosphere and whiter clouds.

Additionally, a polarizing filter cuts down on atmospheric haze so distant elements in the shot appear to be crisper, as shown in the image above.

If you're after a budget-friendly polarizer, look no further than the Kenko Nyumon polarizer shown above.

This filter is crafted using optical-quality glass that's polished and coated to repel everything from water droplets to the oils from your skin.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

On top of that, Kenko has smartly mounted it in a SLIM ring, that way there's less chance of vignetting occurring when using a wide-angle lens.

kenko 37mm filter

There's a wide range of sizes available as well, so virtually any lens you have, Kenko likely has a polarizer to fit.

And starting at less than $15.00, these things are easy on your bank account too!

Learn more about the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter

Hoya Alpha Circular Polarizer

hoya 2

Another budget-friendly option in the circular polarizer department is the Hoya Alpha shown above.

Like the Kenko version discussed earlier, this filter helps eliminate polarized light by absorbing it, the effect of which is increased clarity and contrast in your photos.

This filter is made of optical-quality glass and is housed in a precision-milled aluminum frame.

hoya best budget friendly filters

Additionally, Hoya has manufactured the filter to have approximately 96 percent average light transmission and a 3-4x filter factor that reduces the exposure by 1.6-2 stops.

The only downside to this filter is that it is non-coated, so it might have trouble shedding rain, snow, and oils from skin.

Still, starting at about $27, this filter might be worth it given its low price point.

Learn more about the Hoya Alpha Circular Polarizing Filter 

Best Budget-Friendly Filters: Variable NDs

Kenko Variable NDX

best budget friendly variable nd filterPhoto by miroslav_1 via iStock 

In another entry for Kenko, their Variable NDX filter can save you hundreds of dollars by offering a range of light-stopping power in a single filter that would otherwise require you to buy an entire filter pack.

Like the circular polarizer reviewed earlier, this variable ND filter screws onto the end of your lens and is adjustable by rotating the filter in the filter housing.

Rotate the filter one way to lighten the effect and the other way to darken the effect.

In fact, this single filter offers a range of 1.3 to 8.5 stops, which translates into a factor range of ND 2.5-450. It's even extendable to ND1000 for getting gorgeous long exposures even in broad daylight.

True to form, Kenko has constructed this filter with the highest-quality materials. That includes two pieces of polarizing glass that are mounted opposite one another that allows you to darken or lighten the filter as needed.

Additionally, this filter has no color shifting, so you get hyper-neutral color balance in your photos. That's not something all variable ND filters can claim...

This filter runs about $240, which might seem steep, but considering a complete ND filter pack with the same light-stopping power could set you back two or three times more, this is definitely a budget-friendly option!

Learn more about the Kenko Professional Variable NDX Filter

Tiffen Variable ND Filter

budget friendly filters tiffen 1

A second option for budget-minded buyers looking for a quality variable ND filter is the Tiffen Variable ND.

This filter has a built-in rotating ring just like the Kenko filter discussed above. This allows you to have pinpoint control over how much or little light-stopping power the filter produces.

This particular model controls the exposure from ND 0.6-2.4, which is good for 2-8 stops.

tiffen 2

Tiffen has developed what they call ColorCore technology, which helps ensure that their filters provide hyper-neutral results. This is good considering many budget variable ND filters have a distinct color cast.

What's more, this ColorCore treatment helps control the density of the filtration which results in better control with exact degrees of filtration for your photos.

At around $90 for a 77mm filter, it's a bargain as well!

Learn more about the Tiffen Variable ND Filter

Best Budget-Friendly Filters: Solid ND Filters

Breakthrough Photography 3-Stop Solid ND Filter

breakthrough tech 1

If it's an inexpensive ND filter you're after, the Breakthrough Photography 3-Stop ND filter is a great choice.

If you've never heard of breakthrough photography, you aren't alone. Though they don't have the name recognition of the other manufacturers on this list, their filters get high marks (about 4.5 stars on Amazon).

This filter has a uniform layer of MRC8 applied to the filter glass to eliminate flare and ghosting, both of which are often exacerbated when using long exposures.

This layer is also super tough, so it helps create a scratch-resistant protection on the filter glass.

This particular filter is the popular 3-stop version, which allows you to create long exposures that are seconds long during the daytime.

Breakthrough Photography uses H-K9L optical glass for these filters, so it's optical quality for excellent clarity.

The frame is precision-machined and coated in a matte black finish to eliminate reflections from the housing.

Add in a nanotec coating to repel dirt and water, and you have the makings of a top-notch ND filter without busting your budget (a 77mm version of this filter is just $89).

Learn more about the Breakthrough Photography 3-Stop Solid ND Filter

5 Landscape Photography Accessories You Can’t Live Without

5 Landscape Photography Accessories You Cant Live Without

Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

There’s nothing like a crisp, cool morning, a cup of coffee and hours of shooting landscapes. I’m lucky enough to have travelled all over the world shooting landscapes for my clients, and I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way.  

Namely, the landscape photography accessories you bring on any trip can make or break it. But, since there are thousands of landscape photography accessories, it can be difficult to choose which ones are important enough to drag all the way to Bolivia, or on an 8-hour hike through Glacier National Park.

This is an overview of the accessories for landscape photography that I always bring with me. 

Table of Contents

A Good Polarizing Filter

landscape photography accessories 1

photo by Алексей Филатов via iStock 

I write so much about polarizing filters on PhotographyTalk because they’re important in an age of Photoshop and Lightroom. 

Though I process my images as much as the next guy, nothing can replace the effect a polarizer can have on your images.  

Polarizing filters make the sky a deeper blue, reduce glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, and they reduce atmospheric haze.

And there’s a reason you can now purchase a polarizing filter for your iPhone camera.

Now, it’s also important to remember that not all polarizing filters work the same…

a good polarizing filter

I always recommend Kenko when I’m discussing polarizing filters. The Kenko Nyumon Slim Circular Polarizer is cheap for its quality at $45. This polarizer is multi-coated to protect itself from the environment, think harsh wind that throws sand at it or inadvertent finger prints. 

It also features a mounting ring that never gets snagged, which is a godsend considering what working with cheaper polarizers means (spending 30 seconds screwing and unscrewing the filter onto your lens). 

This is a great example of “you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot.” A great polarizer is something everyone needs, and at this price point, you can afford it!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Protection from the Elements 

landscape photography 2

photo by Sandra Dombrovsky via iStock 

When you think about landscape photography accessories, chances are you’re thinking about how to prevent yourself from getting soaked and thinking less about how to prevent your equipment from getting soaked.

After all, everyone just uses that big plastic bag to prevent their cameras from getting rained on and you’re going to be miserable all day if you’re wet in near freezing conditions.

But, there are better options to protect your camera from the rain. 

protection from the elements

I bought a Camera Canopy a few years ago and never looked back. 

Camera Canopy is a technology that prevents both your DSLR and your mirrorless camera from getting rained on, snowed on or sleeted on. It’s made of two retractable shields, meaning you can adjust the length of protection as easily as you adjust your lens. 

It easily fastens onto your camera’s hot shoe and it gives you a complete free range of motion that plastic bags will never accommodate. 

Plus, Camera Canopy is a relatively cheap investment into your landscape photography at just $88 for your DSLR or $60 for your mirrorless. 

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A Sturdy Tripod 

landscape photography gear 3

Photo by insung yoon on Unsplash 

Have you ever had your tripod fall over with your camera attached? Sadly, I have and I’m now on a personal mission to make sure it never happens to another photographer. 

When you’re on top of a mountain, facing 40mph wind, just about anything can happen and I’m going to be more concerned for my own safety than the safety of my camera if it comes down to it. 

While I’m of course not advocating for shooting in dangerous weather conditions, sometimes these conditions produce the best photos, and for these times you need a heavy duty tripod in your landscape photography gear. 

a sturdy tripod

Ikan’s 2 Stage Aluminum Tripod is by far the best tripod for landscape photography I’ve ever found. 

First of all, it’s solid and structurally sound. It has multiple leg stages with individual leg locks at each. 

It also features incredible anti-slip pads/spike covers on each leg that can be removed when they aren’t needed.  

At $170, this tripod will last you a lifetime and do so without breaking the bank. 

A Bright, Compact Light

accessories for landscape photography 4

Photo by 2 Bro’s Media on Unsplash 

While golden hour is the hotspot for landscape photographers, sometimes you just need to keep shooting. 

After all, there’s no sense in traveling as much as you do if you aren’t going to take complete advantage of it. 

While I use my LED light to fill the foreground for beautiful twilight shots, I also use LED lights to be a little more creative with light painting.

landscape photography gear 5

Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash 

Light painting is the art of lighting up specific portions of your landscape at night, usually with an array of different colors, while capturing the night sky in the background.

It’s beautiful and a very specific niche in landscape photography that I think everyone should try at least once.

But, in order to do so you first need the light.

a bright compact light

Litra sort of rules the compact lighting game. Their Torch LitraPro is no different. It’s the LED light I have and it’s the one I recommend to all of my friends.

Firstly, you can control the light from an app on your phone, which is one of the first qualities I look for in a compact light. I want the equipment to do as much work as possible so I can focus on the photography.  

It’s only 5” long, so I can throw it in my camera bag, and it’s bi-color. It’s also a fully dimmable light.

Plus, Litra understands remote shooting better than most companies, so this light can last for up to 10 hours on one battery charge on low, or up to 1 hour on high. 

Finally, it’s waterproof. What’s not to love?  

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A Weather-Resistant Camera Bag 

holdfast 1

While your canvas camera bag might work in the city, it’s not going to work in the snowy mountains of Colorado, and if you’re planning to do landscape photography for a long time then it may be time to upgrade. 

Out of all of these must-have landscape photography accessories, you’re not going to get very far without a weather-resistant camera bag. Think about it… there’s no point in protecting your camera while you’re shooting if you’re not protecting it while you’re traveling to and from your shoot site.

holdfast 2

Holdfast’s Sightseer Backpack is made out of waxed canvas and comes with waterproof zippers, so it keeps the rain out while still protecting your gear with fleece lining. 

This backpack is also the only camera bag in the world that comes with an integrated camera slider which allows you to have access to your camera at all times.  

While any Holdfast purchases are an investment, this Sightseer backpack, which is sold for $800, comes with a lifetime warranty. If you ask me, it’s a much better idea than buying a $100 bag every year for the rest of your life. 

Bonus: A Fun Way to Display Your Favorite Photos

Don't get me wrong...I love a nice, big print of a landscape photo.

But sometimes you need to switch things up a little bit and have ways to show off your best shots in a unique way. For me, that means using Snaptiles.

Just a couple of months ago, I talked about why Snaptiles won me over on my Best of 2019 list. In short, Snaptiles photo tiles offer an innovative way to display multiple photos without damaging your wall.

Here's how they work...

You attach an anchor piece to the wall using four adhesive strips. Then, you can add up to 12 Snaptiles photo tiles to the anchor image using the rare earth magnets in the tiles. In other words, you can have a complete photo display with zero holes in the wall to show for it. Nice!

If you want to create a much larger display of photo tiles, you can simply use the four thumbtacks you get with your Snaptiles to add more support. And those four thumbtacks enable you to display up to 30 images. That's not bad at all!

What's more, since the Snaptiles photo tiles are connected with magnets, you can create all kinds of shapes in your photo display. You can also change the way the photos are displayed as often as you like.

So, with a traditional large format print, you're "stuck" looking at the same image each day, which isn't a bad thing! But having the ability to look at up to 30 of your favorite landscape photos and having the ability to change how that display looks in a matter of minutes is an awfully attractive proposition, don't you think?

Get all the details on Snaptiles and see why these photo tiles are a must for displaying your landscape photos.

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5 Landscape Photography Tips for Vastly Improved Photos

5 Landscape Photography Tips for Vastly Improved Photos

Photo by Luca Bravo via Unsplash

When I began my landscape photography journey, I knew next to nothing (as is the case when you’re just starting out!).

I didn’t know that I could practice in my own backyard with the equipment I had on hand. Then, when I began to hone my craft, I didn’t know anything about landscape photography-centric gear.

For example, I didn’t know what a circular polarizer was; I definitely didn’t know how to use a circular polarizer. Plus, I didn’t even own a wide-angle lens.  

If you’re like I was and are looking to this article because you see room for improvement in your landscape photography, then I’ve got a few tricks of the trade for you!

Table of Contents

Use a Wide-Angle Lens

circular polarizer

 photo by Markus Spiske

Nothing says drama like a landscape that was shot with a wide-angle lens. 

While I find it especially interesting to shoot with a wide-angle lens on gloomy days, or in gloomy atmospheres (Scotland, anyone?), wide-angle lenses add tons of depth to landscape images because they can incorporate so much foreground interest in the shot.

Nigel Danson, one of my favorite YouTube photographers, has taught me so much about shooting landscape pictures. 

He covers everything you need to know about wide-angle lenses in the video above, from how to care for your wide-angle lens to how to shoot with it.  

One pro tip Nigel forgets to mention, though, is that when you’re shooting with a wide-angle lens, you should do so from unique angles.

I hate when a photographer slaps a wide-angle lens on and then only shoots from the same spot that everyone else does. 

Don’t hamper your creativity by not putting your wide-angle lens to its best use. Move around. Change the eye level of your shots. Get super low to the ground. Find foreground interest. To get the most out of a wide-angle lens, you’ve got to work for it! 

Get a Circular Polarizer for Your Wide-Angle Lens

how to use a circular polarizer

 photo by William Bayreuther

Circular polarizers nowadays are nothing like they used to be, and I hate that seasoned photographers aren’t teaching beginner photographers how to use them.

I’ve talked about circular polarizers a lot on PhotographyTalk. Mostly because I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how they work, but also because I don’t want the art of using a circular polarizer to die out.

kenko puro polarizer

My favorite circular polarizer is this slim one by Kenko. 

I always recommend purchasing a slim polarizer because they prevent vignetting in your photos. This is a big deal because one of the main complaints photographers have about polarizers is that the vignetting is so bad. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

But, since Kenko crafted their polarizer with a slim ring, you don’t have to worry about it! That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s one of the best circular polarizers on the market.

kenko 12

Kenko only supplied their filters to Japanese photographers for a long time, but when they hit the American market, it proved just how bad some of the circular polarizers we had at the time were. Now we can enjoy reduced glare, less haze, and more contrast in our images.

If you like these benefits of a polarizer, make sure you buy oneso you’ll have it on deck next time you’re shooting a gorgeous landscape. 

Learn More:

Add People or Objects  

circular polarizer tips

photo by Pietro de Grandi

Landscape photographers shouldn’t forget that you can take photos of landscapes and people, and no it doesn’t necessarily have to be a hero shot! 

So, the traditional hero shot that we are almost all sick of looks something like this:

best circular polarizer

Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

The person is dead center in this landscape, and their prominent position is a bit off-putting 

One of the best tips I can give to a landscape photographer is to include people in your shot, but to place them slightly off center. It draws the viewer’s attention much better than a hero shot (rule of thirds, of course) and it doesn’t look as cliche. 

Including people or manmade objects, like the canoe above, is statistically proven to draw more attention to a photo than a photo without any people. 

Plus, adding people or objects to your shots make them more likely to perform better on Instagram, which is important for your marketing!

Incorporate Movement 

benefits of a polarizer

photo by 4kodiak via iStock 

Landscape photographers who have been in the business for a while know that movement is an excellent addition to your photos.

Whether the movement is in the clouds and water, like the photo above, or in blowing grass or a moving train, movement adds a sense of presence to your landscape photography.

Photos with movement have a dynamic feel about them, as though something is going on that the viewer needs to inspect more closely.

And that’s exactly what you want in your photos - to have something that reaches out, grabs the viewer, and piques their interest. Movement can do just that.

Use Water as a Mirror

landscape photography tips

photo by DenisTangneyJr via iStock 

Polarizing filters do something incredible with your landscape shots: they allow you to use water as a mirror without worrying about glare off of its surface.

I am a particular fan of using water as a mirror in landscape photography. It adds dimension to your photos and when the scene is rather dark, like in the image above, the water helps brighten the foreground so you get a better exposure.

Of course, the best time to get a mirrorlike shot is in the early morning or late evening when the wind is calm. Look for days with dramatic skies, like above, or hunt for the perfect sunrise or sunset photo. The colors of the sky will add even more drama to the shot!

Give each of these tips a try, and you’ll find that improving your landscape photos is actually much easier than you might think. Good luck!

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A Quick Primer on How Variable ND Filters Work

what is a variable nd filter

Not all that long ago, I used a complete ND filter kit - I had five rectangular ND filters and a filter holder to carry around.

I’m not knocking the performance of that filter kit because it was great. But eventually I got tired of having all that stuff in my camera bag. I also got tired of constantly attaching the filter holder, unattaching it, inserting filters, swapping filters out, and so forth.

That’s when I decided a variable ND filter was the way to go.

In this article, learn what a variable ND filter is and how variable ND filters work. 

What is a Variable ND Filter?

best variable nd filter

As you might have surmised already, a variable ND filter is like a bunch of ND filters in one, thus the “variable” part of its name. Like traditional ND filters, variable ND filters block out different levels of light. 

Rather than having a big filter kit with various filters, each with a different degree of filtering power, a variable ND filter simply screws onto the end of your lens.

In that regard, it’s much more user-friendly, both from the standpoint of having less stuff in your bag and not having to fool around with multiple filters every time you want to take a shot.

Learn More:

How Variable ND Filters Work 

why variable nd filters are better than fixed nd filter

The premise of how variable ND filters work is quite straightforward.

It’s able to block out light because of the manner in which it’s constructed - there’s two layers of polarized glass positioned opposite one another. The inner layer of glass is what attaches to the lens, and is fixed in place. The outer layer of glass is housed in a ring that allows the filter to rotate.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Since it’s fixed in position, the inner layer of glass reduces light on a single plane. The outer layer, however, can reduce light to a varying degree because it can rotate. That is, the further the outer layer is rotated, the more light-reducing power it has. 

In other words, as the outer layer of glass approaches a 90-degree angle to the inner layer of glass, the maximum light-reducing power is achieved.

Why Variable ND Filters are Beneficial

how to use a variable nd filter

As noted above, variable ND filters are simply easier to use than a traditional ND filter setup.

Rather than inserting individual ND filters in to a housing, you can simply rotate the outermost layer of glass of a variable ND filter to get the desired effect.

What’s nice about this is that you can fine-tune the filtering power to a precise degree to get the exact outcome you want. That is, where a fixed ND filter has a set amount of light-stopping power, a variable ND filter gives you a range from which to choose, usually from about 1-stop to 8-stops.

As you can see above, the lens housing has markings that indicate which way to turn the filter to increase or decrease its effects.

Another benefit of good variable ND filters is that they don’t display the dreaded X-pattern that you often find in bargain variable ND filters. See how this can be accomplished in the video above by Kenko Global

This X-pattern occurs when you push the filter too far to its minimum or maximum range, at which point the two filter elements begin to interfere with one another. This pattern can also emerge on very long exposure.

Photographers like variable ND filters because they make composing images much easier than standard ND filters do. By that, I mean that you can rotate the filter to a minimal degree of filtration, compose the shot, and then adjust the filtration to the desired level.

why variable nd filters are beneficial

photo by RobChristiaans via iStock 

This is particularly handy when you needa lotof filtering power, like 10 stops, to create dreamy scenes like the one above. If you use a fixed ND filter, all that light-stopping power makes it virtually impossible to see the scene through the viewfinder. Granted, you can compose the shot ahead of time and then add a fixed filter, but simply being able to turn a variable ND filter to adjust it is much more convenient.

Of course, like fixed ND filters, variable ND filters offer the benefit of allowing you to slow down the shutter speed to blur motion or open up the aperture to reduce the depth of field.

These are important factors that can be used for all kinds of photography, from portraits to landscapes, street photography to action photography.

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Invest in a Good Variable ND Filter 

benefits of variable nd filters

As noted above, good variable ND filters minimize the X-pattern you find in cheaper versions. With improved optics and build quality, higher-end variable ND filters will also last you a lot longer than some cheap thing you pick up on Amazon.

I use the Kenko Variable NDX filter, and it has been a joy, to say the least.

Like any good filter, it offers hyper-neutral results with no color casting. That’s thanks in large part to its Japanense Asahi Optical Glass and match polarization foils.

how variable nd filters work

 photo by miroslav_1 via iStock

I also like the fact that there’s so much variability with this filter - from 1.5 stops up to 10 stops. From slight motion blur in a waterfall to ethereal landscapes in which the rolling tide is rendered beautifully smooth, this filter can do it all!

And since it has such a wide range of filtering power, there’s no need to stack filters, and that means less vignetting for a cleaner, crisper shot from edge to edge.

Give the Kenko Variable NDX filter a try, and you’ll see that it is well worth the investment!


 



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Avoid These Common Circular Polarizer Mistakes

Avoid These Common Circular Polarizer Mistakes

 photo by0804Creative via iStock

Using a circular polarizer when shooting landscape photos has become a de-facto standard.  

But, here’s the truth.

Not all landscape shots need or should use a circular polarizer.

Sometimes, using a circular polarizer can actually ruin your otherwise great outdoor shots.

So, when should you use one? And what common circular polarizer mistakes should you avoid? Let’s find out.

What Does a Circular Polarizer Do?

Let’s first understand the benefits of using a circular polarizer. As the video above by Brain Matiash explains, there are mainly three reasons to use a circular polarizer.

Using the filter:

  • Helps reduce any glare on water or glass surfaces
  • Accentuates certain colors to add some contrast to your scene
  • Helps reduce the intensity of light and colors, much like an ND filter.

circular polarizer mistakes

photo by ithinksky via iStock 

If you think you can do all that in post, think again. First of all, you cannot remove surface reflections with Photoshop. Plus, the warm effects a good-quality polarizer filter like the Kenko Nyumon (shown below) brings to your photos are almost impossible to replicate in post.

Kenko 1

However, if you don’t know how and when to use a circular polarizer, using it could do more harm than good to your landscape photos. So, here are some common circular polarizer mistakes you must avoid.

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Polarizer Mistake #1: Ignoring the 90 Degree Rule

common circular polarizer mistakes

 photo by Capuski via iStock 

There are just some rules that you need to follow. When shooting with a polarizing filter, you should point your camera at 90 degrees to the sun. In other words, you should avoid shooting with the sun directly in front or behind you.

Point your camera either to the left or to the right of the sun. That way, you can get the best polarizing effect in your photos. The further you get from 90 degrees the less effective the filter is.

Polarizer Mistake #2: Shooting the Sky with a Wide-Angle Lens

how to use a circular polarizer 2

  photo by adempercem via iStock

This is another common mistake you should avoid when you’re using a polarizing filter. If, for instance, you shoot the blue sky with a wide-angle lens, the wide field of view of your lens means that it would cover a long stretch of the blue sky.

The result could be an image darker on the outer edges and brighter in the center or vice versa. This happens because when you are covering a wide area of the sky, the sunlight doesn’t come to your camera from the same angle. This is commonly known as vignetting or light fall-off.  

Most LCD monitors cannot properly display the vignetting in the corners of an image. So when you’ll finally notice this problem, it would be too late to fix the problem.

This is exactly why you should use a circular polarizer with a wide-angle lens. Consider using a lens with a focal length of 35mm and longer.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

Polarizer Mistake #3: Over-Polarizing 

when to use a circular polarizer

 photo by romansl via iStock 

While a polarizer helps reduce surface reflections or glare, you may not want to remove reflections altogether from your composition. Also, you don’t necessarily need to use a polarizer every time you’re shooting wet rocks or wet leaves.

Even when you are using one, make sure not to overdo it. You can turn a nice blue sky to almost black by over-polarizing it.

