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Landscape/waterfall questions

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by waday, Jan 10, 2018.

  1. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Hi all,

    I am back to pick your collective big brains again with a few questions.

    I am taking a workshop on winter waterfalls. As more of a street person, I am not intimately familiar with landscapes. I have a tripod, and will be picking up tripod spikes.

    I am planning on purchasing a couple of ND filters. I thought about variable, but I've heard that their quality can be kinda wonky. I thought about getting a couple solid filters, likely a 3 stop and 6 stop.

    Also, for filters, I was planning on buying 77mm filters then using a step-up ring so that I could use the filters with all my lenses.

    Question 1: what should I look for with ND filters? Are variable filters ok, or should I avoid? Any brands in particular? Are 3 and 6 stop ok, do I need more, less? I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum (as always). Any issues (aside from it being annoying, ugh) with buying a larger filter and using a step-up ring?

    I'm not planning on renting any equipment, and since we'll be hiking several miles through snow with lots of clothes on, I'd like to only take the essential lenses. I have the following, all Oly:

    • 12-40 f/2.8
    • 14-150 f/variable
    • 30 f/3.5 macro
    • 17 f/1.8
    • 45 f/1.8
    • 75 f/1.8
    Question 2: which lenses would be acceptable for landscapes? I'm assuming the 12-40 would be the best bet? Any specific reason to take any others? I was thinking of taking the 17 or 45, as well?

    We'll be out in the cold all day walking around. I have three batteries.

    Question 3: How is battery life in constant cold weather? Should I take any precautions, like use a hand warmer to keep the batteries warm and/or in my coat close to my body? Will three batteries be enough?

    Any other general advice to questions that I'm not asking because I don't know enough to ask them?

    Very much appreciate any advice you can provide. Thank you!
     
  2. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Mu-43 Veteran

    432
    Dec 16, 2011
    Hayward, WI
    William B. Lewis
    1) I find that between ISO, aperture & shutter speed I can avoid the need for ND filters. Your mileage may vary but it's not as horrid a situation as shooting Velvia was.

    2) I'm unusual, I don't like wide angle landscapes. I find normal views (17 ~ 25 mm on m4/3) far more interesting, especially in a square format. Primes are still better to me as well though when I feel the need to isolate a feature (rock & cloud or tree or whathaveyou) a longer reach can be useful. I'll break out my my 40-150 then but try to only use it at the long end. With your lenses, I'd suggest that the 17 & 30 would be the most useful with the 75 as an alternative to look at details of the falls.

    3) Three batteries can be enough. I'd keep the two spares either in a warm vehicle or against my body. A coat big enough for you and camera on a neck strap is a good thing too, especially if there is any wind. Perhaps, if you don't already have one, invest in a charger you can plug into your vehicle?

    Other thoughts: Don't be afraid to use your two foot zoom with your primes. A tripod can be handy but don't be afraid to not use it either. Look to see what the others are looking at and walk somewhere else. Remember this is winter - look for something interesting other than falling water.



    Hope this helps. My ideas of landscape can be seen in my post in the 5 best of 2017 thread here: Five of Your Favorite Photos of 2017 Perhaps that will help you see what I am suggesting.

    Good luck & good light!
     
  3. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Not actually owning one but did look into it a bit, with variable ND filters they seem to be rather pricey to begin with and the ones that are considered the good ones are REALLY expensive. Unless you think you will be using ND filters a LOT over the next year, you can probably get along just fine with a couple of different non-variable ND filters which two or three of will probably cost less than a single quality variable ND filter.


    77mm? From your lens list, are any of those that big? I was going by memory but I don't recall any of them being that large. Since cost of filters is often tied to size of the filter, I would only by for the largest diameter lens you have unless you know there is a larger diameter lens you are planning on buying in the near future. Probably the 12-4o Pro is the largest at 62mm?


    Hand warmer is a good idea AND keep them inside your jacket. Also keep in mind that when a battery in the cold shows dead in the camera, after you swap it out and it sits back in your pocket with the hand warmer, it may be good to go again once it warms up. So you may be able to cycle through your three batteries a couple or three times before they are really depleted vs. just in cold shock.
     
  4. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    But how will this solve my GAS problem? :p 

    Thank you, very informational. :)  I typically agree; I tend to shoot much further than wide angles.

    Unfortunately, we will not have access to vehicles until we finish. Total hike is around 3.5 miles in some deep woods, and we're ending up on the other side. We're doing an all downhill hike to avoid hiking uphill in ice conditions. Assuming this warm-up that we're having now will not impact the ice, we should be using crampons for a good portion of it, so it'll be interesting.

    Hrm. Well, my kit isn't THAT big, so maybe I'll take all of them, heh heh. I will have my large hiking backpack, so I should have enough space.

    Very good point. Sometimes I feel as if my attention span is quite small, so this may work to my advantage here. :D 

    Good idea. Regarding the 77mm, you are absolutely correct that none of the lenses are that big. I have grand plans that will never come to fruition, haha. Maybe I'll stick with the diameter of the 40-150, because I do see myself getting that at some point.

