Landscape photography can involve a lot of different gear. Whether it’s camera bodies, lenses, filters, tripods, cable releases, protective gear, or something else, it seems like there is always something new to have on your wishlist.
While having quality gear is nice (see our list of recommended gear), having the right clothing is also important. Clothing and accessories are important for keeping you comfortable, safe and protected from the elements, and for allowing you to go places that you might not be able to go if you weren’t properly equipped. In this article we’ll take a look at ten items that you should consider for your own landscape and nature photography needs.
Photo by David Marcu
Landscape photography often involves a lot of hiking, and taking care of your feet is extremely important. A comfortable pair of hiking boots is a must-have if you’ll be spending a lot of time hiking to the best spots for photos. If you’ll be out in the winter or at night when the temperature drops, a good pair of boots can also help to keep your feet warm and dry.
There are a few different factors to consider when deciding which type of hiking boots are right for you, and REI has a nice guide that will help to explain your options and the things that you should consider.
You don’t need to spend much time photographing nature or wildlife before you’ll come across a situation where it would be extremely helpful to have waders. Much landscape photography involves water, and there will certainly be times when it would be helpful to be able to wade in the water, even when it is cold. Waders can also come in handy in mud and other conditions where you want or need to protect your clothes.
Neoprene waders are generally the best option, because it’s easier to move in neoprene as compared to rubber. You can get chest waders that will really give you a lot of protection, or the ones that will just cover your legs.
While not the first thing you would think of being essential, a good, comfortable pair of socks is important. This is especially important if you are doing a lot of hiking or out in cold weather. There are a lot of different hiking socks that are available.
Quality socks will keep your feet warm in cold weather, but can also be worn comfortably in warm weather. I personally have been very happy with People Socks, but there are plenty of other good brands as well.
There will undoubtedly be times when you will be out in the rain, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Photographing in bad weather can be challenging, but often it will lead to unique photos. Having a good rain coat/jacket will be important for keeping you dry and warm.
There are a few different types of rain jackets. Many, like this one from Columbia, are lightweight shells. This will be useful in most weather, but in cold weather you will need something thicker and warmer.
Any time you will be out in cold weather for extended periods of time it is important to keep your hands warm. This is true for landscape and nature photographers in winter, but it can also be challenging to find gloves that will keep your hands warm and still allow you to use your hands and fingers as needed. Photography gloves that allow access for your thumb and index finger are a good option. Vallerret recently ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for winter sports gloves made with photography in mind.
Much landscape photography is done around the time of sunrise and sunset. That often requires hiking before sunrise or after sunset to reach your destination, or to return to your vehicle. A flashlight is a must-have, but a head lamp can prove to be an even better option. With a head lamp you can keep your hands free.
Shirts for Layering
Cotton t-shirts are usually not ideal because if you are hiking and sweating the cotton shirt will get, and stay, soaked. Performance tees that are made of some sort of moisture-wicking material are better. These types of shirts are available in both short sleeve and long sleeve.
There are a lot of different brands to choose from. Champion makes affordable shirts that are pretty good quality.
If you’re going to be outside in the elements and exposed to potentially harsh weather it is best to have pants that are made for this. Jeans are not ideal. There are a lot of brands that make hiking pants. Much like rain jackets, different weights and thickness are available. Lightweight pants are great for warmer weather but you will need something thicker (or thermals underneath) in cold weather.
Some hiking pants are also convertible, meaning you can unzip or unsnap them and they’ll become shorts. I have the most experience with Columbia’s hiking pants, and I have been pleased with them
Hats can be important for protecting you from the elements. If you’re out in the anywhere in the summer, or in a very hot climate like a desert, a hat for shade is very important. In the winter, of course, you’ll want a hat to keep your head warm and dry.
Sometimes a photographer’s vest can be as helpful as a bag or packpack for carrying your gear. Bags an backpacks are better for large lenses and other big items, but vests are great for carrying filters and other small accessories. You may find that a vest is a nice supplement to your bag/backpack, or that it can carry everything you need.