When it comes to photographing a rainbow, a polarizing filter can actually make it look more vibrant in your photos. But if you overdo the polarization, you can completely remove the rainbow from your image. So always rotate the circular polarizer to control the amount of reflections or glare you want to keep in your photos.

Learn More:

Polarizer Mistake #4: Selecting a Wide Aperture 

how to use a circular polarizer

 photo by Kesu01 via iStock 

When shooting a landscape photo with a polarizer, consider avoiding a wide aperture.

One rule of thumb is to select an aperture of f/8 or smaller with a polarizer. Otherwise, you may end up with some image corner vignetting.

Another thing to keep in mind is this: a circular polarizer can underexpose your photos by as much as two stops. So, keep that in mind when setting the exposure for your shots.

Polarizer Mistake #5: Not Using a Thin Polarizer With a Wide-Angle Lens

kenko 2

A polarizer is typically quite thick. When you combine a thick polarizer with a wide-angle lens, it may result in some amount of image corner vignetting.

So, if you are planning to use a polarizer with a wide-angle lens, consider buying a thin polarizer. 

The Kenko Nyumon circular polarizer I mentioned earlier (and which is shown above) has a slim mounting ring that helps prevent vignetting.

Additionally, this polarizer’s mounting ring has a black, anti-reflective coating which helps prevent flare and reflection off of the mounting ring.

While a thin polarizer could cost you a few bucks more, it helps create visually pleasing images with no corner vignetting.

Luckily, Kenko’s slim polarizers are very budget-friendly, so you get the pleasing effects of a slim polarizer without busting your budget!

 



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Basic Landscape Photography Composition Tips

Basic Landscape Photography Composition Tips

Photo by 🧔 Michal Kmeť on Unsplash

It took me quite a few years as a beginner photographer to understand the importance of landscape photography composition tips.

I made a ton of mistakes as a beginning landscape photographer: I tried to cram too much into each photo, I relied too heavily on the “perfect” lighting, and I didn’t understand how to compose a landscape photo at all.

Then I decided to get serious about improving my compositions, and the following tips helped me achieve that goal.

Table of Contents

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Use Your Foreground to Your Advantage

NatureTTL is one of my favorite landscape photography YouTubers because they focus on basic composition tips for landscapes that others ignore, like using your foreground to your advantage. 

Foregrounds are present in every good landscape photograph, but sometimes they become a forgotten aspect of the shot. But, I’m of the belief that as a photographer you need to learn to pay attention to the white noise in your photographs. 

Plus, focusing on the marginalized aspects of your landscape photography is one of many easy landscape photography composition tips because it teaches you to look where others aren’t. 

landscape photography tips

Photo by Matteo Minelli on Unsplash 

Take, for example, this photograph of a lake. It reminds me of summer camp as a child and the reason why it does this is the centralized aspect of the photo: the dock. 

I spent endless summers kayaking from and jumping off docks with my friends. But, the dock is a relatively small part of this photo, so why are your eyes immediately drawn to it?

The foreground leads you there. Nearly half of the photo is taken up by the long grass in the foreground, but the vertical lines of the grass automatically lead your eyes deeper into the photo, straight to the dock. 

I doubt this photo would feel so sentimental to me without the action of the foreground elements driving my eyes deeper into the shot.

 

Editor's Tip: One of the best ways to highlight the foreground of a landscape photo taken at sunrise or sunset is to use a light to illuminate it. I carry the Litra Pro for this purpose because it's compact and easy to transport, yet has 60 LEDs that put out 1200 lumens of light. This bi-color light has an adjustable color temperature, a 10-hour battery life, and is waterproof and rugged to stand up to the most challenging landscape photography conditions. Grab one today, and see how easy it is to create more dynamic landscape photos!

 

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Composition and Light Work Together

In the above video, Joshua Cripps Photography focuses on 4 elements that play into each landscape photograph, but I want to talk specifically about two of them: composition and light.

 Look how the light spills across the landscape in the image below. Striking, isn’t it?

 There are a couple of elements to the light that make it so eye-catching - its color and is direction.

photography composition tips

Photo by Simon Matzinger on Unsplash 

Shooting during golden hour is one of the most recommended landscape photography tips there is, and for good reason.

 Light near sunrise and sunset is soft, warm, and falls gently on the landscape to give it a warm glow.

 Additionally, since the sun is so low in the sky, it creates opportunities to use sidelighting to highlight features like the mountain ridges in the image above while also allowing you to incorporate beautifully long, soft shadows into the shot.

 The manner in which this image is composed helps accentuate that light, too. Shifting the horizon lower in the frame gives more area to show off that beautiful golden hour lighting.

Learn More:

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Elements Out 

how to compose a landscape photo 1

Photo by David Wirzba on Unsplash 

Sometimes landscape photographs that are simple are the best. 

Never be afraid to cut clutter out of your photographs. You don’t need an ultra-wide angle lens to cram every single detail into every single shot to get pleasing results. 

Take the photo above as a great example.

The scene is quite pretty, but there is just too much clutter in the shot, namely the dead tree occupying the middle of the foreground. There is simply no reason to feature that tree when you have soaring, snow-covered peaks to serve as the focal point of the shot.

Had the photographer moved a few feet to the right, there would have been an unobstructed view of the mountains, and it might’ve been a much more powerful shot.

how to compose a landscape photo 2

 photo by Pilat666 via iStock 

The image above is a better example of how a simpler composition can result in a better photo.

Notice that in this case there are no distracting elements in the middle of the frame or in the foreground.

Instead, our eyes are able to move freely from the foreground to the midground, where the trees closing in on either side of the shot direct our eyes further back to the mountains in the background.

 Everything in your landscape photo should add to the artistic integrity of the piece, which is advice that doesn’t necessarily go beyond most basic composition tips for landscapes.

So, before you frame up your shots, think purposefully for a few moments about whether or not each element in the composition should be there.

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Use Man Made Objects to Show the Scale of the Scene

basic composition tips for landscapes 1

 Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

Feel free to use people, or man made objects, in your landscape photography as often as you’d like. 

There is no bad time to help the viewer understand just how grand the landscape is, especially when you’re photographing something extremely large like a mountain or lake.

basic composition tips for landscapes 2

  photo by Oleh_Slobodeniuk via iStock

All of the objects you use should be relatively simple for the viewer to understand, and it should be an object that the viewer knows is a certain size.  

I understand that you’re usually working to keep people out of your photographs when you’re shooting landscape photography, but this compositional trick can result in much more captivating photos. 

In the image above, for example, the presence of the woman in the foreground serves as a visual anchor for the shot while also informing us as to the size and scale of the scene before her.

basic composition tips for landscapes 3

 photo by Mumemories via iStock 

But adding human elements to landscape photos doesn’t mean those elements have to be large in the shot.

Take the image above as a prime example of this - the hiker is minute compared to their surroundings, yet our eyes are immediately drawn to him.

This is due to the fact that our eyes are naturally drawn to the human form - no matter how little space it might occupy in the shot. Additionally, the footprints in the snow serve as a leading line (another trick you can employ!) to draw our attention even further to the human figure.

The result is a shot with more visual interest and depth, just as you want!

Landscape Photography Composition Tips: Showcase Motion

easy landscape photography composition tips 1

Photo by Cosmic Timetraveler on Unsplash 

Water is the easiest thing to show moving in your landscape photography, but it isn’t the only thing. Use flying birds, swaying grass or trees, and clouds to showcase the natural beauty of a scene.

You’ll definitely need a tripod in order to showcase motion in your landscape photography. You’ll also need an ND filter if you’re planning on photographing moving water.

easy landscape photography composition tips 2

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash 

Additionally, you’ll need to outfit your camera with a good neutral density filter.

The operative word here is “good.”

Cheap neutral density filters aren’t neutral at all. Instead, they might have a color cast that turns your photo blue or brown.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Quality neutral density filters, like the Kenko Variable NDX shown below, offer the best of both worlds - you get the light-stopping power you need to extend the shutter speed to blur motion while avoiding those nasty color casts of cheaper ND filters.

kenko

Better still, this is a variable ND filter, so you get the functionality of multiple NDs in one easy-to-use filter. 

Just mount it on your lens like you would a circular polarizer, and then to adjust the strength of the filter, simply turn the filter in its housing. 

It doesn’t get any easier than that!

kenko 2

With a density range of 1.5-10 stops, you can very gently blur movement or you can induce dreamy, ethereal movement with mintues-long exposures, even in the daytime.

This filer is crafted of fine Japanese Asahi Optical Glass and has match polarization foils that create virtually no color shift.

The result? Clean, crisp, and beautiful landscape photos!

Get more details on the Kenko Variable NDX filter.

Learn More: 

 



We Recommend


Beginner Black and White Photography Tips

Beginner Black and White Photography Tips

 photo byIanChrisGraham via iStock

Call me old fashioned, but there’s just something about a good black and white photo.

Don’t get me wrong - color photography has its merits, but a monochrome image can sometimes elevate the quality of the shot while also helping you tell a more compelling story with the photo.

That’s because color can sometimes be a distraction; by removing it, you’re left with an image that often draws the attention of the viewer more effectively and brings focus on the mood and emotion of the shot in a way that a color image can’t match.

That being the case, let’s take a look at a few beginner black and white photography tips so you can experience the rush of creating an epic black and white photograph. 

Look at the Light

landscape photography tips 1

photo byLana2011 via iStock

Some people believe that black and white photography is well-suited for poor lighting. This simply isn’t the case.

Whether you shoot in color or convert the image to black and white, you need to have good lighting to get a good result.

It’s true that black and white images are more forgiving of bad light (i.e., high-contrast light that washes out colors or flat light that minimizes contrast), but ultimately, you still need a quality of light that gives you good dynamic range (the range of whites to blacks) that gives the shot the contrast it needs.

landscape photography tips 2

 photo by nikamata via iStock

Look at the portrait above, and compare the quality of light in it with the image above it. 

Notice how in the portrait of the older man, there’s really beautiful light that reveals the texture of the man’s skin while also brightening it to separate it from the background.

In the previous image, however, the quality of light isn’t quite the same - it’s very flat and doesn’t offer much in the way of defining the features of the young man’s face.

So, don’t assume that because the light isn’t ideal that a black and white photo will rescue you. You still need good light, and good natural light is often found in the early morning or early evening.

Learn More

Use a Filter to Enhance the Shot 

kenko polarizer 1

One of the simplest things you can do to improve the quality of your black and white images is to use a circular polarizing filter. 

These filters serve a multitude of purposes, including reducing glare off non-metallic objects (like water), minimizing atmospheric haze, and boosting the contrast of the sky.

When you convert an image to black and white that was shot with a circular polarizer, you can get dramatic effects, particularly in the sky. This is because the contrast the polarizer adds to the sky makes the skies appear darker, and therefore more dramatic.

kenko polarizer 3 

Using a polarizing filter is a lot easier than you might think, so don’t let it scare you off!

Really, you just screw the filter on the end of your lens, position the sun as close to a 90-degree angle from your camera as you can, and adjust the filter in its housing to increase or decrease its polarizing strength.

kenko polarizer 2 

Another component of this is to use a quality filter. After all, if you buy a bargain filter that’s made with subpar glass, it will reduce the image quality by making the image soft, or blurry.

Kenko’s Slim Circular Polarizer is an excellent option for beginner black and white photographers because it’s affordable, yet made using the finest-quality materials for top-notch results.

The precision optical Asahi glass used to create the filter is specifically designed to maximize image quality. Not only does this help keep images sharp, but the multi-coatings on the filter glass resist water, dust, and smudges, so you can worry less about whether the filter is dirty and more about taking gorgeous shots.

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

Look for Patterns, Shapes, and Textures 

black and white photography tips1

 photo by RelaxFoto.de via iStock 

In the absence of color, patterns, shapes, and textures take on added importance in a black and white photo because they add to the visual appeal of the image. 

The human eye is naturally drawn to patterns, so their ordered repetition can be a great addition to a black and white photo. In fact, as shown above, the pattern itself can become the primary subject!

black and white photography tips 2

  photo by baona via iStock

Likewise, emphasizing shapes in a black and white image can garner some interesting results.

As shown above, the spiral form of the staircase is immediately eye-catching and draws your eye downward “into” the shot. As a result, the strength of that shape in this image gives the photo much more perceived depth.

black and white photography tips 3

  photo by teddybearpicnic via iStock

Textures are yet another feature to look for when composing your black and white shots. 

Like patterns, textures can often repeat, giving our eyes something eye-catching and pleasing to view.

In the case of the image above, the pattern of the dry, cracked earth is on full display, providing much visual appeal to this image.

Learn More:

Choose the Subject Carefully

beginner black and white photography tips 1

 photo by ImagineGolf via iStock 

Some subjects are great for color, but terrible for black and white photos. Sunrises and sunsets come immediately to mind as not being the best candidates for black and white conversions. 

This is because the drama of a sunrise or sunset is largely in the colors of the sky. If you remove that, a lot of the drama is gone. 

Instead, as I mentioned above, look for shapes, textures, and patterns. Rustic elements like broken down cars or fences are perfectly suited for a black and white shot.

beginner black and white photography tips 2

  photo by Jetrel via iStock

 High contrast scenes are also a good candidate for a black and white conversion. 

Finding high-quality black and white subjects requires a lot of practice. You really have to train your eye to see beyond the color in the world around you and pick up on the elements that will grab people’s attention in a black and white photo.

 

 



We Recommend


Best Variable ND Filters of 2019

Best Variable ND Filters of 2019

 photo by jk78 via iStock

If you’re a landscape photographer, there are plenty of different filters you should have in your bag.

A polarizer is a must, and a graduated neutral density filter is a good asset as well.

Many landscape photographers also carry a kit of neutral density filters. I used to be one such photographer, but now I’ve started using a variable ND filter instead. 

The convenience of having multiple ND filters in one is simply too good to pass up. Of course, like any other lens filters, there are good and bad options when choosing a variable ND.

If you’re ready to upgrade your kit with a quality variable ND filter, consider one of the following options.

Kenko Professional Variable NDX Filter 

best nd filters 2019 kenko

This Kenko Variable NDX is the ND filter I have in my kit, and it has impressed from day one.

It offers a range of light-stopping power from 1.3-8.5 stops, so it truly offers a wide range of possibilities for creating long exposures.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

What’s more, the practical use factor range is ND2.5-450 and is extendable to ND1000. Just imagine the gorgeously smooth motion you can get at ND1000!

Kenko offers these filters in 77mm and 82mm sizes. The filter is made by mounting two pieces of high-quality polarizing glass opposite one another, that way when you turn the filter ring, it provides smooth operating motion and lightens or darkens as you see fit. 

best variable nd filters kenko

When using ND filters of any kind, getting a neutral color result is key. Kenko ensures that your images have hyper-neutral color balance thanks to a depolarizing plate inside the filter.

That means there’s no color shifting, no vignetting, and no flare. Instead, you just get a wide range of stopping power thanks to high-quality materials and top-quality construction.

Why carry around a big ND filter kit when something like this will do the job and do it well?!

Learn more about the Kenko Professional Variable NDX Filter

Marumi DHG Variable ND Filter

best variable nd filters marumi

I’ve used Marumi filters many times over the years, and they have performed well (and are typically priced affordably, too).

Their DHG Variable ND Filter offers continuous adjustment from ND2 to ND400. Though that isn’t quite the range of the Kenko filter outlined above, it’s still a good variation of light-stopping power for most shooters.

Marumi uses prime Japanese optics to craft these filters, so they provide crisp, clean, and sharp results.

best variable nd filter 2019 marumi

The ultra-thin screw thread on the filter frame is both easy to attach and detach from your lens, and because it’s so thin, vignetting isn’t a problem.

The aluminum filter frame is lightweight and durable, so it can stand up to a little punishment as you strive to get those gorgeous long exposures you seek.

Like Kenko, Marumi has ensured that the filter produces hyper-neutral colors, so you don’t have to worry about color casting when using this filter. As you can see in the before and after images above, there is no difference in the color tones, yet in the second image, the shutter speed has been extended to blur the movement of the water.

There’s a reason why Digital Camera Magazine awarded Marumi Variable ND Filters with their Gold Award - they are simply built right to give you top performance!

Learn more about the Marumi DHG Variable ND Filter

Syrp Variable ND Filter 

 best variable nd filters syrp

Though Syrp might be better known for their motion control devices, they actually make a really good variable ND filter.

I tested this rig a couple of years ago, and I found it to be every bit as good as some of the heavy-hitters in the filter industry.

What’s nice about the Syrp option is that it comes with two step-up rings so you can fit an 82mm filter to a 72mm or 77mm lens. They even throw in a genuine leather carrying case and a lens cloth too!

best variable nd 2019 syrp

The filter itself is made of high-quality Japanese glass so you get those sharp results you’re looking for whether you’re using the filter for still photos or videos.

This particular model offers 1-8 tops of filtering power, so you can smooth out motion for long exposures or open up the aperture nice and wide to get gorgeous bokeh.

If you’ve never used a variable ND filter before, this is a good one to start with! 

Learn more about the Syrp Variable ND Filter

B&W XS-Pro Digital Vario ND Filter 

best variable nd filters 2019 bw  

Though this filter is $300 for a 77mm version, it’s still a good buy considering a complete ND filter kit would likely cost twice that much.

And for that price, you get B&W’s solid reputation for building some of the best filters in the business.

This model offers 1-5 stops and has an extra wide mount that aids in avoiding vignetting when using wide-angle and ultra wide-angle lenses.

 best variable nd filters BW

The filter has a Multi-Resistant Coating with Nano Technology that ensures the filter repels contaminants like water and oils from your skin.

The filter ring is made of brass, so it’s a little heavier than other filters on this list. But brass is also highly durable, so this rig can stand up to a ton of use for years and years to come.

That’s just what you want in a variable ND filter - excellent results and long-lasting durability.

Learn more about the B&W XS-Pro Digital Vario ND Filter

Tiffen Variable ND Filter 

best variable nd tiffen

If you’re a more budget-conscious buyer, Tiffen makes a quality variable ND filter that won’t bust your budget.

Just like the other filters discussed above, the Tiffen Variable ND Filter has a built-in rotating ring that allows you to quickly and easily adjust its filtering power. The ring offers smooth rotating action for precise control that discerning photographers demand.

With exposure control from ND 0.6-2.4, this filter will give you 2-8 stops of filtering power. Again, that’s not as wide a range as other filters on this list, but is still more than adequate for most photographers.

best variable nd filters tiffen 2

What makes this filter an especially good buy is Tiffen’s ColorCore technology. ColorCore ensures that you get color-neutral results, which is not something that many budget-friendly variable ND filters can claim.

On top of that, ColorCore helps control the precise density of the filtration. This means that you have more control over the exact degree of filtration in your photos.

At about $90 for a 77mm filter, it’s a steal too!

Learn more about the Tiffen Variable ND Filter



We Recommend


Cheap Camera Accessories You Should Never Leave Home Without

cheap camera accessoriesPhoto by DieterMeyrl via iStock

When you are on a budget or just getting started, stretching that hard-earned dollar as far as you can, can be the difference between not having enough photography gear and sliding on through...

Of course, you don't just want to slide by with the bare minimum, but you also don't want to spend a ton of money.

That's where this list comes in.

Below, I've outlined some of my favorite budget-friendly photography accessories. Whether you're a beginner, enthusiast, or a pro, this gear will work hard for you without busting your budget.

Cheap Camera Accessory: Filters

 

cheap photography accessories filter 1

 

If you're been in the photography game for any amount of time, you know that a lot of the best gear is also very expensive.

Good filters, by and large, can set you back hundreds of dollars. That's a big hit to your budget after buying a camera, a lens or two, a tripod, and other accessories.

You can save money without sacrificing quality by getting Kenko filters, though.

cheap photography accessories filter 2

Kenko has two must-have filters for your kit:

  • Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer - This filter helps reduce glare, improve contrast in the sky, and reduces atmospheric haze for improved landscape photos. Prices start at around $15.00.
  • Kenko Variable ND Filter - A neutral density filter blocks a certain degree of light from entering the lens, thus allowing you to use a much slower shutter speed when shooting in daytime conditions. This enables you to blur water, cloud movement, and so forth. Variable ND filters are circular and screw onto the lens, and are adjustable by turning the filter in its housing. This one filter is like having a whole set of ND filters in your bag. Prices start at around $240.00, which is a bargain when compared to other filter sets that are double or triple that price.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera Strap

One of the top accessories you need to buy to upgrade your kit is a better camera strap.

Though some straps cost hundreds of dollars, there are excellent budget options out there.

The HiiGuy Camera Strap is a great example of affordability and functionality.

It has a big, comfy shoulder pad to soften the weight of the load you're carrying. There's even a zippered compartment to keep your spare memory cards!

The strap is highly adjustable, too - I'm over six feet tall and I can adjust this strap perfectly, as can my wife, who's barely over five feet tall.

What's more, this strap is high-grade metal components, so it can support a great deal of weight. I used it to tote my Nikon D-850 with an L-bracket and a 70-200mm zoom lens attached around Boston last fall, and never once did I think the strap wasn't up to the task.

Better still, HiiGuy throws in some swag with the strap, including a microfiber cleaning cloth, a memory card case, an eBook, and a 3-year warranty.

Best of all, this strap retails for under $30!

Cheap Camera Accessory: Tripod

cheap camera accessory tripod 1

Tripods can be among the most expensive photography accessories - some are in excess of $1,500!

But when you're on a budget, that's simply out of the question, and a good, solid, affordable tripod is needed.

The Vanguard Espod CX 204AP fits the bill with loads of features at a great price.

cheap camera accessory tripod 2

This tripod weighs just 2.2 pounds, even with the included pan/tilt head attached. It folds down to 20.7-inches, so it's easy to pack away in your bag, too.

It's got 4-section legs that extend the tripod to a height of 61-inches, quick-flip leg locks that make deploying the tripod a quick task, and a central column anti-shock ring to dampen vibrations that cause blurry photos.

You get all that for about $71.50!

Cheap Camera Accessory: Editing Software

Okay, so editing software is probably something that will stay at home (but hey, bring your laptop and find some free WiFi and you can edit on the go!).

If you've looking into getting something like Photoshop or Lightroom, it can certainly be sticker shock.

Though many companies have moved to the monthly fee-based model, one that still offers its (really good) product for a one-time fee is Skylum.

Their Luminar 3 software has all the bells and whistles you could want in an editor, and then some.

The well-designed and intuitive UI is easy to use and puts all the controls you need to make beautiful edits right at your fingertips.

Luminar 3 has a library feature, so you can sort, organize, and rate your images quickly and easily. It also has presets (called "Looks," shown above) that apply a range of edits to your images automatically. They're a great way to get the editing process started.

Gif Sky Enhancer 3

Luminar 3 also uses AI to make editing simpler and easier. In fact, their Accent AI filter applies about a dozen edits to the photo, so you can literally drastically improve the quality of your images in mere seconds. The AI Sky Enhancer (shown above) brings contrast and definition to otherwise plain Jane skies.

It's software that's easy to use for beginners, yet has all the tools that veteran photographers need and want to edit their photos.

It's only $69, too, so of all the affordable photography accessories you can buy, Luminar 3 is one of the best-priced.

Cheap Camera Accessory: Lenses

cheap camera accessory lensesPhoto by yipengge via iStock

If there's anything you DON'T want to skimp on, it's the lenses you use.

Cheap lenses often produce cheap-looking results that aren't quite sharp, have ghosting, show vignetting, and so forth.

That means investing in the best glass you can afford is the way to go.

To save money, you can buy a better lens at a lower price by buying a used lens.

cheap camera accessory lenses 2

When buying used, where you get it is as important as what you're buying.

I use Lensfinder to buy and sell lenses, and it's been an awesome experience every time.

Lensfinder was built by photographers, for photographers, so the platform speaks to your specific needs.

