Although summer heat is quickly fading away into autumn, that doesn’t mean we’re all retreating to the studio. With an intensified and expanded pallet of colors, autumn has the potential to produce even better outdoor photos as long as you’re willing to pull over a sweater and put the flip-flops away for another year.
Here’s some of our recommendations if you’re going to be out there braving the elements to get the shot.
You may already have a photo backpack but most of them are designed for you to lug your gear between locations or maybe on a walk around the city. Sure, they might do just fine on a nature hike as well but they’re certainly not designed with that in mind. Most aren’t weather-resistant, fitted for outdoor activity or designed with anything else but camera equipment in mind. If you’re going to spending a long time outside, you may want some room in your bag for a jacket and some snacks.
Lowepro’s Photo Sport BP AW 200 II is made for the rugged outdoors. The outer shell is weather-resistant while there’s a AW cover if the weather goes full Vancouver. The shape is also important as it’s long, narrow and fitted to the curve of your back for not only added comfort when moving around but you’ll be less likely to bump into things around you. There’s also something called UltraCinch, which tightens up the compartment your camera is in so it doesn’t rattle around uncomfortably when you’re on the go.
There’s ample storage space for a day’s worth of supplies and a 2-liter hydration pack but the camera compartment only fits a small amount of gear: one body, two lenses and a few miscellaneous accessories. But that’s fine since you want to pack light if you’re going to be on your feet in the mountains all day. There’s no room for your laptop so it would be a stretch to use the Photo Sport as an every day bag but it was designed for the trail rather than a boardroom.
If you do need a little more room, the Photo Sport BP AW 300 II is the slightly larger version of the 200 II.
No other piece of equipment is more of a “take it with me or leave it” dilemma than the tripod. It’s an extremely useful piece of equipment but also usually heavy and awkward to carry. Manfrotto’s BeFree is a compact tripod so it won’t support a super heavy camera and it’s maximum extended height is 144cm but it also weighs just slightly more than 3 pounds and folds down to a tiny 40cm, which your back will thank you for later. If you want to get even lighter, the carbon fiber version of the BeFree sheds a little more than half a pound of extra weight.
Just about every time, the sky will be brighter than whatever landscape features are on the bottom half of the frame. This results in either bright blown out skies when you meter for the ground or dark shadows below when you meter for the sky. Of course, you could rely on HDR but getting it right in camera always ends up being less work.
Cokin’s Z-Pro ND Grad Kit has everything you need to get started: the filter holder and three ND filters. You’ll also need an appropriately sized adapter ring, such as this one for 77mm filter threads, to fit the holder to the front of your lens.
If you’re going to be outside a lot, you might need to charge up your batteries. Until we figure out a way to put outlets in trees, a solar panel is the best way to juice up your camera off the grid.
Enerplex’s Kickr II+ is lightweight, weather-resistant, and easy to use. Just hang it off your backpack while you’re walking around and it will charge anything that plugs into its USB port.
There are plenty of weather-sealed options for the outdoor photographer in terms of cameras and lenses. However, if you already have a camera kit you like that is unfortunately not going to hold up well against Vancouver’s rainstorms, you can protect your gear with a simple rain cover. This one from JJC is a welcome addition to any kit that you can stuff into any nook or cranny for emergencies. Better than calling off a day of shooting on account of the weather.