You don't have to sift through all sorts of unrelated products like you do on eBay, and there's no scams like you often find on Craigslist.

Just enter the details of the lens you want (a 50mm f/1.8 is a great, inexpensive choice!), search the listings, find what you need, and proceed with buying it.

Everything is taken care of right on the Lensfinder platform, from product searches to communicating with sellers to leaving feedback.

And it's less expensive than paying all those eBay fees. Nice!

Cheap Camera Accessory: Cleaning Kit

cheap camera accessory cleaning kit

It's shocking how many photographers don't clean their camera and lenses on a regular basis.

It's not a task that needs to be done weekly, by any means, but every few months, for sure.

You can pick up a good cleaning kit on the cheap with all the tools you need.

Look for a kit like the one shown above that includes a cleaning pen, a lens brush, an air blower, and lens-cleaning cloths.

This one also includes three microfiber cloths and a refillable plastic spray bottle.

All that for $9!

Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera Bag

cheap camera accessory camera bag 1

Of course, you need something to carry all your new accessories in, and a good, solid backpack is a great choice.

Like any other photography gear, you want to get something that's well-made and durable, but without breaking the bank.

The Vanguard VEO 42 backpack is a comfortable bag to carry thanks to the heavily padded shoulder straps.

You can fit a ton of gear in this thing as well - a mirrorless camera with a lens attached, 1-2 additional lenses, spare batteries and memory cards, a flash, a tripod, and a 13-inch laptop, too.

cheap camera accessory camera bag 2

Vanguard has made it easy to get your gear out of the bag with a bottom access panel that makes swapping out your gear a quick task.

This bag is even convertible. Just remove the padded camera insert and you have a regular backpack that you can use for school books, clothes for a weekend trip, and so forth.

Best of all, this bag is just $49!

Cheap Camera Accessory: Camera

best cheap camera accessory camera 1

I know a camera isn't a camera accessory, but I still wanted to offer a recommendation for an inexpensive camera.

I've used the Sony Alpha a6300 for years now, and it has proven to be an excellent little camera.

It's mirrorless, so it's small and lightweight and easy to carry.

best cheap camera accessory camera 3

It's got a 24-megapixel sensor, an astounding 425-point autofocus system, and a water-resistant body.

Add to that a 2.36-million dot OLED viewfinder, 4K UHD video capabilities, WiFi, and NFC, and you have the makings of a highly capable little camera.

Brand new, these things go for about $750 for the body only, but if you buy used, you can pick one up in like-new condition for about $644 at MPB. That's not bad at all!



We Recommend


Circular Polarizers Aren't Just for Landscapes

Circular Polarizers Arent Just for Landscapes

Photo by Evan Dvorkin on Unsplash

Circular Polarizers are one of the most common and most useful tools in our bag of photography gear. Almost any photographer, even absolute beginners, know that circular polarizers can transform your landscape images into better photos with just a little bit of effort.

What some photographers don’t know, or maybe forget in the heat of taking pictures, is that circular polarizers can be used in a wide range of photographic settings and situations. 

Table of Contents

Are Filters Still Relevant? 

why do you need a polarizer 1

Photo by Christian Fregnan on Unsplash

Some photographers have a mindset that on-lens filters aren’t necessary in our modern digital photography world. After all, can’t we adjust everything in Photoshop or another image manipulation or post processing  program?  

Actually, no we can’t. Besides, some of the things that can be adjusted in post-processing are better when done in-camera. These programs are best used to enhance our images. We should still strive to make the best RAW files and JPEGs we can before we get to the processing stage. 

Filter types that I hardly ever even put in my anymore are color correction filters for color films  and the classic contrast filters for B&W films such as the deep red, light green, or yellow filters. Since these were all designed around and used for film photography, there isn’t much use for them for digital imaging.

Two extremely useful types of lens filters for digital photography gear are graduated neutral density (GND) filters and circular polarizer (C-PL) filters. 

 

Recommended Landscape Photography Books:

 

What Does A Circular Polarizer Do? 

photography gear 6

Photo by Tony Reid on Unsplash 

How does a polarizer work? In simple terms, a polarizer filter controls polarized light. Polarized light is everywhere. Many times it’s a reflection. Light is either absorbed by or reflects off of things. From tiny dust and water molecules in the sky, to the surface of a lake or lagoon, to glass covered skyscrapers in the city, so many things reflect and polarize light. 

Other objects you may recognize as reflective but that can be tamed with circular polarizers are the leaves of trees and other foliage, car and truck windshields, and facial skin. 

When considering the question of why you need a polarizer, it pays to think outside the box. Almost anything reflective can be tamed by use of circular polarizers with one notable exception. Metallic reflections aren’t well controlled by a C-PL on the lens. For metal, you need to filter the light source. Easy to do in a studio, but not generally accessible outdoors in sunlight

why do you need a polarizer 2

An excellent example of a high-quality circular polarizer for many different lenses is the Kenko Puro Slim Circular Polarizer Filter

Besides the superb optical characteristics common with all Kenko filters, I also appreciate the slim profile of the rings and mount. Thinner rings lessen the chances of vignetting with wide-angle lenses or the problems of adjusting when combined with rigid lens hoods.

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Styles of Photography that Benefit from Circular Polarizers

photography gear 5

Photo by Ron McClenny on Unsplash 

By the way, I should point out that there are two types of polarizers. The circular polarizers (C-PL) we’re discussing, and linear polarizers (PL). If you have a modern DSLR or mirrorless, stick with circular polarizers, as linear polarizers could negatively affect the in camera metering system and autofocus sensors.

Landscape

photography gear 4

Pretty obvious why... 

Large expanses of open sky. Lakes, oceans, rivers. Leaves of trees in forests and blades of grass in meadows, wet or dry. All of these have polarized light that can be tamed to produce dark blue skies with puffy clouds, deepen colors of plant life, remove glare from water and sand or rocks.

As you can see above, there is a significant difference in the results you get without a C-PL (left) and with a Kenko C-PL (right).

Cityscape and Architectural

what does a circular polarizer do 7

Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels 

Most of the same reasons listed for landscapes apply here. Anything with lots of sky showing could benefit from circular polarizers. Cityscapes and architecture tend to have a lot of glass and stone, both of which can be very reflective. Concrete and asphalt reflect too, especially if wet.

Real Estate

what does a circular polarizer do 8

Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash 

Real estate is architecture. Part of what may need to be shown in real estate photography involves a lot of windows, but also tile flooring or counters, as well as polished furniture. 

For real estate, you want the images to showcase the property in order to give someone a reason to make such a large purchase, so you want to realistically enhance the beauty of the home or business property. 

Aerial and Drone

how does a polarizer work 9

Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash 

Believe it not, there are more than drone users engaging in aerial photography. Regardless of how the camera gets in the air, polarizers are a virtual necessity for aerial photography. From the air, most of the ground below reflects polarized light for one reason or another. To avoid muddled colors and lack of detail due to haze, use a polarizer.

Automotive

how does a polarizer work 10

 photo byMikeVanSchoonderwalt via iStock

Lots of glass, reflective roads, pretty colors, all of these are reasons to use circular polarizers for     imaging cars, trucks, trains, and other vehicles. Just remember that bare metal and even metalized paint may not be affected much, but everything else will. 

A great trick for photographing cars to make them look amazing is to wet down the pavement where they’re parked. The reflection on the ground adds to the visual appeal of the image.

People, Portraits, Weddings 

how does a polarizer work 11

Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar from Pexels 

In addition to the surroundings having polarized light, the skin of a portrait subject has a small amount of reflectivity. So does some makeup. Using a circular polarizer can enhance the natural beauty or interest of virtually any subject.  

Another plus about using a polarizer for a portrait is that these filters have about 2 stops of density. Thus, you will have to either open the f-stop or change the shutter speed or ISO to compensate. If you open the f-stop, you give yourself some selective focus opportunities.

Helpful Circular Polarizer Reminders

why do you need a polarizer 12

Photo by Marc Kleen on Unsplash 

These filters will affect your exposure, since they add about 2 stops of density. Your camera meter reads through the filter, so compensation will be figured in, it’s just a good idea to be aware of the added density. 

Polarization is not always uniform, so large expanses of polarized scene elements may not record evenly. It’s usually only evident in sky shots, though.

Keep it clean. It’s part of your lens’ optical path, so be aware of dirt or smudges on both sides of the filter before attaching it. 

Don’t relegate that C-PL filter to the bottom of the bag when shooting subjects other than landscapes! As I’ve shown you here, it's useful in many applications. 

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Common Photography Problems - and How to Fix Them

common photography problemsPhoto by Julian Santa Ana on Unsplash

If you're frustrated by photography and aren't sure how to get over the hump, it might be because you're making a silly mistake.

If so, you aren't alone...

Every photographer makes plenty of mistakes, especially when they're just starting out.

There's a lot to learn and understand, and simple mistakes along the way are just part of the growing pains of learning how to be a better photographer.

In this guide, I offer up a few common photography problems and what you can do to solve them.

Problem: Editing Photos Takes Too Long (and is Expensive)

freelancer working at his home office picture id685883304Photo by Anchiy via iStock

There are two common problems when it comes to editing photos.

One, it can take absolutely forever, and two, some photo editors cost a big chunk of change.

Though programs like Photoshop and Lightroom have an incredible array of tools and features that give you tons of options for editing your photos, learning how to use all those tools can take a good deal of time. What's more, the workflow in some editors can be a bit on the laborious side.

Additionally, paying a monthly fee for a photo editor is a bit of a bummer, especially when there are one-time-only fee options out there.

Luminar 3 lifestyle shot 7 1

The solution to these problems is simple: Luminar 3.

Not only is Luminar 3 easy to use with built-in "Looks" to get the editing process started, but it's also loaded for bear with dozens of filters you can apply to correct problems or get creative.

These tools are adjusted using sliders, so it's a simple matter of moving the slider to the left to reduce the effect and moving the slider to the right to increase it.

Luminar UI 05

Another feature that makes Luminar an efficient editor is the pre-made workspaces.

If you're working on a landscape, fire up the Landscape Workspace and make use of the recommended tools to make your landscape look like a million bucks. You can even add other tools to customize the workspace as you see fit.

There's workspaces for black and white photography, portraiture, street photography, and more, too.

While ease of use is certainly an important factor, Luminar's price is important to note as well.

It's just $69, and that's a one-time fee.

When you consider all the different tools and features that Luminar has, from AI-powered filters to dozens of filters to enhance your photos to an intelligent library that helps you organize, sort, and browse your photos, $69 is a great price.

See what Luminar 3 has to offer in the video above by Trey Ratcliff.

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Problem: Your Photos Aren't Perfectly Sharp

beginner photography tipsPhoto by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

There are a number of reasons why your photos might not be sharp, but most commonly, a lack of sharpness is due to a lack of stability for the camera.

This is especially true if the scene is dark and you're shooting in fully automatic mode - the camera might choose a shutter speed that's too slow for you to hold the camera in your hand.

That means you need to stabilize the camera in some way, even if it's sitting it on a solid surface.

Of course, that's not a long-term solution to this problem...

Instead, invest in a good, solid tripod.

A tripod is a must-have photography accessory if for no other reason than it helps eliminate the camera shake discussed above.

But a tripod is valuable in other ways as well:

  • Tripods help slow you down a bit, and that extra time can be used to perfect the composition.
  • Many tripods have built-in bubble levels which help you keep horizons straight.
  • Some tripods have multi-angle center columns which allows you to compose interesting low-angle shots.

In other words, a good tripod can help you minimize errors and create better photos in a number of different ways.

That being the case, it's important to invest in a good tripod that will last you for years and years.

I've used the SIRUI W-2204 tripod shown above for years, and it has served me well in all sorts of situations, from taking portraits of my family to taking landscape shots at the beach.

It's waterproof, so water, sand, snow, and mud won't harm it, and with easy twist-lock mechanisms on the legs, it's a breeze to set up.

Heck, one of the legs even detaches for use as a monopod, so it's a multi-functional, well-built, and reliable tripod that will help you get sharper, better-composed shots.

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Problem: You Can't Get a Beautiful Blurry Background in Portraits

If you look at portraits like the one above and lament that you have problems duplicating the blurry background, what you need to do is learn about depth of field.

In a nutshell, depth of field refers to the area of an image that's in sharp focus. In most portraits, the depth of field is shallow (the subject is sharp but the background is not).

Conversely, in landscape photography, the depth of field is usually quite large with everything from the foreground to background in sharp focus.

The question is, how do you manipulate depth of field?

I wrote a comprehensive guide on this topic, but here's a quick rundown of the factors that influence depth of field:

  • Distance to the subject - the closer you are to the subject, the blurrier the background will be.
  • Distance from the subject to the background - the further away the background is, the blurrier it will be.
  • Focal length of the lens - the longer the lens, the shallower the depth of field (i.e., using a 200mm lens to photograph a subject from 20 feet away will produce a shallower depth of field than using a 24mm lens on the same subject from the same distance).
  • Sensor size - the larger the imaging sensor in the camera, the shallower the depth of field will be (i.e., using a 35mm full frame sensor to photograph a subject from 20 feet away will produce a shallower depth of field than using a smartphone on the same subject from the same distance).
  • Aperture size - the larger the aperture opening, the shallower the depth of field.

photography tips for beginners

In other words, if you want a blurry background for portraits, get close to the subject, maximize the distance between the subject and the background, and open up the aperture as large as it will go.

These methods of manipulating depth of field are much easier (and less expensive) than buying a new camera with a larger sensor or buying a new lens with a larger maximum aperture.

However, I will say that a better lens is a sound investment (just like a good tripod!).

I always recommend that beginner photographers pick up a 50mm f/1.8 lens (like the one shown above) because they have a much larger aperture (f/1.8) than typical kit lenses (which usually range from f/3.5-5.6) and you can pick one up quite inexpensively - Canon's version of this lens is about $125.00 brand new.

best lenses for beginners

Of course, if you want a better lens with a larger aperture, you can always buy a pre-owned lens.

Though buying used gear from a place like Craigslist might (and should) induce a bit of panic, if you buy from a reputable photography company like Lensfinder, you can rest assured that you'll be able to find what you want and for a good price as well.

Lensfinder was built by photographers, for photographers, and is a nice little community where gearheads can go to buy and sell their stuff.

It's all self-contained, too - you can search for what you want, make an offer, ask the seller questions, submit payment, and provide feedback all without leaving the site.

I've used Lensfinder a few times now and have been thoroughly impressed with how easy it is to buy and sell gear.

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Problem: Your Landscape Photos Lack Punch

If your landscapes look a little blah - perhaps there's not much contrast in the sky or there's a ton of glare off of the surface of water - there's an easy solution...

A polarizing filter.

Polarizing filters are a little like magic - just screw one onto your lens and your photos will have less glare, less atmospheric haze, and the sky will be a deeper blue with brighter white clouds.

Nice, right?!

Though some polarizers are extremely expensive, you don't have to spend a mountain of money to get a high-quality filter that will help you take improved photos.

I've been testing Kenko Nyumon circular polarizer for several months, and it certainly hasn't let me down.

Kenko makes the best-selling filters in Japan, and their popularity makes sense - they are made with precision polished Asahi Japanese Optical Glass so you're sure to get clean, crisp, and clear results.

What's more, the filter has a slim profile alloy ring so it can be used with wide-angle lenses, yet won't cause vignetting.

No matter if you have a Nikon, Canon, Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron, or other major brand lens, Kenko has a circular polarizer for you!

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Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Problem: You Have Neck and Shoulder Pain

ivana cajina 568216 unsplash 1Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash 

I don't know about you, but when I go out to take photos, I go out for hours on end. After all, I want to get my money's worth!

The problem with shooting for long periods of time is that you can get quite fatigued from having your camera slung over your shoulder.

That shouldn't be a surprise, either, because the camera straps that come with cameras are, in a word, terrible.

The flimsy material has no padding at all, so after a couple of hours of it cutting into your neck and shoulder, it's hard not to want to give up.

Photo by Brandon Burk

The solution to this problem, is, of course, to get a better camera strap.

I know that a camera strap might not be the sexiest of photography accessories you can buy, but like a good tripod and a better lens, a quality camera strap will do you a ton of good.

I have a Holdfast MoneyMaker Solo, and it has been worth every penny I spent.

It's got a nice, big, padded shoulder pad that helps distribute the weight of my camera over a larger area of my shoulder, which means I don't get sore, even after hours of shooting.

Photo by Brandon Burk

This MoneyMaker Solo has a stabilizer strap that keeps the shoulder pad in place, that way you don't have to be constantly fighting it to keep it in place.

Likewise, Holdfast has devised a belt anchor that secures your camera in place, that way it stays put no matter if you're walking or running, standing or kneeling. See what I mean in the video above.

Of course, you can't help but notice how beautiful this thing is, either.

Not that having a pretty camera strap is required to take great photos, but hey, you might as well look good, be comfortable, and have an ultra-functional camera strap all at the same time, right?!

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Composition Tips for Landscape Photography

Composition Tips for Landscape Photography

 photo bystellalevi via iStock

If you’re not all that inspired by your landscape photos lately, you might need to change the way you approach composing your shots.

There are a million composition tips for landscape photography, but the ones outlined below are simple, straightforward, and easy to implement, even if you’re a brand-new photographer.

And though these tips are directed towards beginners, they’re powerful and effective enough for veteran photographers to use, too.

Are your photos just plain blah? Improve the quality of your landscape photos by adding a circular polarizing filter to your kit. Find a polarizer for your lens.

Landscape Photography Composition Tip #1: Concentrate on Framing 

landscape photography tips

photo by DominikFrings via iStock

Framing refers to how you use elements in the photo to frame the primary subject. 

Using a frame not only adds depth and a feeling of dimension to the photo, but it also helps drive the viewer’s attention to the primary subject.

In the image above, for example, the trees in the foreground help frame the lake and the mountains beyond. The result is a photo that is more compelling with a better connection between the foreground and background.

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Landscape Photography Composition Tip #2: Strive for Symmetry 

landscape photography tips

 photo by den-belitsky via iStock

Our eyes are naturally drawn to symmetry, so it only makes sense to incorporate symmetrical elements into your landscape photos when possible.

The easiest way to compose a symmetrical landscape shot is to use water to create a reflection of the landscape.

The photo above is a perfect example of the power of symmetry.

There’s a beautiful harmony from top to bottom in this shot thanks to the placement of the horizon line in the middle of the frame.

Though it’s not typically recommended to put the horizon line in the middle, in this case, it works perfectly to enhance the symmetry of the shot. 

landscape photography composition tips

photo by Ladislav Kubeš via iStock

 You can use man-made elements to create symmetry in a landscape photo as well.

In the example above, the bridge splits the shot from left to right, with its cables and decking serving as the symmetrical elements.

Notice how even though the trees aren’t perfectly symmetrical that the shot still has a symmetrical feel. Your photos don’t have to be perfect to that wonderful mirror-image look either!

Ready to dabble in long exposure photography? You need a variable ND filter first. FIND THE RIGHT VARIABLE ND FILTER FOR YOU.

Landscape Photography Composition Tip #3: Create Vertical Landscape Photos

how to compose landscape photos

 photo by shaunl via iStock

Not all landscape photos have to be taken in landscape format.

Instead, some landscapes benefit from a vertical aspect photo, particularly if the primary subject is very tall and thin, like a mountain peak or a stand of trees.

On the one hand, a vertical aspect landscape photo allows you to accommodate such tall, thin subjects in one shot without having to zoom out or position yourself very far away.

how to compose landscape photos

 photo by HaizhanZheng via iStock

On the other hand, vertical aspect landscape photos give you the opportunity to incorporate more foreground elements into the photo. 

That’s important because the foreground of a landscape image is like the introduction to the scene - you want something that adds interest to the shot and improves the composition.

Foreground interest can be just about anything - rocks (as in the image above), grasses or other plants, a footpath, a stream - you name it!

The point here is that you have to work to add these elements to your compositions, but that little bit of extra effort can make all the difference in the world when it comes to how your landscape photos look.

For more composition tips for landscape photography, check out the video above by Landscape Photography iQ.

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Do You Actually Need a Polarizing Filter?

what is a polarizing filter

Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

Once again, I'm writing about the most underrated piece of photography equipment out there... a polarizing filter.

It always shocks me how many photographers I encounter that don't use a polarizer.

I know that post-processing can fix some of the issues that a polarizer addresses, but, guys, come one...polarizers are much more effective and easy to use!

What Does a Polarizing Filter Do?

Polarizing filters work in a complicated way to filter out specific types of light, and I covered it in depth here.

But, as a quick rundown, a polarizer:

  • Prevents glare on the surface of water, thereby enabling you to see below its surface
  • Minimizes glare off of wet features (i.e., rocks and plants after a rain storm), which enhances their color
  • Lets you use slower shutter speeds to slightly blur movement of things like moving water
  • Creates definition in bright, blue skies by boosting contrast between the clouds and the atmosphere.

So, yeah, polarizers have a ton of benefits.

polarizing filter

As I mentioned above, polarizing filters are one of the most underrated pieces of photography gear out there.

Yet, there are instances in which using a polarizer is a bad plan...

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When Polarizing Filters Are a Bad Idea

what does a polarizer doPhoto by DieterMeyrl via iStock

Don't use a polarizing filter in low light. Doing so is counterintuitive because they do have some light-blocking power. If there's low light already, you don't need to make it more low light!

Another specific rule for when to not use a polarizing filter is when shooting rainbows. Polarizing filters don't work with rainbows since all a rainbow is is reflected light.

how to shoot rainbows

Photo by Khongor Ganbold on Unsplash

It's also a good idea to try photographing scenes with and without your polarizer.

For example, you might think that a certain landscape will look better without light reflected off the surface of a lake, but then find that once you photograph it without a polarizer that it is more appealing.

Editor's Tip: A good Circular Polarizing Filter is a must-have for any landscape photographer. Not only do polarizing filters reduce glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, but they also boost the contrast in the sky and minimize atmospheric haze. When using a circular polarizer, note that they work their best when the sun is at a 45-degree angle from your shooting position. Strive to get as close to that as you can when setting up your shot to get the best results. Learn more about the benefits of circular polarizers.

My Recommended Polarizer

kenko filters

Kenko's Nyumon Wide-Angle Slim Ring polarizing filter is a great deal for the money and one of the top polarizers on the market. It's available for around $40-50, depending on the size you need, and is incredibly light (around 2 ounces).

The filter is crafted out of Japanese Asahi optical glass, so you won't see those horribly ugly X-patterns you might see on a cheaper quality polarizing filter.

What's more, Kenko has added 16 layers of multi-coating to the filter, so they're easy to clean and easily repel things like water and smudges. That's a huge benefit because you'll spend more time getting the shots you want and less time cleaning your filter!

circular polarizer

I also appreciate the fact that the folks at Kenko took the time to develop a slim, low-profile ring. This prevents vignetting when I use my wide-angle lenses, and with a black anti-reflective coating on the mountin ring, I don't have to worry about flare or reflections from it. These are just some of the reasons why I think this is the best polarizing filter out there.

So, while there are plenty of polarizer options, I like my Kenko polarizer because it's well-built, durable, performs well, and isn't expensive.

Let's face it - photography costs a lot of money, so save money when you can!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

 

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Easy Portrait Photography Tips for Beginners

Easy Portrait Photography Tips for Beginners

photo byalvarez via iStock

The great thing about portrait photography tips for beginners is that there are SO many of them. 

What’s more, many of them are just plain easy to implement - it just requires a bit of practice.  

Best of all, these tips can be used on their own or together, so you can pick, choose, and combine your way to better portraits. 

With all that said, let’s get started!

Table of Contents

Get on Their Level

portrait photography tips 1

photo by RichLegg via iStock 

One mistake a lot of portrait photographers make is not getting down on someone’s level.

When you take a portrait looking down on someone it can often give the feeling of them being small or powerless. 

portrait photography tips 2 

photo by via XiXinXing iStock 

Conversely, taking photographs from a low angle, looking up at someone will give feelings of power and looking down at you. (also it gives you a good look up their nose.) 

While being above or below your subject can help convey different emotions, as a beginning photographer try to think of the lens of your camera as your own eye. If you create portraits of subjects looking eye to eye with them you will me more pleased with the results.

Use a Polarizer for Portraits 

use a polarizer for portraits 1 

I never realized how valuable a polarizing filter is in portrait photography until I accidentally left mine on from a landscape shoot.

It was years ago and I’d only just discovered the value of a polarizer for landscapes, so imagine my surprise when it helped me take better portraits!

While it’s true that polarizing filters are usually associated with big, wide open spaces, they lend an incredible hand to the portrait photographer. Using a polarizing filter for portraits opens you up to new, more vibrant colors in your portraits.

Also, if you’re shooting with children (or teens) polarizing filters are a huge help because they reduce the amount of oils you can see on someone’s face.

how to use a circular polarizer for portraits 1

photo by Saadetalkan via iStock 

If you’re dealing with a teenager that is already camera shy because they are self conscious about their skin, just about the worst thing you could do is present them with a final photo that has lots of glare off their oily forehead.

Polarizing filters also make all of the colors in your portraits more vibrant, which looks phenomenal when you’re doing outdoor shoots. 

Take the above-photo as an example. The matte finish on this young woman’s face can be achieved with make up, but it can also be aided by the use of a polarizing filter like this one. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

I always use Kenko filters because you’re not going to get a better polarizing filter for the price. It’s extremely thin, which is a must if you’re buying a polarizing filter for portraits because it keeps your photos from darkening at the edges. 

Then, once you’ve purchased your polarizer for portraits, you can read all about how to use a circular polarizer for portraits and some common issues you may run into when first starting out

Learn More:

Focus on the Eyes 

how to use a circular polarizer for portraits 2

photo by Peter Vahlersvik via iStock 

Sony cameras have this thing called Eye AF, which allows you to autofocus on a subject’s eyes with ease (and track their eyes if the subject is moving, too). The reason Sony has this is because the eyes in portrait photography are the single most important point you need to be focusing on.

Your photo could be beautifully lit, with sharp features and gorgeous composition, but if your model’s eyes aren’t absolutely sharp, then you’ve lost the essence of the portrait.

Watch the video above by Light Club for more information about how to use catchlights in your portrait photography to convey different emotions. 

Build Rapport with the Model 

polarizing filter for portraits

 photo by FG Trade via iStock 

You’ll probably be taking someone’s portrait for one of two reasons: they’re paying you to do it or they’re a model and someone else is paying you both to do it.  

In both of these situations, the model might have a creative vision that they would like you to carry out, and portrait photography tips leave this out far too often. 

Before the photoshoot, ask your subject if there is a particular color they would like to wear or a particular theme they want to convey. Ask about emotions they want to highlight in their photos, locations they especially want to feature, and so forth.

The point is that you likely have all kinds of ideas of what you want to accomplish in the photoshoot, but the model might have just as many ideas - and excellent ones too! Work together to get a better final result.

working on creative things picture id654427740

 photo by Georgijevic via iStock 

Then, throughout the shoot, make sure you’re taking the time to stop and show them the photos you’ve captured so far. Just a peek here and there will suffice; no need to spend all your time looking at photos instead of taking them!

Photographers often times get caught up in their own heads and forget to work both for and with the other people in the room, so the more collaborative spirit you have, the better things will go.

Seek Good Light 

use a polarizer for portraits

 Photo by Trevor Cole on Unsplash

Portrait photography tips are really almost all “find good light.” 

This obviously applies to the general lighting in the shot, like the dramatic sidelighting used in the image above to create such beautiful depth and contrast. 

Creating catchlights in your model’s eyes is another way you can use light to create an image with more impact. You can do this in either a studio or a natural setting

portrait photography tips 3

 photo by CoffeeAndMilk via iStock 

As shown above, the studio lights are reflected in the model’s eyes, giving them a piercing look that immediately draws your attention.

If you’re shooting outside, you’ll need a backup plan in case the lighting isn’t ideal. What happens if your model is late for an evening shoot and you’ve missed the best light of the day? 

Essentially, always go to the worst case scenario for your lighting and have Plans B, C, and D set up just in case.

Sean Tucker is one of my favorite “light” gurus in photography. In the above series, he walks you through how to find good lighting in a natural environment. 

Learn More:

Make the Portrait Shine With the Right Editing Techniques

A proper portrait photography editing workflow is needed if you're going to create images that are as stunning as possible.

In the video above, you can learn about a sample workflow that can do just that.

Using Exposure by Alien Skin Software, you can see how making changes to the white balance, improving sharpness, making tonal adjustments, and addressing touch-ups like blemish removal can do wonders for the quality of your portraits.

alien skin exposure

And the best part is that these changes can be made quickly and easily in Exposure - it's a streamlined process that focuses on helping you meet your creative goals without bogging you down in a complicated workspace.

If you've never used Exposure before, you can try it free to test it out. If you're like me, you'll be hooked!

With that, you have a variety of portrait photography tips that will help you elevate the quality of your photos. 

As I mentioned before, you can use these tips on their own or together. Whatever your approach, following basic rules of photography like these will set you on a path to better portraits.

 



We Recommend


Fundamental Landscape Photography Tips

Fundamental Landscape Photography Tips

 photo by gehringj via iStock 

From what I’ve come across, landscape photographers are always more than welcome to share their knowledge (more so than other photographers), and because of this, landscape photography should be easy to conquer.

Landscape photography tips for beginners, the nitty, gritty specific ones you read last night at 2 a.m., make the trade a lot more difficult to grasp. So, I tried to compile tips for landscape photography that are overarching. 

And hopefully it will make landscape photography a little more attainable, even without professional landscape photography gear. 

Take Your Time

landscape photography tips for beginners

 photo by RichLegg via iStock 

“There are no secrets to success in landscape photography,” begins Scottish landscape photographer Wayne Robertson in a recent YouTube video. “Like most things in life, it takes knowledge, hard work and the odd failure thrown into the mix which helps us learn.”

“So, while there are no secrets for me to talk about in this video, I am going to talk about 4 practical tips which will last you a lifetime.”   

The first practical tip he offers: take your time. 

Obviously, Robertson lives in a naturally beautiful place: Scotland. So, taking your time includes exploring the landscape around you.

In the video above, Robertson encourages you to get the composition correct when you finally find the perfect shot. He is thinking through his reaction when he gets home and sees the shot on his computer screen before he ever takes a single picture.

Visualizing your shots before you take them will result in improved compositions that are far more pleasing than those rushed, run-and-gun type of photos so many of us often take as we hurry through a gorgeous landscape.

Think about The Light (Not Just Golden Hour)

landscape photography tutorial

 photo by SeanXu via iStock 

Landscape photographers generally need to think outstide of golden hour. Good light can happen at any time and Robertson proves it.

“Most of the shots I took today wouldn’t have had the right light on the subjects in each of those images. Some of the trees would have looked quite dull; they would have been in the shade,” he says. 

When you’re shooting complex landscapes, you can’t control the sun. If the direction of light during the golden hour isn’t working for the shot you want, come back at a differnt time and try it again.  

landscape photography tips

 photo byJean-François Gagnon via iStock

Also, think about what would happen to landscape if you photographed it at night. You could try long exposures or even make star trails.

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Take Photos That Make YOU Happy

TAKE PHOTOS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY

 photo by Worledit via iStock 

Robertson encourages other photographers to take photos that resonate with them. 

It’s not a bad thing to take inspiration from other photographers, but oftentimes we allow this to get in the way of our landscape photography because we are trying to take photos that would make other people happy. 

Robertson only takes photos that make him generally giddy. When he’s scoping for the perfect shot, he’ll sit and watch the landscape for a handful of minutes. He’s trying to figure out the composition of the shot, sure, but he’s also enjoying nature.  

TAKE PHOTOS THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY 1

 photo bySouth_agency via iStock

In the video, a small bird crosses his line of view. While he says the bird would not have added anything to the photograph because it was so far away, he will remember sitting and watching the wildlife when he later looks back on the shot of the vista.  

When you put yourself into your photography, you’ll make better art. 

Work On Quality, Not Quantity  

Quality over quantitiy

 photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock 

The most shocking part of Robertson’s video is when he admits the hours-worked-to-pictures-shot ratio. Robertson trekked the landscape for around 9 hours and in those 9 hours he took 4 pictures.

That’s less than 1 photo every 2 hours!

While this may seem extreme to photographers (particularly photographers who grew up in the digital age), it’s an important lesson Robertson is trying to teach. 

We all had a dad growing up who took way too many awful photos of family vacations, and while we’re glad we have some of them, taking the time to get the good ones could have saved time in the long run (both for him and for whoever has to inevitably sift through the photos 20 years down the line). 

Protect Your Gear

f stop dalston 1

I hate to admit it, but decades ago when I went on my first photography adventure, I stuffed my camera and lenses into my school backpack.

Granted, it was the 90s and I didn't know any better, but I can still hear the sound of my lenses clanking against one another in my head.

Today, I take protecting my gear very seriously, particularly because I often shoot landscapes and encounter challenging weather, dust, sand, and so forth.

That's why I'm a particular fan of the f-stop Dalston backpack because it's designed to be rugged.

dalston 2

For example, this bag is constructed of DWR, 410D Ripstop Nylon with TPU laminate for excellent weather protection.

Heck, this thing even has industry leading weather-sealed zippers for added measure.

But just because it's built like a tank doesn't mean it's hard for you to get into the bag...

dalston 3

WIth large side openings, you can quickly gain access to the main compartment to get the gear you need.

Speaking of the main compartment, there's five dividers to help you organize your gear, and it's removable if you don't need it. There's a padded sleeve on the back panel of the bag that will fit your 15-inch laptop too.

I love the padded back panel (it's Jersey laminate with EVA padding!) and the thermoformed EVA shoulder straps as well - both aid in making it super comfortable to carry.

If you're ready to hit the hiking trails to explore your favorite landscape with your camera, consider upping your camera bag game and investing in one of these bad boys. You won't be disappointed!

Get a Polarizing Filter

 kenko polarizer

I talk about polarizing filters A LOT, but i feel far too few landscape photographers use one.

I recently wrote a tell-all article about how to use a circular polarizer, and in the article I discussed the reasons you need one for landscape shots. 

A polarizer creates depth in your photos. It minimizes glare. It creates bright blue skies where before you had dull colors. 

GET A POLARIZING FILTER

 photo byАлексей Филатов via iStock

My favorite circular polarizer tips are the ones that function as two. Polarizers can act as ND filters if you’re looking to save some money in the short run. You dial it to maximum polarization and magically you can crank your aperture up as high as you want for long periods of time. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

For those who are looking for a beginner’s circular polarizer, I always recommend Kenko’s Nyumon Slim Circular Polarizing Filter. It’s the cheapest addition you can make to your photography collection starting at under $45 and it makes a huge impact!

As if that's not enough, Kenko often has promos that allow you to save even more money on quality filters. What's not to like about that?!

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How to Be a Better Photographer - 5 Signs You’re Making Progress

How to Be a Better Photographer

 photo by recep-bg via iStock

I love photography. But man, is it tough to master!

In fact, I’m not sure anyone truly masters photography. Even the greats will tell you that they never stop learning new things about the medium.

So, when you’re a beginner photographer, things can get a little overwhelming and you can feel like you aren’t really making much headway.

But if you stop and take stock of what you’re doing, you might see signs of progress…

If you’re wondering how to be a better photographer, do a self-assessment and see where you’re at with each of the following.

How to Be a Better Photographer: Learn How to Use the Histogram

how to be a better photographer histogram

If you check the LCD after every shot, you’re doing it wrong…

But if you regularly consult your histogram to get an idea of the exposure of your images, you’re definitely on the right track.

Where the LCD on your camera isn’t a reliable output of what the shadows, midtones, and highlights actually look like in the photo, a histogram is a super accurate representation of those qualities. 

That makes the histogram a hugely important tool for taking improved photos. Using it also means that you’re more likely to get the exposure right in-camera, and that, in turn, means less time trying to fix exposure issues in post-processing. Nice!

Learn More:

How to Be a Better Photographer: Take Photos, Not Snapshots  

How to Be a Better Photographer Take Photos Not Snapshots

 photo by Nathan_Allen via iStock

Okay, so snapshots are fine, but as you learn the tricks of the trade in photography, it’s important to have an end-goal in mind of creating a photograph that reaches out and grabs people.

That is, a snapshot might be something you keep on your phone, but a photograph might be something you’re so proud of that you have it printed so you can hang it on your wall.

A photograph requires planning and preparation, the right camera settings and composition, a strong subject, an interesting point of view, great lighting, and so on and so forth.

It’s a lot of work…

How to Be a Better Photographer Take Photos Not Snapshots 2

 Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

 But all that work pays off when you have a print that shows off your burgeoning prowess as a photographer, right?!

Personally, I enjoy having my prints made on canvas, and it’s something I highly recommend to you as well.

The slight texture of canvas adds an additional layer of interest to the shot. Canvas is just a classic substrate for photos, too.

how to be a better photographer photos not snapshots 1

If you get a canvas print, might I suggest you work with CanvasHQ. 

I’ve gotten dozens of prints from them over the years (most of them of my son, shown above), and I’m astonished by the quality of their work each and every time.

Ready to see your photographs as a print? Get the process started now.

 In fact, I did a secret shopper canvas test just last week, and CanvasHQ won hands-down. It really wasn’t a contest, either!

Their process of ordering a print was easy, they sent me a free digital proof, they offer touch-up services, have fast shipping...it’s the total package!

how to be a better photographer photos not snapshots 2

Part of the reason they won so handily is the quality of materials they use. Archival canvas, high-grade inks, handmade frames...you can’t go wrong with that!

As your skills progress, don’t be afraid to show off your work. To show off your work, you need a printer you can trust. That printer can most definitely be CanvasHQ!

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How to Be a Better Photographer: Chase Good Light 

How to Be a Better Photographer Chase Good Light

 photo by vkbhat via iStock

A surefire way to improve the quality of your photos is to seek out better lighting.

That is, the light at noon on a clear, sunny day is definitely not the same quality you find just after sunset.

The former is very harsh and bluish, and can create intense shadows or wash out the scene, as shown above. 

How to Be a Better Photographer Chase Good Light

 photo by skynesher via iStock

 Test it out for yourself - photograph a landscape at midday and the same landscape early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is rising or setting.

The difference is quite incredible!

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How to Be a Better Photographer: Manage the Light

How to Be a Better Photographer manage the light

 photo by Koldunov via iStock

If you want to get the best results when you take photos, you have to learn how to manage the light. After all, you can’t always be out at golden hour taking photos of its rich, golden light.

To manage light, you need lens filters. And if you ask me, the most useful filter is a polarizer.

A polarizing filter not only helps eliminate glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, but it also helps reduce atmospheric haze.

 how to be a better photographer manage light 1

On top of that, polarizing filters also boost the contrast in the sky, so the clouds appear to be whiter and the atmosphere appears to be bluer.

The result of all this is certainly a much-improved photo. 

I’ve been using the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer for the last few months, and I have to say that I’ve been impressed.

 how to be a better photographer manage light 2

This filter works like a charm thanks to its high-grade materials and high-quality construction. 

The filter glass is precision polished for clear, sharp results, and the slim, low-profile alloy ring reduces the chances of vignetting.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

What’s more, Kenko has versions available for a wide range of lenses from Sony, Fuji, Canon, Nikon, and other major brands.

It’s budget-friendly as well, so it’s a win-win all the way around!

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How to Be a Better Photographer: Get Out of Full Auto

camera picture id691418714photo by arisara1978 via iStock

Ask any photographer, and they’ll likely tell you that they first learned photography in full auto mode.

So it’s not like full auto is bad…

But if you want to be a better photographer, it’s time to ditch full auto and start taking more control over how the camera behaves.

You can do that in a couple of ways:

  • For still subjects like landscapes or portraits, use aperture priority mode (A or Av on the camera dial). This gives you control over the aperture, which also gives you more control over the depth of field in the shot.
  • For action shots like wildlife and sports, try shutter priority mode (S or Tv on the camera dial). This gives you control over the shutter speed, which allows you to control whether motion is blurred or frozen in the shot.

You can also try program mode (P on the camera dial), which prioritizes the ISO setting, though you can override the aperture and shutter speed the camera chooses, which gives you even more control over the exposure of the shot. 

Of course, manual mode is floating around out there too. It’s not as big and scary as you might think it is, either.

The point is that better photos result from you having more input, not the camera. So if you’re still in full auto, it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and take more control over how the camera performs!

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How to Be a Better Photographer: Use Better Lenses 

How to Be a Better Photographer Use Better Lenses

 photo by MarioGutivia iStock

Like full auto mode, the kit lens that came with your camera is a perfectly fine learning tool. But it’s not exactly a fantastic lens, either.

If you want better photos, you need to invest in better lenses. The problem is that good lenses can be hugely expensive.

That’s why you should buy used!

How to Be a Better Photographer Use Better Lenses

photo by Deagreez via iStock 

Buying used lenses can be tricky if you don’t know where to look. Places like Craigslist can be a hotbed for scams when it comes to buying lenses, and eBay can be difficult to use to find the lens you want.

Instead, give Lensfinder a try. It’s where photographers can go to buy and sell lenses, so it’s a nice little community of like-minded folks that help make the process of buying and selling used glass super easy.

How to Be a Better Photographer Use Better Lenses 3

 photo by PeopleImages via iStock

Just type in the lens you’re looking for, and Lensfinder will present you with all the matches. You can peruse them, ask the seller questions, and purchase a lens all right within the Lensfinder site.

Not only is it easy, but it’s less expensive than paying all those eBay fees, and since Lensfinder has built-in fraud protections and a rock-solid feedback system, you can rest easy that the lens you buy will be as described.

 Search for lenses that will fit your camera.

Best of all, since used glass is less expensive, you might even be able to afford a couple of lenses, which will only expand your creative abilities for taking awesome photos.

What’s not to like about that?!

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We Recommend


How to Create Beautifully Moody Landscape Photos

landscape photography tipsImage Credit: franckreporter via iStock 

Landscape photos are a dime a dozen, so to make your images stand out from the crowd, you need to find ways to make them special and unique.

One way you can do that is to enhance the mood of your images.

You can do this in a variety of different ways - each as effective as the next.

Let's have a look at a few landscape photography tips that will get you beautifully moody landscape photos.

Add People to Your Landscape Photo

moody landscape photosPhoto by Aaron Ang on Unsplash

Not only does adding people to a landscape photograph instantly add a strong focal point, but it also helps you tell a more defined story about what's going on in the image.

That storytelling power can help you create a moodiness in the shot that might otherwise be less salient if the photo is of just the landscape.

For example, in the image above, the man becomes a focal point of the shot because of his placement in the foreground.

His gaze to the distant mountains as he pauses from reading his book gives this image a pensive vibe and begs the question, "What is the man thinking about?"

how to improve landscape photosPhoto by Jonathon Reed on Unsplash

But adding people to landscapes doesn't have to take the form of them being front-and-center in the shot to create mood.

In the photo above, the man is much smaller in the frame, yet our eyes are immediately drawn to him.

Unlike the first example, this photo has a much different mood - one with a sense of excitement and perhaps even danger.

In this case, the importance of the man to create that mood cannot be understated. Though the view from this vantage point is spectacular, you wouldn't get the same feeling from the shot if the man wasn't near the edge of the cliff.

Learn More:

Use a Circular Polarizing Filter

grassland landscape in the bush with grampians mountains in the picture id934906920Image Credit: loeskieboom via iStock

By far, one of the most important landscape photography accessories you can own is a good circular polarizing filter.

These filters provide too many benefits not to have one in your bag!

In addition to reducing atmospheric haze so distant objects in the shot appear clearer, circular polarizing filters also minimize glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces.

That means that your landscape photos will be more crisp and have fewer distractions from reflective light, which allows viewers to concentrate more on the subject matter and the mood.

tuscany landscape picture id508141135Image Credit: borchee via iStock

Circular polarizing filters also enhance the contrast in the sky, making the white clouds pop on a background of a darker, deeper blue sky.

Naturally, this is an advantage when you want to create a landscape photo with a bright, cheery mood, like the one shown above.

Filters can be used to create different kinds of moods, too.

For example, by adding a neutral density filter to your lens, you can extend the shutter speed and create a long exposure landscape photo that has tons of mood and drama.

kenko circular polarizer

Just be careful when buying lens filters because cheap, poorly-made filters will hurt - not help - your images.

You don't have to spend a ton of money to get quality, either. Kenko circular polarizing filters are a prime example of that.

Starting at less than $15, these filters are budget-friendly without sacrificing quality.

As the #1-selling filter in Japan, they're backed by tens of thousands of customers that achieve the look they want with polished optical glass that resists dust, water, and oils from skin.

What's more, these filters have a SLIM ring that minimizes vignetting, even when using a wide-angle lens.

In other words, you can create gorgeously moody shots without breaking the bank with a Kenko circular polarizer!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Add or Enhance Mood in Post-Processing

A final way to add mood to your landscape photos is to go a little dark in post-processing.

By reducing the exposure and enhancing blue and green tones, you can get jaw-droppingly beautiful shots with tons of mood.

What's more, if you desaturate the image a little bit to dampen the color contrast, you can accentuate the feeling in the shot.

There's actually a variety of things you can do to enhance this type of mood in your landscape photos...

In the video above, Mark Denney offers his tips for doing so.

Have a look at the video, consider the other tips outlined earlier, and start creating some awesomely moody landscape photos!

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How to Increase the Wow Factor of Wide-Angle Landscape Photography

How to Increase the Wow Factor of Wide Angle Landscape Photography

photo by1111IESPDJ via iStock

Ask anyone that typically photographs landscapes what kind of lens they use, and many of them will answer with “wide-angle.”

It makes sense that wide-angle lenses are so popular for landscapes - they enable you to capture details near and far, highlight foreground interest, and include both the landscape and the sky above with great ease. 

However, with such a wide view, the smaller details of a landscape (and the story you want to tell about the landscape) can get lost.

With these wide-angle landscape photography tips, you can ensure your photos have the wow factor they need to grab the viewer’s attention.

Wide-Angle Landscape Photography Tip #1: Have a Visual Anchor Point

landscape photography tips 1

photo by tunart via iStock 

Because wide-angle lenses minimize the perceived size of distant objects, it’s important to have an anchor point in the shot that helps the foreground connect to those distant elements.

In the example above, the boulders in the foreground serve as just that - their imposing figures in the foreground grab your attention, yet also invite your eyes to wander deeper into the shot. 

Notice how the two boulders in the front create a triangle with the largest boulder in the midground. The apex of that triangle then points toward the distant mountains (which look much bigger in real life).

The point here is that without all that foreground interest and those anchor points in this shot, it wouldn’t be nearly as successful. Though the mountains are pretty, they don’t occupy enough space in the shot to serve as a subject on their own. But with the aforementioned anchor points, the image becomes much more engaging for the viewer.

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Wide-Angle Landscape Photography Tip #2: Reflections are Perfect for Wide-Angle Shots 

wide angle landscape photography 1

photo by SusanWoodImages via iStock 

Since wide-angle lenses make distant elements appear smaller, taking photos with the landscape reflected in a body of water is a great way to increase the visual weight of the scenery. 

In the image above, the mountains in the background aren’t all that imposing, but with the hint of their reflection in the still waters of the lake, their size is essentially doubled.

What’s more, this photographer utilized the first tip above, and included an interesting anchor element in the form of the tree. 

wide angle landscape photography 2

photo by svetlana57 via iStock 

In this example, you can once again see how the reflection of the distant element - in this case, the mountains - doesn’t have to be in full view. 

Instead, even just having the tips of the mountains visible in the reflection of the lake’s waters helps enhance their visual weight in the shot.

As a side note, using water in the foreground of landscape images is a great trick for helping the exposure of the shot. The foreground is often darker than the sky above it, which can be challenging for your camera to accommodate.

But with water in the foreground to reflect the light from the sky, you can typically create an image that has a smaller dynamic range, which is easier for your camera to handle.

 

Editor's Tip: One of the best ways to highlight the foreground of a landscape photo taken at sunrise or sunset is to use a light to illuminate it. I carry the Litra Pro for this purpose because it's compact and easy to transport, yet has 60 LEDs that put out 1200 lumens of light. This bi-color light has an adjustable color temperature, a 10-hour battery life, and is waterproof and rugged to stand up to the most challenging landscape photography conditions. Grab one today, and see how easy it is to create more dynamic landscape photos!

 

Wide-Angle Landscape Photography Tip #3: Use Leading Lines

wide angle landscape filter 1

 photo by stawroncs via iStock

Like the anchor points discussed above, adding a leading line to a wide-angle landscape will help draw the attention of the viewer, allowing them to identify the point at which you want them to focus. 

The photo above of a storm descending on an Australian landscape, you can see how the lines created by the highway help direct your eye from the foreground to deep in the background of the shot. 

In a way, leading lines help simplify a wide-angle photo by “demanding” that your attention follow the flow of the lines.

That is, instead of getting bogged down inspecting all the details in the rocks, plant life, and clouds, each of those elements is connected by the highway, making for a much more cohesive feeling image.

Learn More:

Wide-Angle Landscape Photography Tip #4: Use a Polarizing Filter 

wide angle landscape photography tip 1

photo by Milan Chudoba via iStock 

One of the best things you can do to improve the quality of your landscape photos is to utilize a circular polarizing filter. 

What’s so great about these filters is the sheer number of benefits you can derive from them. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko's Latest Updates and Access to Promos for Discounted Gear. Click Here to Sign Up.

 

For starters, polarizing filters minimize glare off of water, so when you use reflections to enhance your landscape shots, you can do so without the blinding glare of the sun. In some cases, it can even enable you to see beneath the surface of the water, as shown above.

Secondly, polarizing filters minimize atmospheric haze that can all but obscure distant landscape formations. With improved visibility, those distant mountains in your wide-angle shots become a more potent component of the image.

wide angle landscape photography tip 2

 photo by Nicholas Motto via iStock

Lastly, circular polarizing filters boost the contrast of the sky, making the clouds pop against a darker blue atmosphere.

The effect of this is that wide-angle photos have much more personality and pop. More to the point, your photos will be more dynamic, with greater contrast and more saturated colors to captive the viewer’s attention.

kenko cpl

I’ve used Kenko Nyumon polarizing filters for some time now, and I can attest to the quality of construction and the quality of results one can get when using these filters.

With sizes from 37-82mm, you can pick up a wide-angle landscape filter that precisely fits your lens.

kenko before and after

And since it’s a Kenko filter, you can rely on impeccable construction for long-lasting results. Not only is the filter comprised of optical-quality glass for the highest clarity and superb color fidelity, but the filter housing is black coated and ultra-slim, so it won't show up in your wide-angle shots. 

What's more, there are eight layers of anti-reflective coating to ensure that reflections, ghosting, and flare are minimized.

In other words, if you’re ready to master the art of wide-angle landscape photography, a polarizing filter is definitely a must-have!

 



We Recommend


How to Master Your Wide-Angle Lens

how to master your wide angle lensPhoto by William Thomas on Unsplash

If you’re a landscape photographer, then your least and most favorite photography accessory is probably your wide-angle lens.

Why, you ask?

Wide-angle lenses are phenomenal at bringing the viewer into a picture and creating epic stories. But all of the strengths of a wide-angle lens are also all of its weaknesses - distortion and vignetting among them.

If you have found yourself frantically searching “how to use a wide-angle lens” in the middle of a far-flung photoshoot, then this article is probably for you!

Understanding What a Wide-Angle Lens Really Does

The basic point of a wide-angle lens - and any lens, for that matter - is to capture a 3D world and transfer it into a 2D photo. Wide-angle lenses are the reason Apple created a panorama option with their iPhone cameras.

A regular human can see about 60 degrees, or the equivalent of a 45mm, without turning their neck. If you’re working with your 16mm wide-angle lens, then you can now capture 107 degrees of perspective.

Now, wide-angle lenses are also infamous for taking a huge, beautiful landmark and transforming it into a tiny, dull thing in a photo. If you’re fitting an incredibly large world into an incredibly small photograph, then of course the individual objects in that photograph are going to be smaller than in “real life.”

In the video above, Techquickie gives us a quick overview of what wide-angle lenses can do for your photos.

Learn More:

Picking the Right Kind of Filters for Wide-Angle Lenses

best polarizing filterPhoto by Marcelo Quinan on Unsplash 

A polarizer is a must-have filter for wide-angle lenses.

Not only do polarizing filters boost contrast in the sky, making the blue atmosphere deeper and the white clouds brighter, but they also reduce atmospheric haze which allows for far-off landscape to appear more clear.

benefits of polarizing filtersPhoto by Georgia Dixon on Unsplash

Plus, if you’ve ever taken even just one photo near a body of water without a polarizing lens, then you know the glare off the water is almost unbearable.

Our favorite polarizing filters for wide-angle lenses are all crafted by Kenko.

kenko polarizing filter

The Kenko Nyumon slim ring polarizer shown above is particularly small, which comes in handy to prevent vignetting.

When you use a polarizing filter on your wide-angle lens that is too thick, then the corners of the image will be less bright and realistic than the center of the image.

Plus, depending on the size of filter you need, they start at about $40, this is for sure amongst the cheapest of the high-quality polarizing filters you can get your hands on.

Don't think that because it's inexpensive that the Kenko polarizer is a cheap knock-off, either. The optical quality of the glass and the precise construction of the filter get you great results - I should know because I use this filter! 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Use a Wide-Angle Lens to Create a “Hero Shot”

how to use a wide angle lensPhoto by Andrew Ly on Unsplash

I’m focusing on something called a hero shot to showcase exactly why losing your sense of scale in a photograph with a wide-angle lens is actually not a bad thing.

If you know your wide-angle lens is going to morph and distort your landscape, then don’t use a wide-angle lens when the landscape needs to be seen as bigger than life. Instead, use it to create a hero shot by placing your subjects closer to the camera.

In this way, the incredible lakes and mountains and rivers and valleys showcase the grand nature of your subject.

wide angle lensPhoto by Christopher Burns on Unsplash

As an example, in this photo, it is obvious to the viewer that this man is going to conquer that mountain range. The man is the hero, the mountain range is his hero’s quest. While it may look large, there is no question in the viewer’s brain that this man will be victorious.

top filters for wide angle lensesPhoto by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

If you’re looking to keep the sense of scale on a photograph with subjects, on the other hand, then you can easily place your subjects within the landscape instead of in front of your camera, like the photo above.

This type of photograph is used pretty constantly with elopements or destination weddings. It says to the viewer, "look at what these people are a part of, rather than look at what these people can do."

A Wide-Angle Lens Increases a Photo’s Sense of Depth

wide angle lens depthPhoto by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

Wide-angle lenses may be most useful to draw a viewer into the photo through an increase in the photo’s depth.

When you place a wide-angle lens close to the ground, or in this example, the water, you are emphasizing the differences between the foreground and the background.

This photo nearly feels like the viewer can jump out onto that rock. It also draws the viewers’ eyes over the pool of water and up into the waterfall, increasing the probability that they will question where the photo was taken and what other beauties await above the waterfall.

Learn More:



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How to Photograph Coastal Landscapes

How to Photograph Coastal Landscapes

 photo by Joshua McDonough  via iStock

Coastal landscapes are some of my favorites because they offer so many different opportunities for landscape photos.

Sunrises and sunsets, detail shots of texture-filled beached, motion blur of the ocean’s waves, and piers at night are just a few of my favorite subjects.

But as with any kind of photography, there’s more to creating a beautiful coastal landscape photo than simply pointing your camera at something that looks pretty.

With that in mind, here’s a few tips on how to photograph coastal landscapes.

Coastal Landscape Photography Tip #1: Protect Your Camera

coastal photography tips

photo bydchadwick via iStock

I think it probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway - the coast is not a friendly place for cameras.

Pretty much everything you will find when you photograph the sea is detrimental to your camera - salt, sand, and ocean spray among them.

To keep those elements away from your gear to the greatest extent possible, follow these coastal photography rules:

  • Keep your gear in a camera bag whenever it isn’t in use. A waterproof bag is a good choice.
  • Minimize lens changes. The less time the inner workings of your camera are exposed, the less time there is for water or sand to enter.
  • If you need to change lenses, get as far away from the coast as possible. Even if you have to head back to your car in the parking lot, do it!
  • Once you’re done for the day, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe down all your gear. This will help remove any dust, sand, or salt spray. When you get home, a thorough lens cleaning and sensor cleaning is in order as well.

The coast is just too beautiful to pass up, so all this work to protect your gear is certainly worth it

Keep salt and sand off your lens by investing in a protective UV filter. Find a UV filter that fits your lens.

Coastal Landscape Photography Tip #2: Mind the Horizon 

how to photograph coastal landscapes 1

photo byRobChristiaans via iStock

When composing your shots, bear in mind that you not only need a strong subject to anchor the photo, but you also need to be aware of the best position for the horizon. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is that if there is more interest in the sky - a beautiful sunset or dramatic clouds, for example - shift the horizon downward in the frame.

Conversely, if the greatest area of interest is in the foreground - interesting rock formations or tide pools - shift the horizon upward in the frame.

how to photograph coastal landscapes 2

Photo by Jose Llamas on Unsplash

It’s also important to get the horizon perfectly straight.

A wonky horizon is one of the easiest ways to ruin an otherwise good shot. And while it’s simple to fix crooked horizons in post-processing, it’s even easier to simply pay attention to the composition and adjust your camera accordingly to get a straight horizon in-camera.

Many tripods have built-in bubble levels to keep things nice and straight. If your tripod doesn’t have a bubble level, you can buy one that fits in your camera’s hot-shoe mount.

Alternatively, you can use your camera’s virtual horizon if equipped, and if not, simply turn on the rule of thirds grid in live view and use the upper and lower grid lines to get the horizon straight.

Learn More:

Coastal Landscape Photography Tip #3: Blur the Water’s Movement

tips for photographing the sea 1

photo bysimonbradfield via iStock

You can’t visit the coast with your camera without taking a long exposure that blurs the movement of the water.

If you’re shooting during the daytime and you want this effect, you’ll need a good neutral density filter to block some of the light out so you can extend the shutter speed to get the blur you want.

On the one hand, you can use a set of solid ND filters that attach to your lens via a bracket. This allows you to stack filters to get the desired filtering power. It also allows you to stack different types of filters.

For example, you might have a solid neutral density filter combined with a graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky more without impacting the landscape.

tips for photographing the sea 2

photo byDaniel_Kay via iStock

Though this setup can work great, there’s two problems. First, using multiple ND filters can be a laborious task. For each shot, you might need to swap out one filter or another to get the right exposure level.

Second, when you’re at the coast, the last thing you want is more gear out in the salt and sand. Not only does that mean you have more gear that might suffer the deleterious effects of that particular environment, but it’s just more gear you have to clean when you’re done for the day.

kenko variable nd filter

I started using the Kenko variable ND filter shown above a few months ago, and I have to say, it’s been a much smoother process than with my standard ND filters.

What makes it easy to use a variable ND filter is that it just screws onto the end of my lens, so I don’t have to worry about a filter holder and a bunch of rectangular filters

Furthermore, rather than having to swap out individual filters and stack filters to get the desired effect, with a variable ND filter, I just turn the filter in its housing ring. It really doesn’t get much easier than that.

variable nd filter tips 1

photo by DAJH via iStock 

I appreciate the fact that I can put the filter on my lens in the car when I get to the beach and leave it on there the entire time. This means I have one filter to clean and the lens glass is protected from that pesky salt and sand.

Of course, having a variable ND filter means I can easily blur the movement of the water and quickly get the desired effect I want. That’s because this filter varies from 1-10 stops, so you can get just a hint of motion blur, dramatic ethereal long exposures, and various points in between.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

Coastal Landscape Photography Tip #4: Focus on the Details 

landscape photography tips 1

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Not every photo you take on the coast has to be a wide-angle view of the beach or a sunset.

Instead, if you focus on detail-oriented shots, you will find that there are tons of possibilities for alternative types of coastal photos.

landscape photography tips

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Try finding interesting rock formations to highlight in a shot. Add people to a coastal landscape for added interest. Explore sand dunes and feature interesting textures in a shot.

The point is that the more you explore, the more you’ll find that’s worthy of a coastal landscape photo.

Learn More:

 



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How to Photograph Lake Reflections

How to Photograph Lake Reflections

Photo by garrett parker on Unsplash

If you ask me, you can’t get much better than a scene like the one above. 

Between the soaring mountains, the warm colors of the setting sun, and that incredible reflection, there’s no lack of beauty in this image.

If you want to create images like this, though, you’ll need to follow a few handy tips that will maximize your results.

How to Photograph Lake Reflections: Shoot at the Right Time of Day

landscape photography tips

photo by den-belitsky via iStock 

If at all possible, be at your desired shot location before sunrise or near sunset.

This ensures a couple of things. First, the colors of the sunrise or sunset will add pop to the image, and second, the wind is least likely to be blowing early in the morning or late in the evening.

Those two elements are a recipe for a drop-dead gorgeous lake reflection photo.

landscape photography tips 1

photo byMorgan Somers via iStock 

Additionally, thanks to the softer light of sunrise and sunset, the level of contrast and dynamic range (the range of shadows to highlights) will be reduced. 

This is advantageous because you can avoid the deep shadows with no features and the super bright highlights with no features that are prevalent when shooting landscapes in the middle of the day.

Learn More:

How to Photograph Lake Reflections: If You Can’t Shoot at Sunrise and Sunset… 

 landscape photography tricks 2

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash 

Of course, not every opportunity for a gorgeous photo happens at sunrise and sunset, so you need to be prepared with the right gear to maximize your reflection photos during the daytime.

This means arming yourself with a high-quality polarizing filter.

Why a polarizer?

Polarizing filters reduce glare off of non-metallic surfaces (like water) while also minimizing atmospheric haze.

 landscape photography tricks 1

Photo by Maarten Deckers on Unsplash 

Additionally, polarizers boost the contrast in the sky, making the clouds a brighter white that pops on the dark blue color of the atmosphere.

All told, polarizers give you the ability to enhance the beauty of the landscape and the reflection on the lake so you can get breathtaking photos, even with the harsh light of the daytime.

And don’t think that polarizers are a big expense, either.

kenko nyumon circular polarizer 

I’ve used the Kenko Nyumon circular polarizer shown above for several months now, and it has proven to be an invaluable investment.

It’s crafted of precision polished Asahi Japanese optical glass, so it creates beautifully detailed results while also resisting environmental contaminants like dust and fingerprints.

It’s mounted in a SLIM ring as well, which means vignetting is reduced when shooting at wide angles.

Best of all, my filter was less than $40.00. It’s been worth its weight in gold, though!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

How to Photograph Lake Reflections: Zoom In 

tips for beginner landscape photographers 1

  photo by mantaphoto via iStock

If you photograph a lot of landscapes, you’re likely used to shooting at a wide angle to capture as much of the scene as possible.

And while this can be advantageous in many landscape situations, when shooting reflections, it can lead to an image that feels a little empty.

By shooting at a longer focal length, you can zero in on the subject of the reflection, as was done above, and create an impactful, intimate photo that puts the reflection on full display.

tips for beginner landscape photographers 2

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

This tip works even better when the subject of the reflection is small.

As you can see above, by framing the shot tightly around the tree, the photographer maximizes the impact of the tree’s details - it’s colors, textures, and shape - while also giving us a close-up view of its reflection in the lake’s waters. 

Learn More:

How to Photograph Lake Reflections: Make the Reflection More Interesting

 landscape photography tricks 3

Photo by Chloé Lam on Unsplash

Most lake reflection photos you see are of relatively perfect reflections. And while that’s fine, it’s not exactly unique.

You can make your lake reflection photos stand out by adding elements that increase the interest of the composition.

You can add leading lines to connect the foreground to the background. You can take a very low shooting position to bring foreground elements into the shot. You can also frame the reflection, as was done using the foreground trees above, to create a more intimate image.

 landscape photography tricks 4

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

You can also add people to your reflection photos.

Doing so adds yet another element of interest that engages viewers with the photo and encourages them to inspect the shot more thoroughly. That’s just what you want!

So, add a person or a leading line, zoom in, outfit your lens with a polarizer, or time your shots to take advantage of sunrise and sunset. If you can do these things as the situation warrants, your photos of lake reflections will be much-improved!

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How to Use a Circular Polarizer

How to Use a Circular Polarizer

Photo by William Bayreuther on Unsplash

Circular polarizers are oftentimes confusing because with the advent of editing software, it seems like they’re a waste of time. Why not just use Photoshop to create the same effects? 

Well, it’s impossible to replicate the effects of a circular polarizer in post-production. Plus, you can get a good circular polarizer on the cheap. 

Besides, using a polarizer is a quick and simple process, and if you ask me, I’d rather spend more time actually out in a beautiful landscape with my polarizer than hunched over my computer in my office trying to Photoshop my way through it.

I’m going to walk you through the way a polarizing filter works, why you need it for particular types of photography, and how you can get the most out of your polarizer with the least amount of work. 

Table of Contents

Why Do You Need a Polarizer for Landscape Photography? 

best polarizer

Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash 

Polarizers create depth, contrast and a richness in your photographs you could otherwise never achieve. 

While using your polarizer for landscape photography, glare will be minimized (think water and wet foliage) and will instead create dark blue skies, vibrant clouds that were barely visible to you before you took the shot, and a lake bed littered with rocks instead of just a 2-dimensional reflection of the surrounding landscape.

Not bad, right?

What Does a Polarizing Filter Do?

Among other things, polarizing filters lessen glare in your photos (as discussed by Evan Ranft in the video above).

In order to understand how these filters reduce glare, you need to understand how light works.

Essentially, light moves in two ways at once. It moves forward while also moving within itself. A polarizing filter removes one aspect of light in order to reduce glare. 

This also means that polarizing filters only work to a certain degree in some circumstances. A polarizing filter will never entirely get rid of glare because it’s caused by the movement of light, and that’s not something you can completely eliminate.

 What is a polarizer

Via https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/231962/linear-polarized-3d-glasses-and-the-physical-shape-of-light-waves 

For this reason, a circular polarizer works best when it’s pointed perpendicular to the sun. If you point your camera with a polarizer directly at the sun it won’t work and that’s the science of the polarizing filter at work.  

What all this means for you, though, is you’ll need to experiment with your polarizer both by moving your camera and by moving the polarizer inside its filter housing. 

You’ll also need to experiment with what types of polarizers work for your type of photography. The polarizer I recommend to everyone is Kenko’s Slim Circular Polarizer because it’s inexpensive (around the $40 mark, depending on the size you need) and it works for all types of photography.

If you buy a polarizer any cheaper, you risk getting one with poor quality that won’t filter as much light as you need it to.

If you’re feeling particularly crafty (and you have an old pair of 3D glasses just lying around) you can also make your own polarizer using the instructions in the video above by Pocket Film Academy

No promises on the quality, though!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

How to Use a Circular Polarizer

when to use a circular polarizer

 Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

This is probably a good time to explain that there are two shapes of polarizing filters for your camera: circular polarizers and square polarizers. 

However, the circular version is way more popular and practical because you can screw it onto your lens.

 kenko polarizer

After you’ve purchased your polarizer, you can screw it into the filter thread in front of your lens. When it’s tightened, you’ll still be able to twist the front part of the filter (but not the back).  

Next comes the experimentation part of your circular polarizer I was talking about. You’ll be able to twist your polarizer to reduce and further its effects as you see fit.

Circular polarizers are darkened, so you’ll need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly. I recommend 1.5-2 stops. 

Please remember: use a tripod when photographing in poor light with your circular polarizer on. I’ve made that mistake too many times to count and might as well prevent some of you from doing it.

Learn More:

How to Get the Most Out of a Polarizer 

how to get the most out of a polarizer

Photo by Ian Cylkowski on Unsplash 

No ND Filter? No Problem!

A polarizer can secretly function as an ND filter in certain circumstances. Use your circular polarizer as an ND filter by dialing it to maximum polarization and you’ll get a stop or two of filtration. 

It’s Not Just About the Sky

Photographers who are new to circular polarizers often make the mistake of only focusing on the sky; they completely forget about the subtle changes a polarizer can make to landscape. Any reflective surface works well, as does any amount of water. Try your circular polarizer on lakes, oceans, and waterfalls, as well as on rocky landscapes. It allows the natural texture of the Earth to jump out so vibrantly.  

But If There’s a Rainbow in the Sky…

what does a polarizing filter do

Photo by Khongor Ganbold on Unsplash 

Another trick to the circular polarizer is its ability to enhance rainbows. You’ll need to mess with your own polarizer before you figure out the perfect positioning, but once you do, your background will darken and your rainbow will brighten. 

You Don’t Have to Max Out the Polarizer

Another problem I often see in photographs on Flickr is a maxed out polarization effect. Experiment with your polarization. Slowly (very slowly) rotate the outer element on your circular polarizer. The effects may not seem like enough until you see the picture outside of the immediate context of trying to shoot it. Keep track of which photos you shot at certain stops of the polarizer so you can decide in post-production which ones you like best. 

Watch Out For These Common Problems With Polarizing Filters

There are 3 common issues most people run into when they’re using a circular polarizer: photos are underexposed, photos have differential polarization, and stacking multiple filters. Pierre T. Lambert covers these and other problems with filters in the video above.

I’ll cover the last one first because it’s just one of those dumb mistakes you regret immediately when you get home. Make sure you take off a lens hood or a UV filter before you put your circular polarizer on. We’ve all done it; don’t be a part of our stupidity. 

Another issue, one I briefly touched on earlier, is that you run the chance of underexposing your photos while using a circular polarizer, particularly if you’re shooting in low light. 

You can fix this issue quickly: use a longer shutter speed with a tripod.

The final common issue, differential polarization, basically means different parts of your photo have differing amounts of polarization. The way circular polarizers work means that if you’re shooting a wide expanse of space, like a landscape, then light will hit each part of that landscape in a different way. The polarizing filter will work separately on each part of the landscape and will look odd if you don’t fix it.

You can fix this issue one of a few ways: avoid long shots of wide open, blue sky in your photos or dodge and burn the photos in Photoshop. 

And that’s a quick rundown of how to use a circular polarizer!

Learn More:

 



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Landscape Photography Techniques You Need to Try

Landscape Photography Techniques You Need to Try

photo by HaizhanZheng via iStock 

Landscape photography tips are redundant. Shoot with the horizon straight and shoot during golden hour aren’t really specific tips to landscape photography and they definitely don’t make you a better landscape photographer.

In order to truly improve your landscape photography, you need to learn how to think differently than your competitors. What landscape photography comes down to is being comfortable in life’s most uncomfortable circumstances.

So, if you’re ready to bring home shots that will make your friends jealous, here is PhotographyTalk’s list of real landscape photography tips. 

Table of Contents

Landscape Photography Technique #1: You Left Your Tripod at Home. So What? 

landscape photography techniques

Photo by Yash Prajapati on Unsplash 

You do not always need a tripod. Run that through your head a few times. And then the next time you accidentally forget your tripod at home, run it through your head a few more times.

I recently found myself on a photography trip in Hawaii. I was about 6 miles into a 12-mile hike with about 30 pounds of photography equipment strapped to my back. Imagine my disbelief when I realized I forgot my tripod at my AirBnB. 

I could have freaked out (and maybe I freaked out a little bit for only like the first 10 minutes), but then I switched the aim of my shoot.

If you’re shooting during daylight with a high shutter speed, you don’t need a tripod to shoot a waterfall… or a sunset. You basically don’t need a tripod so long as you have sufficient light.

I was planning on using my favorite neutral density (ND) filter to shoot the Maunawili Falls (frankly because there aren’t any high-quality stock images of the waterfall because it’s so far into the backwoods of Oahu) 

landscape photography tips

photo by vovamir via iStock 

But an ND filter, like Kenko’s ridiculously cheap Pro1 slim frame lens filter, must be used with a tripod…

ND filters, for those of you who are new to the photography game, basically just control how much light can enter your lens. They come in a variety of strengths - ND4, ND10, and so on, where the higher the number, the darker the filter, and thus the less light that enters the camera’s lens.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

ND filters - the good ones, anyway - do not affect the color of light or polarization of the shot. You can use ND filters for time-based effects, like the one below, that blur the movement of features that are in motion, like water or clouds. 

Of course, the stronger the filter, the more pronounced the motion effects will be.

landscape photography tips for beginners

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash 

It’s easiest to see the effects of an ND filter in shots like this one that include water or the sky. Water tends to smooth out, while clouds tend to blur together, when you use an ND filter.

Additionally, including elements that are static - like the rocks in the foreground above - help accentuate the indicated motion of the clouds and the water.

But, if you don’t have a tripod like I didn’t, then your end photo would look more like a horrific panorama shot with a shaky hand on an iPhone. Because the shutter speeds are so long when you use an ND filter, a tripod is an absolute must. 

So, instead of shooting the falls with an ND filter  like I had hoped to, I shot a break in the trail where I could see endless jungle for miles.

advanced landscape photography techniques

Photo by Martin Zangerl on Unsplash 

So, while a solid tripod is an essential part of any landscape photographer’s kit, you don’t have to have one every single time you press the shutter button. 

Instead, think on your feet, change the goals of your shoot, and find ways to capture nature’s beauty without relying on a tripod.

Landscape Photography Technique #2: Forget About Your Camera’s Price Point

landscape photography tips for beginners 3

Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash 

Do you want to know a secret… the reason people are obsessed with these $100 camera vs. $10,000 camera videos on YouTube (like the one below by Peter McKinnon) is that the price tag on your camera really doesn’t matter if you know what you’re doing with it. 

I know forgetting about your budget is harder to do than I’m making it seem, especially when it feels like all of the photographers you admire are the influencers who seem to have an endless supply of money to buy an endless supply of camera equipment, but stick with me.

Even your favorite photographers started off with a cheap camera. And even the world’s best photographers will challenge themselves to use antique cameras and vintage lenses to increase their creativity. 

So, while it may feel like you’re trapped with your photography equipment, you will find that you take much better photos if you have the confidence of someone with a $10,000 camera. 

People with $10,000 cameras never shy away from getting in someone’s way to get a good shot. People with $10,000 cameras also need to worry about jumping in a lake with their equipment. You don’t. It’s the best of both worlds.

Use it! 

Learn More: 

Landscape Photography Technique #3: Shoot Outside of Golden Hour 

landscape photography techniques 2

photo by ananaline via iStock 

We get it... “Golden hour is the best time to shoot everything and anything,” says everyone.

But I really don’t agree and I don’t think you should either. 

Landscape photography is one of the best types of photography to be shooting during odd times of day because it can be one of the moodiest types of photography. 

The reason Scotland always looks so fantastic and otherworldly in stock photos is because it’s a cloudy nation.

landscape photography tips for beginners 2

Photo by Nuno Antunes on Unsplash 

landscape photography tips 2

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash 

If I asked you to compare these two pictures of Scotland’s landscape, which one feels more quintessentially Scottish to you?

For my money, it’s the first one. The cloud cover adds so much drama to the shot. There’s not a hint of golden hour lighting, yet it’s a compelling image if you ask me. 

Sometimes the answer to golden hour is, “I frankly don’t want to wake up that early.” And the great thing is that you don’t have to wake up that early!

Challenge yourself to shoot during mid-morning, mid-afternoon, in the evening, and at blue hour too. You’ll find that the landscape looks completely different depending on the time of day.

Landscape Photography Technique #4: Be a Tourist, But Also Be a Traveler

landscape photography techniques 3

photo by AZCat via iStock 

Social media unearthed a very human need to tell and retell the same stories. 

These same stories, known as social media hotspots, create a slew of tourists looking to photograph what everyone else is photographing.

Take, for example, the California Superbloom. About 150,000 tourists wrecked a tiny town in California because other people were there taking pictures of some cool flowers. 

This type of mob mentality tends to frequent the photography world. People flock to Paris for pictures of the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre; they attack specific parts of the wilderness in Iceland and Norway. 

View this post on Instagram

Returning to the US with a serious case of the Monday blues.

A post shared by KB ☾ (@katielynnbens) on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:13am PDT

View this post on Instagram

Iceland has my heart...and my wallet 💸

A post shared by Marianne (@marianne.vignola) on Jun 23, 2019 at 3:35pm PDT

And a lot of photographers never venture outside of these popular spots. As a landscape photographer, you need to be a traveler, not a tourist. 

You can find lots of opinions online about the differences between a tourist and a traveler. But, in the context of landscape photography, I believe the difference is that you look for things other people haven’t found.

Don’t go where your friends have been; definitely don’t go where Google tells you to. When you visit a place with the end goal of photography the landscape there, go where the locals tell you to and go wherever you happen to end up. 

Sometimes spontaneity leads to better creativity. 

Learn More:

 



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Landscape Photography Tricks You Should Be Using

landscape photography tricksPhoto by Marc Zimmer on Unsplash

Landscape photography is easy, right? Just point your camera at something pretty and you're good to go!

Wrong...

Creating epic landscape photos like the one above takes a lot of time, practice, and patience.

Having a few landscape photography tricks up your sleeve helps, too.

With that in mind, here are a few tried-and-true landscape photography tricks you should be using to get more impactful images.

Compose the Shot With a Focal Point in Mind

focal point 1Image Credit: bluejayphoto via iStock

One of the things that separates professional landscape photos from amateur landscape photos is the presence of a strong subject.

Professional images have something that anchors the shot and immediately catches the viewer's attention.

And this doesn't have to be a big landscape feature like a mountain, either.

Instead, a strong focal point can be a color, a bright area of light, a building (as shown above), or even a person (people work very well with landscapes!).

So, when composing your landscapes, think about what you can use as an anchor in the shot. More than that, think about where you'll place that anchor.

Bear in mind the rule of thirds to help you create something that's visually balanced, and try using tricks like leading lines to help make the focal point of the shot even more obvious.

If you do these things, you'll end up with an image that takes people on a journey rather than one that looks and feels empty.

Learn More:

Use a Polarizing Filter

use a polarizing filterImage Credit: Koldunova_Anna via iStock

I have to admit that I didn't start using filters of any kind for several years after I got my first camera.

I think that I was just intimidated by having yet another thing to account for in my workflow. I was having enough trouble learning camera settings at that point!

But to set aside filters as not being a crucial part of creating landscape photos is a huge mistake. That's especially true of a polarizing filter because it can do so much for your photos.

Consider the benefits of polarizing filters:

  • Reduces glare off non-metallic surfaces like water and wet foliage.
  • Boosts contrast in the sky, making the clouds brighter and whiter on a deeper blue backdrop.
  • Minimizes atmospheric haze so distant objects are crisper. 

So, as you can see, when you're shooting landscapes, learning how to use a circular polarizer can do a lot to help you get the shot as close to perfect in-camera as possible.

That means more time out in the field shooting and less time in front of your camera trying to correct things. That sounds like a deal to me!

Of course, not all filters are made alike, so be careful when you invest in one for your kit.

 

how to use a circular polarizer

 

Personally, I'm a big fan of Kenko polarizing filters because they offer a nice balance between excellent build quality and price.

Kenko is the largest filter company in Japan, and they have fine-tuned the process of making filters over many, many years.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

The result - particularly with their Puro Line of filters - is a tool that maximizes performance, protects your lens, reduced vignetting when shooting with a wide-angle lens, and has multiple coatings to prevent water, dust, and oils from damaging the filter surface.

Best of all, these filters are reasonably priced, so you can add one to your kit without feeling like you need to take out a loan.

It's a win-win!

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Give Viewers Something to See by Maximizing the Depth of Field

Typically, when shooting landscapes, you want to have a deep depth of field, meaning, have as much of the shot in focus as possible.

By having clear, sharp features from foreground to background, you're able to create an image that has a ton of dimension. Besides, it's the way we see landscapes with our own eyes!

The easiest way to get a large depth of field is to use a smaller aperture opening, like f/16, because the smaller the aperture opening, the greater the depth of field.

Of course, you don't have to use the smallest aperture to get great depth of field. In fact, because lenses are often sharpest in the f/8-f/11 range, choosing an aperture between those values will often get you the best results.

If you're not sure how to manipulate aperture, shooting in aperture priority mode is a great way to start taking more control over your camera.

For a comprehensive discussion of depth of field, have a look at the video above by Professional Photography Tips.

And there you have it - three tried-and-true landscape photography tricks that will help you improve the quality of your photos.

Learn More:



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Landscape Photography: 5 Underrated Ways to Improve Your Photos

5 Underrated Ways to Improve Your Photos

Photo by Yuriy Garnaev on Unsplash

Landscape photography, like any other type of photography, is one that requires us to continually learn and grow behind the lens.

There is always something to learn, new techniques to try, and unique ways to improve our photos.

There are a zillion landscape photography tips out there, but rather than rehash the same old ones about using leading lines and the rule of thirds, let’s discuss five underrated ways to improve your landscape photography. 

Landscape Photography Tip: Use Filters

landscape photography tip

photo by anyaberkut via iStock 

 While we have very powerful post-processing tools at our disposal that can help correct a myriad of problems with our photos, they can’t match the quality of performance you get from using lens filters.

By using lens filters, you exert much more precise control over how the final image looks and you do it in-camera. That means more time actually out amongst the beauty of nature and less time slumped over your laptop in your basement trying to get the same effects in post-processing. And that’s just one of the advantages of lens filters.

Landscape photography

Photo by Pietro De Grandi on Unsplash 

When it comes to filters for landscape photography, the first one you should buy is a circular polarizer.

A polarizer is unique in that it improves your images in a myriad of ways. Polarizers:

  • Reduce glare off of water and other non-metallic surfaces, which allows the viewer to see the fine details of the shot (like what’s below the surface of the water).
  • Reduce atmospheric haze, which makes distant landscape features look crisper (and less blue).
  • Boost contrast in the sky, which makes the atmosphere a deeper blue and the clouds a brighter white. 

 landscape photography gear tip use a polarizer

But not all polarizing filters are alike. You want one that is crafted of polished glass so the results you get are clear and sharp. Likewise, you want to ensure the filter housing is slim, otherwise it could cause vignetting when shooting with a wide-angle lens.

The best filter I’ve found to resolve these issues is the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

I’ve been impressed with its build quality and durability as I’ve used it in various landscape situations. The Japanese polished glass gets me the results I want, the filter is easy to manipulate in its housing, and the slim filter ring means there’s no vignetting, either. 

Best of all, this filter is inexpensive, so you get the advantage of a high-quality filter without having to pay out the nose for it. What’s not to like about that?!

 filters for landscape photography

 Photo by Yuriy Garnaev on Unsplash

Quick Tip: I’d also recommend you add a variable ND filter to your bag. What’s great about variable ND filters is that you can adjust its light-stopping power on the fly, so it’s like having a full ND filter kit in a single filter. That means you can slow the shutter speed just a little (as was done in the photo above) or a whole lot to change the effects of motion blur in your landscape photos. Learn why variable ND filters are better than fixed ND filters.

Learn More:

Landscape Photography Lens: Give a Telephoto a Try 

landscape photography lens

photo by welcomia via iStock 

Though it’s most common to use a wide-angle lens for landscape photography, there are plenty of reasons why you should add a telephoto lens to your camera bag, not the least of which is that you can create more interesting and unique images.

Because of the added reach of a telephoto lens, you can zero in on a small aspect of the larger landscape and highlight it in the shot. 

By the same token, you can more easily exclude unwanted elements too. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone in the summer, you know the value of being able to frame people and cars out of your shots.

landscape photography composition tip 2

 photo by HansUntch via iStock

Likewise, telephoto lenses compress the scene, so that distant mountain that looks so small in your wide-angle shot now become a much more impressive, frame-filling element, as shown above.

You don’t need a super telephoto lens, either. A 70-200mm lens will work great for many applications, particularly if you shoot with an APS-C camera as the crop factor will extend the reach of the lens.

landscape photography gear tip 2

 photo by GoodLifeStudio via iStock

There are many Canon telephoto lenses, Nikon telephoto lenses, Sigma telephoto lenses, and you can even get a telephoto lens for iPhone, so it’s not like there isn’t a huge selection of lenses that you can try for your particular camera.

There is an art to using a telephoto lens for landscape photography, though. Learn a few tips and tricks to help you out.

Learn More:

Cropping a Photo Can Do Wonders for Its Quality 

photo cropping tool

Photo by Marco Bonomo on Unsplash

When people think of ways to improve their landscape photos, I’m not sure they have the photo cropping tool high on their list. 

That’s a mistake, though, because photo cropping can have a significant, positive impact on how the image looks, even though it’s a very basic tool and process.

Much like using a telephoto lens, learning how to master the cropping tool allows you to highlight certain features in the landscape and exclude unwanted features.

Quick Tip: Using photo cropping software like Lightroom or Photoshop can also help you make gains with your landscape photography composition skills. By experimenting with how you crop, you can develop an improved eye for framing, which can help you create much-improved landscape compositions. Nigel Danson explains how in the video above.

Learn More:

Landscape Photography Composition Tip: Highlight Patterns 

elements of composition in photography

photo by JayKay57 via iStock 

As noted earlier, there are loads of photography composition techniques and photography composition rules you can use to enhance the quality of your photos.

But there are more elements of composition in photography than using leading lines or the rule of thirds or a frame within a frame.

Using patterns in your landscape compositions is a great way to increase the visual appeal of the shot because our eyes and brains naturally like patterns.

The repetition of shapes, colors, patterns, and textures is pleasing to the eye, and these things occur in nature all the time. 

When you come upon a scene, take a moment to survey it and see if there are any patterns that you can exploit to create a better photo. 

photography composition tips

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash 

Conversely, breaking up patterns can also lead to a better composition.

Above, the linear pattern created by the tree trunks is nice to look at, but the addition of the sun flare to break up that pattern leads to a more compelling shot. 

Adding that brightness and the shafts of light filtering through the trees helps our eyes gravitate deeper into the shot toward the sun. In that regard, breaking up the pattern by using light serves the same effect as a leading line - it helps connect the foreground, midground, and background and gives the image a greater sense of depth.

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Advanced Landscape Photography: Use Color Theory  

color theory basics

photo by focusstock via iStock 

When creating your landscape photo, it’s obviously important to concentrate on the composition, on using light and shadow to create interest, and having a strong subject.

But don’t discount color wheel theory as being a highly useful tool for making beautiful photos.

If you recall back to your elementary school art class, a color theory definition might have been the use of color to improve how something looks.

In landscape photography, you might try to use complementary colors - the ones on opposite sides of the color wheel - to create contrast that’s pleasing to the eye. 

For example, blue and orange are complementary colors, and the coolness of the blue and the warmth of the orange make for a fantastic combination. That’s why sunsets are so pretty!

Likewise, purple and yellow and red and green can be used as the basis of eye-catching color schemes in your photos. 

Get a detailed tutorial on color theory basics and using color theory in landscape photography in the video above by Dave Morrow. You can also purchase this color theory book to get additional details.

Learn More: 



We Recommend


Learn Landscape Photography by Trying These Simple Techniques

Learn Landscape Photography

photo bywildart via iStock

The great thing about landscape photography is that there’s no lack of subject matter on which you can practice your craft. That means there’s no excuses for not getting out there and taking some shots!

If you want to learn landscape photography without getting bogged down in complicated tutorials, this article is for you.

In it, I outline a few quick and easy landscape photography tips that will help you improve the quality of your photos.

Landscape Photography Composition Tip: Focus on Scale

landscape photography tips

 photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock

One of the difficulties of landscape photography is that sometimes it’s hard to communicate the scale of the scene in the photograph.

That is, the big, majestic mountains you see before you can look a little less awe-inspiring in your photos, particularly if you use a smartphone or a wide-angle lens on your DSLR or mirrorless camera.

The reason for this is because wide-angle lenses accentuate the size of elements near to them while de-emphasizing the size of elements far away. 

landscape photography settings

 photo by aluxum via iStock

There are a couple of things you can do to address this problem: shoot with a longer focal length lens or incorporate elements that speak to the scale of the scene.

Not everyone has the finances to go out and snag a telephoto lens, so let’s focus instead on how to use scale to enhance the photo.

landscape photography tutorial

 photo by stockstudioX via iStock

By adding foreground elements of a familiar size - a person, a bike, a dog, or anything of such sort - you immediately indicate to the viewer how big and vast the rest of the scene is.

In other words, you give the viewer a means of comparing the size of your subject and a much smaller element. Not only does this help create the sense of grandeur that you see with your own eyes, but it can also make for a rather dramatic photo as well.

Granted, focusing on scale alone isn’t going to get you the same results as shooting with a longer lens, but it’s a great place to start. If you want to learn landscape photography, adding new composition tricks to your toolkit won’t hurt!

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Landscape Photography Gear Tip: Add a Circular Polarizing Filter to Your Kit

fundamentals of landscape photography

photo bybluejayphoto via iStock

Another common problem you’ll encounter when trying to learn landscape photography is glare off of the surface of rivers, streams, lakes, and other bodies of water.

Not only is the bright reflection a huge distraction in the shot, but it also prevents the viewer from seeing into the water. The shapes, textures, and patterns of rocks and other underwater features can add wonderful depth and visual interest to the shot, so it’s something you want viewers to see!

 landscape photography gear tip use a polarizer

The solution to this problem is to use a circular polarizing filter like the one shown above. 

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

A circular polarizer simply screws onto the end of your lens. To adjust the filter, all you have to do is turn it in its housing to increase or decrease its effect.

Polarizing filters work best when the sun is at a 45-degree angle, though even if you aren’t quite at a 45-degree angle you’ll still notice a reduction in glare.

landscape photography composition tip

photo byfotoVoyager via iStock

What’s more, circular polarizers reduce atmospheric haze - the stuff that makes distant features look blue - and they also boost contrast in the sky so the clouds pop more against a darker blue.

In other words, a polarizing filter is a triple-threat tool for improving your images. What’s not to like about that?!

Editor’s Tip: High-quality circular polarizers do all this without reducing the sharpness of the image and without introducing vignetting. What’s more, A good polarizer resists dust, dirt, water, and smudges, that way you spend less time cleaning your filter and more time taking photos. When shopping for a polarizer, look for one with precision-polished optical glass and a slim housing ring to get the best results as you learn landscape photography. 

Landscape Photography Settings Tip: Use Aperture Priority Mode 

landscape photography settings 2

photo by tomch via iStock 

To fully learn landscape photography, you’ll need to develop an understanding of the exposure controls - aperture, shutter speed, and ISO - which are collectively known as the Exposure Triangle.

Additionally, learning how to shoot in manual mode so you can freely manipulate each of the three exposure controls as needed is a good goal to set.

For now, though, manual mode might be a little intimidating, so you can do the next best thing and shoot in aperture priority mode.

landscape photography gear tip

photo by FabrikaCr via iStock 

Labeled A or Av on your camera dial, aperture priority mode gives you much more control over the exposure settings while still letting the camera help you out. 

In this mode, you determine the aperture setting and the ISO, and the camera will select a shutter speed to match, that way you get a good exposure.

Obviously, the advantage of using aperture priority mode is that you can begin to take more control over the camera without having to deal with all three exposure settings yourself.

Learn Landscape Photography 2

photo by xalanx via iStock  

Consider aperture priority mode a nice stepping stone between shooting in full auto and full manual. You can learn more about how the aperture affects the exposure and see how it changes the artistic look of the shot, too - after all, aperture is one of the components responsible for depth of field

There’s a lot more to learn about landscape photography settings, the fundamentals of landscape photography, landscape photography composition, and so forth. But for now, this short landscape photography tutorial will help you get on the right path to creating better landscape photos.

Learn More:

 



We Recommend


Lens Filter Buying Guide

lens filter buying guide 2020

Photo by oxime via iStock

With the calendar firmly into 2020, I figured it was time to unleash an updated lens filter buying guide.

There is a wide variety of filters you can have in your camera bag, both in terms of types and manufacturers.

But like camera lenses, lens filters are not all made alike - cheap filters can cause color casts, vignetting, and degrade the sharpness of an image.

In other words, why invest in a great lens if you're going to put a junk filter on the front of it?

Bear in mind that I'm using "cheap" as a reference to build quality, not to price. There are many excellent budget lens filters that will give you excellent results.

Without further ado, let's get to the best lens filters for 2020 - lens filter kits, circular polarizers, ND filters, and more!

Haida M10 Pro Filter Kit

best lens filters haida 1

I recently got my hands on the Haida M10 Pro 100mm filter kit, and I have to say that I'm impressed.

I've used other Haida filter systems as well, and they are a great combination of features, quality, and price.

In this case, the kit has a 100mm filter holder that has a drop-in slot for a circular polarizer. This makes it quick and easy to add or remove the CPL as needed. As a landscape photographer, having a good circular polarizer is an absolute must!

haida 2

In this case, I particularly appreciate the gear on the side of the drop-in filter slot that allows me to rotate the polarizer with much greater ease.

Likewise, the filter hold rotates 360-degrees so I can position the filters with precision. The locking mechanism keeps everything in place, too.

In front of that are three slots for 100mm filters, so you can purchase solid ND filters, graduated ND filters, or reverse grads and add them to the holder for the specific effects you need.

The kit includes four adapter rings to accommodate popular lens sizes (67mm, 72mm, 77mm, and 82mm), a storage pouch, and four lens caps. Get more details in the video below by Ikan International:

With all these components included in the kit, this is a great starter filter kit for any photographer.

And with Haida's extensive line of 100mm filters, you can add the necessary filters to the kit as you go along and build a high-quality system that helps you improve the quality of your photos.

Price: $228.27 at Amazon

Learn more about the Haida M10 Pro Filter Kit

Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizer

best budget friendly filtersPhoto by Gary Gray via iStock

If you ask me, there is no more important filter to buy than a circular polarizer.

That's because a polarizing filter can have a positive impact on your photos in a whole host of ways.

They cut down glare off of non-metallic surfaces like water and they also help boost the contrast in the sky for a deeper blue atmosphere and whiter clouds.

Additionally, a polarizing filter cuts down on atmospheric haze so distant elements in the shot appear to be crisper, as shown in the image above.

If you're after a budget-friendly polarizer, look no further than the Kenko Nyumon polarizer shown above.

This filter is crafted using optical-quality glass that's polished and coated to repel everything from water droplets to the oils from your skin.

On top of that, Kenko has smartly mounted it in a SLIM ring, that way there's less chance of vignetting occurring when using a wide-angle lens.

kenko 37mm filter

There's a wide range of sizes available as well, so virtually any lens you have, Kenko likely has a polarizer to fit.

And starting at less than $15.00, these things are easy on your bank account too!

This is a prime example of how budget lens filters can strike a balance between price and performance.

Price: Starting at $43.00 at Kenko Imaging USA

Learn more about the Kenko Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

PolarPro Summit Filter Kit

top filters 2020 polarpro

Earlier, I mentioned that not all filters are made alike.

The Summit filter kit by PolarPro is an excellent example of that sentiment.

To begin, this system has an integrated circular polarizer. 

As you can see above, the polarizer slides into the filter holder to create a light-sealed system. The CPL is both low-low profile (to prevent vignetting) and it installs and removes easily.

polarpro summit 2

What's more, the Summit system has tool-free mounting options, a tool-less rail mount, and a snap-on hood attachment that make using this system a breeze. This is a huge benefit for those instances in which the light is changing quickly and you need to adapt your setup sooner rather than later.

PolarPro has made the Summit system super lightweight, too, so you don't have to carry a big, heavy, bulky set of filters around with you as you seek the next great photo opportunity.

polarpro summit 1

It helps that each filter has an aluminum frame, as that reduces fingerprints on the filter glass while also maximizing protection for the filter.

And since these filters are available in 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, and 95mm, you can find the right size for your specific needs.

If you're a landscape photographer and you don't have a good set of filters, the PolarPro Summit system is an excellent option for you.

Price: $599.99 at PolarPro

Learn more about the PolarPro Summit Filter System

Formatt-Hitech Firecrest Ultra ND Filter

top lens filters 2020 hitech

A solid ND filter allows you to slow down the shutter speed or open up the aperture when shooting in bright conditions without overexposing the image.

Photos with blurred motion wouldn't be possible when shooting in broad daylight, because all that light from the long shutter speed would result in a completely blown out photo.

ND filters come in all kinds of strengths, with darker ND filters blocking out more light, thus allowing you to get longer exposures or use larger apertures.

firecrest 2

Formatt-Hitech's Firecrest Ultra ND filters are a good choice because they offer excellent features without busting your budget.

These filters are bonded, which helps protect the filter's coating from damage. This means that you get a filter that helps you achieve your photographic goals while also giving you longer-lasting and durable performance over the long-term.

Formatt-Hitech also uses a lap and polish technique when manufacturing the Firecrest Ultra ND filters, which results in glass that offers hyper-neutral performance. There is no color casting and you get superb sharpness, minimal aberrations, and enhanced clarity, too.

firecrest 3

These filters are available as 100mm x 100mm squares and come in a wide range of popular densities from 1 to 10 stops.

If you're in need of an ultra-dark filter, though, Formatt-Hitech has Firecrest Ultra NDs that go from 13 stops up to a whopping 24 stops!

It's that kind of variety that enables you to select the precise ND filters you need to create beautiful long exposure images, even on the brightest of days.

Price: Starting at $179.00 at Formatt-Hitech

Singh-Ray Variable ND Filter

best lens filters for 2020 singh ray

Years ago, variable ND filters didn't have a good reputation. They just didn't work well and left you with images that had artifacts that ruined your images.

But today's variable ND filters are a new breed, and options like this one from Singh-Ray are among the best.

A variable ND filter is one of the best filters for landscape photography.

In a single filter, you have the capability of blocking anywhere from two to eight stops of light with the turn of the filter in its housing.

If you need to build a run and gun setup, having a single variable ND filter could be advantageous, rather than carrying multiple ND filters to achieve the same feat.

singh rayImage Credit: Marco Crupi

As explained earlier, an ND filter is a must-have if you want to introduce motion effects - like blurry water or clouds - when photographing during the daytime.

With this filter, all you have to do is turn the filter to control how much light passes through the lens. And since it's a Singh-Ray, you can depend on quality construction that retains the color fidelity of the scene (and the sharpness, too).

Variable ND filters aren't just for still photography, though - you can utilize them when shooting video as well!

Price: $340.00 at Amazon

Learn more about the Singh-Ray Variable ND filter

Breakthrough Photography X4 Circular Polarizer

breathrough photography

Breakthrough Photography's X4 circular polarizer is a top choice of many photographers thanks to its excellent performance and superb build quality.

The durable design is built to withstand the rough-and-tumble world of landscape photography. You can use it in high winds, in the presence of saltwater or dust, and other arduous environmental conditions and not worry that it will fail.

Additionally, these filters are guaranteed to maintain their optical clarity and color neutrality for 25 years thanks to its weather-sealed design.

breakthrough 1

This polarizing filter is one of our best filters for 2020 because of its nanocoating. Breakthrough Photography utilizes a bespoke nanotec coating that beads water and other elements off the glass. This means a cleaner filter for improved results while minimizing smearing, fingerprints, and so forth.

Paired with the SCHOTT Superwhite B270 optical glass, you get excellent light transmission, particularly in the ultraviolet, visible, and infrared spectrums.

Add to that a state-of-the-art multi-resistant coating that reduces reflections and improves contrast, and you have a recipe for a polarizer you can get a lot of mileage out of (and great results, too).

Price: Starting at $129.00 at Adorama

Lee Hard-Edge Graduated ND Filter

lee hard grad nd

Our Lens Filter Buying Guide 2020 wouldn't be complete without a hard-edge graduated ND filter.

This one, by Lee, comes in various sizes to accommodate different setups, including 75mm x 90mm, 100mm x 150mm, and 150mm x 170mm. They're also available in various strengths, from 1-stop to 4-stops.

These hard-edge grads are perfect for landscape situations in which there is a definite horizon.

The quick transition from darkened to undarkened areas allows you to match up the filter with the horizon and get the desired filter effects for the sky while leaving the landscape below it untouched.

lee grad nd

What sets this filter apart from those by other manufacturers is that it is hand-made with a gradual build-up of the ND gradation.

The gradation on the filter is created by dipping the filter into baths of dye. As a result of this hand-made process, you get hyper-accurate results that give you the ultimate in creative control.

With a hard-edge grad or two in your bag, you'll be better equipped to create beautiful landscape images that are well-exposed throughout.

Between the quality build and reasonable prices, you can see why this is among the best lens filters for 2020!

Price: Starting at $113.00 at Adorama

Learn more about Lee Hard-Edge Graduated ND Filters

Argraph Marumi M100 Filter System

marumi m100 holder

Marumi’s Magnetic M100 Filter Holder and their line of magnetic filters are just what the doctor ordered for photographers that are sick of sliding filters in and out of their holders.

The M100 filter holder sports a slim 10mm design with strong magnetic attachments that hold the filter in place. The foam gaskets on the filter holder ensure that there are no light leaks to ruin your photos.

marumi circular polarizer

If using a circular polarizer, it rotates independently in the filter holder and features water and oil-repellent coatings on both sides that minimizes clean up.

The filter also has anti-static-anti-scratch, and anti-reflection properties that ensure you have the ideal shooting experience.

marumi soft ND

The other magnetic filters in Marumi’s lineup have the same features, including their graduated ND filters and solid ND Filters.

The graduated ND filters include hard-edge, soft-edge (as shown above), and reverse grads for photographing landscapes with a definite horizon, a variable horizon, and at sunrise and sunset, respectively.

marumi solid nd

Of course, there are also many different solid ND filters available from 2-stops all the way up to 15-stops.

Like the other Marumi filters mentioned above, these ND filters are made of durable Schott 5270 glass that offers high-definition results.

When photographing landscapes, the quality of light can change from one second to the next. That’s why this magnetic system is so compelling - by reducing the time spent swapping out filters, you can spend more time photographing the beauty before you!

Price: $149.99 for the M100 Filter Holder, $139.95 for the circular polarizer, and $199.95 for solid ND filters.

Cokin P-Series Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

cokin 1

Another popular filter for landscape photographers is a soft-edge grad, like this one by Cokin.

A soft-edge grad is ideally suited for use when there is not a definite horizon.

Unlike the hard-edge grad we discussed above, this one has a much more gradual transition from the filtered to non-filtered areas.

This allows for use in situations in which there are undulations in the horizon line, and when buildings, trees, and other objects that extend above the horizon.

cokin 2

cokin 3

What makes this Cokin soft-edge grad so great is its price - it's one of the best budget lens filters we've yet to find at less than $28.

But don't let that cheap price fool you - this is a well-built filter that performs well (as shown by the before and after photos above), which is why it has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Adorama!

It's specifically designed for use with Cokin's excellent P-series filter holder and features hyper-neutral results that you would expect from a high-quality filter.

This filter comes as a 3-stop, which is an ideal strength for many landscape photography situations in which the bright sky needs to be brought down a little.

Price: $27.61 at Adorama

Learn more about the Cokin P-Series Soft-Edge Graduated ND Filter

Haida NanoPro MC Reverse ND Grad

haida reverse nd grad

Last but not least, a great filter to have in your camera bag is a reverse ND grad, like this one by Haida.

A reverse ND grad is specifically designed for sunrise and sunset photos when the brightest part of the sky is along the horizon.

As you can see, the darkest part of the filter is in the middle, and it gradually gets lighter as you go toward the top (with no filtration on the bottom). This means you can manage the brightness of the sky along the horizon without impacting the darker areas of the sky above and the darker landscape below.

haida reverse nd grad 2

As you'd expect from Haida, this filter is well made without a huge price tag.

You get a high-quality, multi-layered filter that helps repel dirt and smudges. These filters are also extremely scratch-resistant, which is exactly what you want for your landscape photography outings.

These filters offer excellent sharpness, zero color casting, and they reduce reflections as well.

The high-grade optical glass is durable, too.

Price: Starting at $90.00 at Adorama 

 

 



We Recommend


Must-Have Beginner Photography Gear

Must Have Beginner Photography Gear

photo by swissmediavision via iStock

 If you’re just getting started in photography, you might be suffering a bit from sticker shock…

Cameras, lenses, tripods, filters, camera straps, and other photography gear can be extremely expensive. In fact, pros can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on gear.

Since most of us don’t have that kind of money laying around, here’s a short list of must-have beginner photography gear that won’t break the bank, but won’t sacrifice performance, either.

A High-Performance, Affordable Camera Strap

hiiguy 1

Believe it or not, there are camera straps out there that cost hundreds of dollars.

But when you’re a beginner photographer, you don’t need to spend that kind of cash to get a top-quality camera strap.

I’ve been testing the HiiGuy Camera Strap for a few months now, and my initial impressions - that this was a well-made, well-designed, and comfortable strap - still remain today.

hiiguy 2

 I use this strap to carry around my big and heavy Nikon D850 with a 24-70 lens and an L-bracket attached, and I’ve never once felt like the HiiGuy Camera Strap wasn’t up to the task.

Upgrade your camera strap today for less than $30

The construction of the strap is top-notch, with upgraded metal components that ensure your camera stays attached. There’s even dual attachment points - the primary clip and a safety tether - that way if one should fail, there’s a backup in place.

hiiguy 3

This strap is comfortable too. Like I said, I use it to tote around my big full frame DSLR, and I don’t experience any shoulder or neck fatigue thanks to the big, padded shoulder pad.

The shoulder pad even has a grippy underside so I don’t have to constantly adjust the strap on my shoulder. It also features a handy zippered pocket that’s ideal for keeping a spare memory card.

hiiguy 4

 This strap is highly adjustable, so as a big dude, it allows me to carry my camera exactly where I want on my body. My wife - who’s about a foot shorter than me - can do the same.

Best of all, this strap is less than $30, so you don’t have to break the bank to get a strap that’s comfortable, functional, and provides your camera with the security it needs.

Learn More:

Must-Have Beginner Photography Gear: An Easy-to-Use Photo Editor

luminar easy to use photo editor

When you're just starting out in photography, one of the things that can overwhelm you the most is trying to learn how to edit your photos.

Smartphone apps have made the process of editing a little easier, with pre-made filters and easy-to-use controls. The problem, of course, is that these apps often lack the power and tools that full-blown editors boast.

Now, though, there's a photo editor that combines powerful features with an intuitive UI and tools that are simple to understand and use, even if you're a brand-new photographer. That editor is Luminar 3.

luminar looks

There are several things that set Luminar apart from the competition.

First, there are dozens of "Looks" that add style to your images or correct common problems instantaneously.

Start making beautiful edits of your photos today.

You can adjust the amount of the Look by manipulating a slider (sliders are also used to adjust filters, as shown below), so you still have control over how the Look changes your image, but in a way that's super streamlined.

These Looks are a perfect starting point for your editing process, and as you hone your post-processing skills, you can even create and save your own Looks!

luminar 3 filters

Another feature of Luminar that's of great benefit to beginner photographers is that you can make precise adjustments without making selections.

If you've ever watched a post-processing tutorial on YouTube, you know that making selections can be a very time-intensive task.

But with Luminar, there's no need to make selections when you use one of the image aware filters that are available to you.

 image

For example, if you want to give the sky in a landscape image more pop, you can use the AI Sky Enhancer, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze the image, masks everything but the sky, and applies the effects of the filter to give the sky more color, contrast, and definition.

And, just like with the Looks discussed earlier, you can fine-tune how the AI Sky Enhancer is applied by adjusting a single slider (as shown above).

There are other image aware filters, too - one to enhance foliage, one to enhance details and sharpness, one to precisely adjust tonal contrast, and another to selectively enhance cool and warm tones in an image.

These filters can help you create gorgeously rich photos and without spending a ton of time doing so. It's a win-win!

Luminar UI 03 1

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the value that Luminar 3 brings to the table.

Where you have to pay a recurring fee to use other photo editors, Luminar is $69. That's a one-time fee for lifetime access.

When you have to pay for a camera, lenses, filters, a tripod, a camera bag, and other necessities, it's nice to be able to get a powerful, feature-rich photo editor without spending an arm and a leg.

Learn More:

A Budget-Friendly Zoom Lens

Must Have Beginner Photography Gear A Budget Friendly Zoom Lens

 Photo by Sami Boudjelti on Unsplash

 When you bought your first camera, chances are that it came with a modest zoom lens, likely something along the lines of an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6.

And while kit zoom lenses have their merits as a beginner’s learning tool, they aren’t the best lenses in the world.

Get a better lens without breaking the bank

For sharper photos with less aberrations, consider upgrading to a better zoom lens.

Again, you don’t have to spend a mountain of money to get a lens that will perform better for you than your current kit zoom. In fact, there’s quite a selection of budget-friendly zoom lenses from which to choose.

In the video above, Art of the Image outlines three excellent zoom lenses for Canon crop sensor cameras that are worthy of consideration:

The beauty of the lenses listed above is that they offer improved performance over a standard kit lens. For example, if you like to photograph landscapes, the EF-S 10-18mm lens allows you to capture more of the scene with its much shorter focal lengths.

 lensfinder 1

Alternatively, the EF-S 18-135mm and EF-S 55-250mm lenses allow you to photograph all sorts of subjects due to their huge focal range.

In fact, with the 18-135mm option, you can photograph wide landscapes, intimate portraits, distant subject like wildlife, and just about anything in between.

Better still, even though these lenses are all budget-friendly brand-new, if you can find a used version, you can save even more money.

 lensfinder

 I have bought numerous pre-owned lenses on Lensfinder over the last few months, and it’s been a great experience every time. Same goes for selling old lenses I no longer need!

The beauty of Lensfinder is that it was built by photographers, for photographers, so you don’t have to deal with hunting through dozens of unrelated items like you do on eBay or worry about scams like you do on Craigslist.

Instead, you just enter your search terms, find what you need, buy and pay for it right on Lensfinder, and await your purchase to arrive. You can even communicate with the seller and leave feedback, and with fraud protections in place, you can have peace of mind too.What’s not to like about that?

Learn More:

If You Shoot Landscapes, You Need a Polarizing Filter

If You Shoot Landscapes You Need a Polarizing Filter

 photo by cookelma via iStock

Having lens filters enables you to improve the quality of your photos in-camera, which means less time trying to fix things in post-processing and more time actually out shooting.

For beginner landscape photographers, one of the best filters you can invest in is a polarizing filter.

Polarizers offer a whole host of benefits:

  • They reduce glare off non-metallic objects (like water), which reduces distractions and enhances your ability to create an eye-catching shot.
  • Polarizers boost the contrast in the sky, making the blue color of the atmosphere deeper and more dramatic while enhancing the bright white of the clouds.
  • These filters also reduce atmospheric haze, so distant landscape features appear more clearly in the shot.

In other words, a polarizer is a sort of one-stop shop for improving the quality of your landscape photos.

And while some polarizing filters are well over $100, Kenko Circular Polarizers are super budget-friendly.

Depending on the size of the filter you need, you’ll spend between $15.00 and $50.00 for a high-quality filter.

 kenko 1

 Kenko utilizes precision-polished Asahi Japanese optical glass in these filters, so you’re assured of crystal clear results.

The low-profile slim housing is a benefit too, as it help prevent vignetting, even when used with a wide-angle lens.

 kenko 2

There’s a reason why these filters are the best-selling lens filters in Japan!

For quality and performance, Kenko is tough to beat at this price point, as are the other products reviewed above.

The moral of the story is that you don’t need to spend all your money on expensive gear to get better results. Give these budget-friendly items a try, and you’ll see what I mean!

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

 

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My Ideal Landscape Photography Kit

My Ideal Landscape Photography Kit

photo byMaridav via iStock

Over the years, I’ve tested all kinds of landscape photography gear. I’ve owned all kinds of landscape photography gear too…

But I keep coming back to the same gear as being part of my ideal landscape photography kit. There are tried-and-true items that I’ve found to be what works best for me, and there’s also relatively new items that I’ve only begun using recently that have quickly earned a spot in my kit.

Below, I’ve outlined some of my favorite landscape photography gear in the hopes that it sheds a little light on what gear might work for you as well.

Remember...these are just a few items that I personally use and that work great for me and my workflow. Some might work great for you but others might not. You’ll still need to do some research and experimentation with gear, but this should at least give you a compass for what direction to go!

Table of Contents

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Camera: Nikon Z7

I’ve had the Nikon Z7 for about a year at the time of this writing, so it’s a relatively new addition to my kit. Before it, I had a Nikon D850, which I absolutely loved. In fact, I wrote this article about how it was the best landscape photography camera.

The only problem with the D850 is that it is big and heavy - two qualities you might not want if your focus is on landscape photography.

The Z7, however, is nearly a pound lighter and has a much smaller form factor than its D850 cousin. Those features alone make it a more useful camera for me when I’m out exploring landscapes because it’s easier to carry and easier to handle, too.

And don’t think that because it’s a smaller mirrorless camera that the grip is tiny and that your fingers will be dangling off the bottom…

The Z7 has a nice, chunky grip that feels good in the hand and is comfortable for all-day shooting of beautiful landscapes. 

One of my other favorite features of the Z7 for landscape photography is its live view autofocus.

This system is the best Nikon has ever had - it’s fast, accurate, and honestly rivals the results I get when I manually focus. It’s that good!

It helps that the Z7 has a 3.2-inch LCD that has a 3:2 aspect ratio, so the LCD seems even larger and easier to see.

That’s just a few reasons why the Z7 is such a valued addition to my landscape photography kit. You can get all the details of the Z7’s landscape photography features here

Be sure to check out my real world review of the Z7 in the video above too!

 

 

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Lens: Nikon Nikkor Z 14-30mm f/4 S 

I personally love this lens because it gives me those frame-filling wide-angle views that really envelop the viewer in the scene.

I especially appreciate that Nikon extended the zoom range to 30mm rather than stopping at the more typical 24mm - that extra focal range is nice for framing up slightly narrower images. 

It’s also a tiny lens - roughly the same size as the 24-70mm f/4 S kit lens and it weighs just over a pound. When you need to shed weight so your backpack isn’t full of 50 pounds of gear, having a small, versatile lens like this is a major bonus.

Of course, that weight savings is the result of lots of plastic parts, which are good-quality plastic, but still, that fact will scare some of you away from using this lens in a rough-and-tumble setting. 

I’ve had no issues with the build quality of the lens thus far, so it’s performed like a champ whenever I have pressed it into service - even in extreme temperatures in Death Valley and Norway. 

I like this lens’s autofocus accuracy, which is very quick and virtually silent, too.

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I will say that this lens suffers from a crazy level of distortion. However, Nikon and Adobe alike have built-in lens profiles that corrects this issue. 

But where this lens shines is in the sharpness department…

It’s a little soft at 14mm (as you’d expect), but dialing it back to 16mm improves things greatly. I’ve found it to be crazy sharp throughout its focal range.

And that’s just what you want in a landscape lens - beautiful sharpness, quick and accurate autofocus, and lightweight design.

Learn more about this lens in my Nikon 14-30mm f/4 S landscape review.

 

 

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Tripod: E-Image EK650 Tripod 

ikan ek650 

I often use my ProMediaGear Pro-Sticks 34 Series tripod when I’m out for short jaunts to get landscape photos, but at $900, it’s not exactly cheap… 

So to add a budget-friendly component to this list, I recommend the E-Image EK650 tripod shown above and below. 

It weighs about the same as the ProMediaGear tripod and is close in collapsed size as well. 

But it’s $700 cheaper, which is clearly a significant savings!

ikan ek650 2

This isn’t a cheap tripod from a build quality standpoint, though… 

The aluminum construction makes it durable yet lightweight, and the 11-pound load capacity is more than enough to securely support my Z7 and 14-30mm lens with other goodies attached, if need be.

ikan ek650 3

The leg locking mechanisms make for quick set up and take down, while the mid-level spreader gives you that added degree of stability.

Speaking of stability, this tripod also has big anti-slip rubber feet and removable metal foot spikes for terrain that’s uneven or slippery. 

The included fluid head with fixed pan drag, variable tilt drag, and continuous adjustable tilt drag is a nice bonus too!

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Filter: Kenko Puro Circular Polarizing Filter

kenko puro best landscape photography filter

I’m not sure I can remember how many different filter brands that I’ve tested over the years. 

Like any kind of photography gear, there have been some really good filters along the way. But few have offered the level of performance and the budget-friendly price as the Kenko filters I’ve been using as of late.

Any landscape photographer needs a good circular polarizer, and Kenko’s Puro circular polarizing filter certainly fits the bill.

kenko puro 2

These filters are crafted from high-quality Asahi optical glass and feature 16 layers of multi coating that help repel water and dust while also making the filters extremely easy to clean. 

The slim, low-profile ring is a nice touch as it helps minimize vignetting on the 14-30mm lens. The filter housing also has a black anti-reflective mounting ring that helps reduce reflections and flare from the housing.

It’s touches like that that you don’t often see in budget-friendly filters!

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. Click here to sign up.

I’ve also been using Kenko’s Variable NDX filter, and have been supremely pleased with the results.

Besides, it’s nice carrying around a single variable ND filter rather than an entire ND filter set! 

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Light: Litra Torch LitraPro

I don’t do a ton of light painting, but I’ve found the small-yet-powerful Litra Torch LitraPro to be an ideal companion for light painting landscape scenes.

For starters, this thing is just 2.75 x 2 x 1.2 inches in size and weighs a whopping 6 ounces, so it’s a perfect, lightweight addition to my landscape kit. 

And it puts out an incredible amount of light thanks to its 60 LEDs that are good for 1200 lumens.

 

The light is bi-color, clean and crisp, and you won’t find any flicker here, either. 

It’s adjustable from 3000-6000K so you can dial in just the right color temperature for light painting your landscape subjects. It’s even waterproof for those messy spring and winter shoots in the rain and snow and offers 10 hours of battery life!

Sure, I use this light more in my studio and for portraiture, but, hey, who doesn’t like camera gear that’s super versatile?!

Get more details about this awesome little light in my LitraPro Review.

My Pick for the Best Landscape Photography Bag: Holdfast Sightseer Backpack

best landscape photography backpack

Photo by Brandon Burk 

Of course, you need something to carry all your gear in, and one of my all-time favorite bags for landscape photography is the Holdfast Sightseer Backpack.

There’s several levels of awesomeness that this bag brings to the table…

First, the construction is off-the-charts with an attention to detail you just don’t find in many bags.

The waxed canvas and leather exterior is weather resistant, so rain, snow, and other elements won’t penetrate the bag and soak your gear. The zippers are even waterproof!

Inside, you’ll find a beautiful Aztec flannel lining that cradles your gear in the ultimate softness while also preventing scratches as you put your gear in and take it out.

Photo byBrandon Burk

The organization possibilities with this bag are also worth mentioning. 

As you can see above, the flap unzips from top to bottom, allowing you to open it completely for a look inside. There, you’ll find multiple cubbies for your camera body, lenses, and other accessories.

You can customize the arrangement of these cubbies, too, so depending on your needs now and in the future, this bag can accommodate your gear.

Photo by Brandon Burk 

I also appreciate the little things that Holdfast has integrated into this bag.

It has a breathable mesh back to help keep your back cool as you hike around finding those ultimate landscape shots.

The metal fixtures on the bag are stainless steel - not plastic made to look like stainless steel - so you get the benefit of something highly durable that won’t rust.

Of course, all those leather loops on the back of the bag are prime real estate for adding lens pouches and a cell phone pouch. With the ability to expand the carrying capacity of the bag, you have the makings of a modular system that you can customize to your specific needs.

What’s not to like about that?!

 



We Recommend


Nature Photography Tips for Beginners

nature photography tips for beginnersPhoto by Tim Swaan on Unsplash

When you’re first starting off in your landscape photography journey, it can be overwhelming. Oftentimes, it may feel like the place you live isn’t beautiful enough for you to be one of the truly great landscape photographers.

But, believe it or not, nature photography is much more than living somewhere gorgeous...

Here are some nature photography tips to teach you how to make the most of the nature that’s accessible to you. 

Table of Contents

It’s All About the Camera

photography tips for beginnersPhoto by martin-dm via iStock

I’m not saying you can’t take nature photographs with your iPhone, but I am saying they won’t be as good as they could be with even a lower end, cheap DSLR or mirrorless camera. 

DSLRs for beginner landscape photography allow new photographers to create better quality images and allow you to have complete creative control over your photos in post-production.

That's because even low-end DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have manual controls and the ability to shoot in RAW - manual controls allow you to make decisions about what the camera does (not the camera making those decisions) and RAW format gives you the most data with which to work in post-processing.

Plus, just one of many landscape photography secrets is that you can buy a used DSLR for pennies on the dollar. This type of camera will allow you to capture every waterfall, forest, or prairie in much greater detail than your phone.

But, Don’t Forget About Your Filters, Tripods and Lenses

Once you’re set up with a good DSLR, you can begin to play around with new equipment. A lot of outdoor photography tips for beginners completely forget to mention the essential equipment outside of a camera.

The DSLR you just bought comes with something called a kit lens - it’s basically the bare minimum lens that all camera manufacturers send out in their camera kits. These types of lenses don’t add much value to your DSLR, but they do allow you to begin shooting immediately.

If, however, you have the extra money, you should purchase one phenomenal lens to accompany your shiny new camera. Since you’re interested in landscape photography, you may want to invest in a wide-angle lens like a 24mm prime or perhaps something like a 12-24mm zoom. This enables you to capture vast expanses of space in one photo.

Learn more about what landscape lenses you should consider buying in the video above by Mark Denney.

beginner landscape photographyPhoto by DieterMeyrl via iStock

You’ll also need to invest in a tripod. I like to keep it simple outside of my camera and lenses, especially if you’re just beginning. So, a run-of-the-mill DSLR tripod will cost you around $20 on Amazon. 

Now, a cheap tripod is like a cheap lens in that it's great to learn with when you're just starting out. But as your skills improve, a better tripod will be in order.

Tripods allow you to take long exposure shots of landscapes, sure, but they also allow you to steady your shot enough to create extremely sharp details. These details will inevitably be blown up when you get home and get them onto your computer and nothing is more frustrating than figuring out your whole day of shooting was a waste because of your shaky hand.

Nature photography is one of the only types of photography where, in many cases, you can have as much time as you need to set up a shot, so use that time wisely and bring a tripod with you.

outdoor photography tipsPhoto by Eloi_Omella via iStock

Finally, purchase a variable ND filter. A variable ND filter screws onto the end of your lens, just like a circular polarizer, and it controls how much light is getting into your camera.

By diminishing the amount of light entering the camera, a variable ND filter allows you to slow down the shutter speed and capture images like the one above, in which the water is gorgeously blurred.

Plus, when you invest in a variable ND filter you’re getting a better deal than if you bought a fixed ND filter.

outdoor photography tips for beginners 1

outdoor photography tips for beginners 2

Where fixed ND filters each only allow so much light into your camera, a variable ND filter like Kenko’s NDX variable ND filter allow you to twist the filter to get the perfect degree of light. In that regard, a variable ND filter is like having a whole ND filter kit in your camera bag without the bulk and expense!

As you can see above, the same filter produces widely varying degrees of filtering power.

If you're completely unfamiliar with variable ND filters, check out this article. In it, I expound on why filters like Kenko's NDX variable ND filter are so valuable for nature photography.

 

Editor's Tip: Get Kenko’s latest updates and access to promos for discounted gear. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP.

 

Nature Photography Tips Are Useless If You’re Shooting JPEG

nature photography tipsPhoto by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: stop shooting JPEG images. If you’ve never read any outdoor photography tips, then you might use the JPEG setting on your DSLR because it’s what many cameras default to in the beginning. 

But, you should only be shooting RAW images and saving them as JPEGs after post-production.

Why? Because RAW images preserve way more information than JPEGs. JPEGs are compressed versions of your original photo, while RAW images are the full image with virtually all the detail captured by the camera's sensor. 

If you’re hoping on editing your photos at all to correct white balance or enhance color, shoot in RAW!

Learn More:

Buy a Remote

remote

Okay, I know I’ve already told you to buy a lot of expensive equipment. But this next item is super cheap.

Remotes can be found for virtually nothing - we’re talking $8 for a basic one on Amazon,and they also aid in long exposure shots.

When you’re trying to take a photo, you always move your camera at least a little bit, even when you very gently press the shutter button to begin the exposure. Shutter releases allow you to take a photo without touching your camera so you don’t risk a blurred image. 

Plus, they’re a lot of fun to play around with, especially when trying to take selfies that don’t totally suck. One of my photographer friends lets her toddler control the shutter release while they’re taking family photos and finds it’s a great way to get candid shots.

Keep Your Manual Exposure 101 Tips in Mind

manual exposure 1Photo by Alex Chernenko on Unsplash

When you're just learning the ropes, shooting in full auto mode is fine.

But as you learn and grow as a photographer, do not shoot in automatic. You’ll never learn everything your new camera can do and all of the wonderful ways it can capture the world around you if you don’t learn about it.

Shutter speed, like I talked about before, is just how fast the shutter opens and closes. Obviously the longer the shutter speed, the more light that enters the camera and the shorter the shutter speed, the less light enters the camera. Therefore, shutter speed controls the duration of light as well as how the camera captures movement - is that movement blurred (like below) or frozen?

manual exposure 2Photo by DieterMeyrl via iStock

The ISO level tells you how sensitive your camera is to light in your current surroundings. The higher the ISO value, the more sensitive the camera becomes to light. ISO is also responsible for how much digital noise is in the image. The higher the ISO, the more digital noise (which looks like graininess) there will be in the shot.

The aperture controls the amount of light that reaches your camera. Aperture is measured in f-stops, where larger numbers (i.e., f/22) represent a very small aperture opening and smaller numbers (i.e., f/1.4) represent a very large aperture opening. The smaller the aperture opening, the greater the depth of field, or how much of the scene is in focus.

You can choose where you want each of these levels in order to capture the perfect photo when you shoot in manual mode.

Though manual mode might sound scary, it truly isn't! It just takes time and practice to learn the ropes and feel comfortable using it.

Never Stop Exploring

I think this advice is as good for a novice landscape photographer as it is for a pro. The chances of burnout in photography are high, particularly with landscape photography because it is so expensive to travel and explore new places.

When I say never stop exploring, I don’t mean you need to constantly be on the road, or in a new country, but I do mean you need to adopt a childlike wonder. You need to ask yourself what you’re not seeing in your own backyard. You need to get out of your comfort zone because this is where the most growth is going to happen to you.

Never stop trying to get the best shot of your life because chances are you haven’t yet captured it!

Get inspired to explore more in the video above by Thomas Heaton.

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Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Lake Tahoe Area

tahoe photography guidePhoto by Steven-Baranek via iStock

Last week, we published the first in a series of five Nevada photography and travel guides.

Where that one featured photography hot spots in the Vegas area, this one focuses on much more natural terrain - Lake Tahoe.

The Tahoe area of Nevada is unparalleled in its beauty, with opportunities for photographing the lake itself, as well as its beaches, interesting rock formations, and gorgeous sunsets, just to name a few.

Below, we've outlined our top three picks for photography spots in Tahoe, and have also provided details about where to stay, where to eat, points of interest, and so forth.

What to Photograph in Tahoe - Bonsai Rock

what to photograph in tahoePhoto by Spencer Jones via iStock

Bonsai RockBonsai Rock is a giant boulder just off the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe that has a few small trees growing on it.

While it's an interesting sight on its own, it really takes on an extra level of beauty during sunset, when the sun dips behind the Sierra Nevadas to the west.

As you can see in the photo above, the fiery colors of the sunset bring interest to the sky and to the calm waters of the lake, which helps brighten up the foreground as well.

The little cove in which Bonsai Rock resides is a popular spot for photographers, so get there early to get a premium spot.

emerald bay state park photosPhoto by Jesse Gardner on Unsplash

Planning Your Lake Tahoe Trip

  • Where to Stay:The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is in a great location on the southern tip of Lake Tahoe, offers 4-Star service, plentiful opportunities for gambling, lake views, and poolside cabanas. Prices are as low as $109/night.
  • Where to Eat: Cafe Fiore is just across the state line in California on the southern shore of the lake. It's a tiny restaurant with tons of ambiance and rave reviews for their authentic Italian cuisine.
  • Must-See Attractions: Emerald Bay State Park is a must-see spot across the border in California. The bay itself is breathtaking, but add in the fact that the only island in Lake Tahoe is in the bay and that there's a gorgeous, historic mansion on the bay as well, and you have a recipe for tons of gorgeous photographs. Sunrise is the ideal time to visit. Don't miss out on Eagle Falls, either.
  • Check the weather in Lake Tahoe right now.

Sand Harbor is Prime Photo Territory

lake tahoe photography guidePhoto by MariuszBlach via iStock

One of the most picturesque beaches in Lake Tahoe is found in Sand Harbor along the northeastern shore of the lake.

As the name indicates, Sand Harbor is a quiet, calm inlet with beautiful sandy beaches that make it an ideal place to take photos (and swim, too!).

During the summer, the area is virtually overrun with tourists during the day. But once the sun starts to go down, most of the crowds disappear, leaving you and other photographers alone to find the perfect spot for a shot of the harbor at sunset.

Note that there is a $10 entrance fee to Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park and that Sand Harbor closes one hour after sunset.

lake tahoe sunset with granite boulders picture id484346361Photo by NeilLockhart via iStock

Planning Your Sand Harbor Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe is a 4-Star hotel just north of Sand Harbor and offers rooms starting at $156/night. The hotel's private beach is a must-see, and for some fun and relaxation, you can enjoy the on-site casino or the spa.
  • Where to Eat: Lone Eagle Grille is a fine-dining experience with an extensive menu of American cuisine and an impressive wine list as well.
  • Must-See Attractions: The large granite boulders that litter the landscape in and around Sand Harbor are worth a few clicks of your shutter button. Their shape, color, and texture add wonderful visual interest to photos of the harbor. Check out all the recreational opportunities in the Sand Harbor as well, including boating, fishing, swimming, and hiking.
  • Check the weather at Sand Harbor right now.

Find 360-Degree Views of Lake Tahoe From Cave Rock

view from cave rock picture id497798985Photo by TrevorFairbank via iStock 

To get a little more perspective on Lake Tahoe, Cave Rock should be on your list of top spots to photograph in Tahoe.

Just a short climb up the rocks, you'll find yourself with a breathtaking view of the lake from above.

Just park on the street and follow the path up the rock. You'll likely have fellow photographers at the top, so just be patient to get a prime spot to set up.

Wide-angle shots from this vantage point can be breathtaking, but don't discount the value of bringing a telephoto zoom with you to get more detailed and intimate shots of the surrounding area.

The area is open sunrise to sunset, and a $10 fee is required to enter (the fee gets you into all areas within Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park).

dog day afternoon picture id664081260Photo by Sharon Lynn via iStock

Planning Your Cave Rock Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is one of the nearest hotels to Cave Rock, but if you prefer something a little different, Harrah's Lake Tahoe offers a similar level of service and amenities for a smaller price tag.
  • Where to Eat: For a quick bite to eat, Fatburger at Harrah's is a great option.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Cave Rock area is rife with recreational opportunities, including boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, and beaches.
  • Check the weather at Cave Rock right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Las Vegas Area

nevada photography and travel guide

If you're traveling to the Silver State with your camera in tow, don't leave before consulting this Nevada Photography and Travel Guide.

Though it would be virtually impossible to offer tips and hints for the all the best places to photograph in Nevada, we've got three top photography hot-spots you need to visit outlined below.

Additionally, we've taken the liberty of helping you with your planning by recommending places to stay, places to eat, and points of interest along the way.

All told, this guide gives you insights into beautiful photography spots from Las Vegas to Red Rock Canyon to Hoover Dam.

Let's get started!

What to Photograph in Nevada - The Strip

las vegas strip at night high vantage picture id502673274

Though the glitz and glam of Las Vegas' Strip isn't for everyone, it's undeniable that there is a lot to photograph along the 4.2 miles of tarmac that runs through the heart of the city.

From bright neon lights to incredible architecture to dancing water features, there's no lack of subject matter for creating eye-catching photos.

Street photography opportunities abound as well, with millions of people from all corners of the globe trekking to Vegas each year to try their hand at lady luck.

Be sure to visit the Fremont Street Experience for eye-popping photos of neon lights, check out the outdoor sculptures at the Smith Center for opportunities for portraits set against interesting backdrops, and visit Eldorado Canyon for a little landscape photography and ghost town experience as well.

nevada photography guide

Planning Your Las Vegas Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Palazzo at the Venetian Resort is in a great location on The Strip, offers 5-Star service, and has excellent reviews from guests. Prices are as low as $110/night.
  • Where to Eat: Top of the World has an excellent old-school Vegas menu, and with a location atop the Stratosphere tower, it also has the best views of the city.
  • Must-See Attractions: For a wild ride, try the X-Scream Roller Coaster at the top of the Stratosphere tower.
  • Check the weather in Las Vegas right now.

Red Rock Canyon is a Photographer's Dream

sunset in red rock canyon picture id477203340

Just a few miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a must-see location for photographers.

With nearly 200,000 acres of wilderness within the Mojave Desert to explore, you have plenty of room to roam and subjects on which to train your camera.

The beautiful vistas, red rocks, and different flora and fauna will challenge your photography eye and inspire your creativity.

Note that taking photos for casual or personal use is fine and does not require a permit. However, if you're a professional photographer or videographer, you'll need to get a permit before conducting any work. There is a $15 per vehicle charge to enter the area.

road at red rock canyon picture id494560238

Planning Your Red Rock Canyon Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: Since the canyon is so close to Las Vegas, you don't need different accommodations. However, if you'd rather be away from The Strip, the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa is a top choice.
  • Where to Eat: Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant is just south of the park and offers American food in a country-western style dining hall.
  • Must-See Attractions: The 13-mile scenic drive through the park is a must, with pull-outs and trails along the way for you to get out and explore the area with your camera. 
  • Check the weather at Red Rock Canyon right now.

Photograph Nevada History at Hoover Dam

hoover dam picture id174985229

It's not that Hoover Dam is particularly beautiful or anything, but its sheer size and the story behind its construction makes it a top spot to photograph in Nevada.

Constructed between 1931 and 1936, the dam is nearly 730-feet high and cost $41 million to build (in 1931 money). Today, it would cost nearly $700 million to construct.

When photographing the dam, walk across the Memorial Bridge Walkway on Highway 111 for the best view of the dam. Another prime vantage point to consider is from the Arizona side just east of the spillway, which affords views of the back of the dam and the intake towers, which light up beautifully at night.

hoover dam lit up for the night during sunset picture id178515285

Planning Your Hoover Dam Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: Again, Hoover Dam isn't all that far from Las Vegas, so you could stay in the same hotel on The Strip and make a day trip out of visiting the Dam. Another option is the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort, which offers 4-star service and a spa.
  • Where to Eat: If you like BBQ, it's tough to beat Fox Smokehouse BBQ in Boulder City.
  • Must-See Attractions: The official tour of Hoover Dam is well worth your time.
  • Check the weather at Hoover Dam right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!



We Recommend


Nevada Photography and Travel Guide - Northeastern Nevada

northeast nevada travel guidePhoto by Elizabeth M. Ruggiero via iStock

Northeastern Nevada presents photographers with a wide range of subject matter.

From desolate deserts to bustling cities to national parks to ghost towns, it's an interesting and lonely place.

Best known for Highway 50, the loneliest highway in the world, as well as Elko, the Ruby Mountains, and Great Basin National Park, northeastern Nevada is certainly a place worth exploring and getting lost amongst the breathtaking landscapes.

This travel and photography guide for northeastern Nevada offers you some insights into what to see and photograph, where to stay, and what to eat.

What to Photograph in Northeastern Nevada - Highway 50

nevada photography guidePhoto by Boogich via iStock

Though Highway 50 stretches across the entire United States - from West Sacramento, California to Ocean City, Maryland - its best-known stretch is perhaps that in Nevada.

A long, ribbon of tarmac, Highway 50 takes you through some of the most desolate areas in the Continental United States. There are many stretches in which there are few - if any - signs of civilization.

But the highway winds its way through some of Nevada's most iconic locations - Lake Tahoe and Carson City, alpine forests, ghost towns, desert valleys, and Great Basin National Park as well.

nevada high desert picture id178568504Photo by Gunter_Nezhoda via iStock

Planning Your Highway 50 Trip

  • Where to Stay: The La Quinta Inn & Suites Ely is clean and affordable. And since Ely is the last town for 162 miles as you travel west on Highway 50, it's really the only place to stay!
  • Where to Eat: If you're looking for good down-to-earth food and a large selection of drinks, give Racks Bar & Grill in Ely a try.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Nevada Northern Railway Museum is a must-see for train enthusiasts. The night sky-themed train ride is highly recommended.
  • Check the weather in Ely right now.

The Ruby Mountains are a Photographer's Paradise

ruby mountains island lake vista picture id91186734Photo by Joesboy via iStock 

Tucked in northeastern Nevada about 21 miles southeast of Elko, the Ruby Mountains are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the state.

Known for their abundances of wildlife, the Rubies offer spectacular views of mountains, lakes, valleys, and streams as well.

You can hike the Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail that takes you along the spine of the range or visit the Ruby National Wildlife Refuge to scope out migratory birds. The Ruby Mountains Wilderness is a must-see as well, with over 90,000 acres of protected landscapes to delight your eye and serve as subject matter for your photos. 

back country solitude picture id683329830Photo by Justin R. Ray via iStock

Planning Your Ruby Mountains Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Best Western Elko Inn has excellent reviews and is centrally located on the eastern edge of Elko, giving you easy access to local attractions and restaurants.
  • Where to Eat: The Star Hotel gets rave reviews for its authentic Basque menu.
  • Must-See Attractions: The tiny hamlet of Lamoille, located at the base of the Rubies, is nestled along a creek amongst mature trees and is home to a postcard-worthy church - Little Church of the Crossroads - that's a must-see.
  • Check the weather at the Ruby Mountains right now.

Get Lost With Your Camera in Great Basin National Park

sunrise on wheeler peak nevadas great basin national park horizontal picture id155100218Photo by milehightraveler via iStock

Though Great Basin National Park might not have the name recognition of Yellowstone or Yosemite, it certainly doesn't short you on opportunities to take breathtaking landscape photos.

From the majestic Wheeler Peak to the mysterious Lehman Caves, there are landforms aplenty that will astonish you.

This area is also home to ancient Bristlecone pines that make ideal subjects for your photos.

A can't-miss photo op in this region is night photography, thanks to crystal clear skies that reveal a blanket of stars over the basin on most nights throughout the year.

bristlecone pine black white picture id969408036Photo by johnnya123 via iStock

Planning Your Great Basin National Park Photography Trip

  • Where to Stay: The Stargazer Inn has excellent reviews and is one of the closest motels to the park.
  • Where to EatKerouac's Restaurant at the Stargazer Inn offers fresh takes on American classics and is open seasonally, April-October.
  • Must-See Attractions: The Lehman Caves are a spectacular sight that can't be missed when in Great Basin National Park. Tours run daily throughout the year and are led by park rangers that explain the history and geology of the caves. Make reservations early though, as the tours often sell out.
  • Check the weather at Great Basin National right now.

This Nevada Photography and Travel Guide is Sponsored By:

Click Props Backdrops

click props

Based in Las Vegas, Click Props Backdrops offers a wide selection of premium photography backdrops and floors.

Kat Armendariz of hushXpose owns the U.S. district for Click Props along with her husband Ephraim.

Their backdrops are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl yet are lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and easy to hang with either reinforced grommets along the top or by using a magnetic backdrop support system.

If you need gorgeous, easy-to-use backdrops, this is the place to find them!

Click here to learn more about Click Props Backdrops

SIRUI Tripods

SIRUI has built a solid reputation over the years for crafting precise, easy-to-use, feature-packed tripods for photographers of all types and experience levels.

No matter if you need a tripod for studio photography work, landscape photography, on-location portraits, travel photography, or something in between, SIRUI's extensive line of products will help you get the shots you need. Their tripods even come with a six-year warranty.

There's a reason why SIRUI is the choice of so many photographers - their tripods represent exceptional quality and value.

Learn more about SIRUI tripods

Acratech

acratech

From ball heads to quick-release clamps, video heads to camera and lens plates, Acratech crafts some of the highest-quality photography gear on the market today.

Acratech's family-run business is based in Pomona, California, where they use the finest materials and the highest-quality workmanship to manufacture their products.

If it's precision, durability, and affordability you're after, Acratech is it!

Learn more about Acratech

Columbia Sportswear

columbia

Whether you're exploring the desert southwest in the summer, the far reaches of Scandinavia in the winter, or points between, Columbia Sportswear has the gear you need to be comfortable on your photography adventures.

You can get outfitted from head to toe for any season with high-quality products from Columbia that show their dedication to providing adventurers of all types with the gear they need.

There's a reason why Columbia has been at it for 80 years - their gear is dependable, comfortable, and affordable too!

Learn more about Columbia

Kenko Filters

kenko

Kenko filters are precision-crafted with high-quality materials to give you the best photographic results.

Kenko offers a wide line of filters that includes circular polarizers, neutral density filters, and variable neutral density filters as well.

Their combination of quality and price makes Kenko filters a top choice for photographers of all kinds!

Learn more about Kenko filters like the Nyumon Circular Polarizing Filter shown above

Nomatic Luggage

nomatic carry on pro

For a fun weekend away in Nevada, you need a mid-sized bag that will accommodate all your clothes and other personal items while keeping them neatly organized. For that task, the Nomatic Carry-On Pro is an ideal choice.

With capacity for up to 28 liters of stuff, this roller bag is well-sized for a weekend trip. The magnetic compression straps keep your clothes right where you want them while the tech compartment makes for easy organization of your electronics. The removable tech compartment means you can grab your laptop when you need to do a little work without unpacking the entire bag.

Made of durable polycarbonate, this bag can stand up to the rough-and-tumble journeys you take in Nevada!