    Thank you! :) 
     
  5. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Veteran

    465
    Jun 15, 2016
    since you are working with a tripod, and shooting landscapes, 12-40mm + vario nd filter would be the best fit for you. don´t buy expensive ones, as long as you process your images in post, minor colour shifts, shouldn´t be big of a problem. there are also nd1000 filters which are worth 10 stops of light if you want some wide open long exposure background shots.
    try polarizer on water and sky. rotate it in 90 degree to a light source, and you´ll be quite happy.
    try shooting IR. there are also cheap 650-800+nm filters - they all work with in camera b&w, or you might even want to try some coloured landscapes, but you have to know how properly set wb in camera.

    avoid shooting footprints and yellow snow in the untouched nature%)
     
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  6. AussiePhil

    AussiePhil Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 1, 2014
    Canberra, ACT, Aust
    Phil
    Does the workshop suggest any lenses? also just how close or far will you be from the waterfalls? How broad are the landscape vistas? all should be answerable from the workshop organisers...... these answers will guide you lenses.

    Based on your desire to get a 40-150 then buy them in 72mm.
    Frankly your in snow/ice... if the sun is shining and you want to do or achieve any water blurring you WILL need ND filters, no combination of ISO,Shutter,Aperture will work without ND. a 64x and 1000x will make a good set to carry.
    I own both VarND and 64x/1000x filters and for landscape/waterfall only the fixed ones get used... the variable is invaluable when you want to dial in a specific shutter and aperture for doing time lapse or video work but not in my opinion normal photo stuff.

    It's cold, likely damp, do you really want to be changing lenses all the time if you take the primes.... take and use the 12-40 as it covers most of everything else except the 75 and saves you changing lenses in the conditions.

    I didn't see you mention a tripod but for slow shutter work it would be good to take a smaller portable one, if your working purely hand held then as far as ND filters go the 64x may be about as dark as you can go, though i can handhold a 1000x on the em1.2 in bright sunshine.

    Cheers
     
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  7. hias

    hias Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Dec 6, 2016
    Bavaria
    Hias
    I shoot waterfalls and streams pretty often, preferably in winter when it's freezing.
    I'd probably take the 12-40, and the 75mm (I don't have that Lens but instead use the 60mm macro regularily) as a tele option.
    There's also the 40-150pro always with me, but haven't used that one for waterfalls in the past.
    The 17mm is also really nice for landscapes, but most of the time changing lenses isn't possible because of spray from the falls (depends on the waterfalls of course), so I think the 12-40 is your best bet, especially because it's WR with the e-m5's or 1's. And you won't need that f1.8.

    Filters are a good idea, at least when you are out there you will WANT them.
    I only have filters for the 12-40, and figured that's usually enough for my needs.
    I use Formatt-Hitech Firecrest ND's. Probably a little expensive when you don't plan to use it more often.
    3-Stop, just need that one early in the morning, when it's not that bright already, to get that 1 or 2 second exposure.
    6-Stop and 10-Stop during the day.
    You probably want a polarizer to remove reflections from water and for other stuff, B+W slim for example, expensive, but really good.
    Hoya I think is a good, cheaper option.

    3 batteries should be fine, keep the spare ones on the inside of your jacket, close to your body.
    If the first one runs out of energy put it also in your jacket, when it warms up, it will probably work again.

    Besides that, always look for something in the foreground, rocks, boulders, etc., leading lines to the fall, something to frame the waterfall, trees, rocks, the usual stuff :) 
    I always got good results when shooting close to the ground.
    Probably look into focus stacking. It helps when you want the picture sharp at all levels
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
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  8. Jeffcs

    Jeffcs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    541
    Jan 20, 2017
    Toms River NJ
    Jeffrey Swank
    First DO NOT purchase a variable ND with film they are great but with digital cameras you'll wind up with a dreaded X pattern due to the way variable ND filters work essentially it is 2 polarizing filters DO get 2-3 straight ND filters

    Good tripod essential and you don't really need spikes I havens used them in years

    I'm a wide to UW lens user for landscape so I wouldn't carry longer lenses

    Keep batteries warm

    Enjoy
     
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  9. Jeffcs

    Jeffcs Mu-43 Top Veteran

    541
    Jan 20, 2017
    Toms River NJ
    Jeffrey Swank
    BTW @waday@waday where are you going Poconos?
     
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  10. hias

    hias Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Dec 6, 2016
    Bavaria
    Hias
    Oh, I said spray from waterfalls... If that's the case here, take some clean clothes to clean/dry the front of your lens... I always forget this and have to use a teenietiny microfiber cloth or my shirt to remove waterdrops.
     
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  11. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    I've debated the 10 stop filter, but I can't see myself using it too much. I say that now, haha. Good tips! Especially the avoiding footprints, which is something that I would not have thought of at the time.

    The workshop does not provide any details on lenses. Ugh. I appreciate your comments, as it's true, I don't want to change lenses with potential waterfall spray and whatnot. Definitely wasn't thinking of waterfall spray (as also mentioned by @hias@hias), so I'm going to make sure I pack a couple of cloths to clean lens/filter. I am taking a small, portable tripod. I don't trust myself handholding the camera.

    Hmm. I wasn't really thinking about weather resistance, but now I am. Thinking I should probably stick to my 12-40. I'll take the 75 just in case, but it probably won't see any action.

    Yes, maybe I'll add a polarizer, as well. I've been needing to pick up one.

    Good tips on having a good foregound and leading lines to the falls.

    Thank you! After seeing your comment, I looked up the x-pattern. Ugh. I wasn't planning on tripod spikes, but they are recommended in the gear list. If I can get some for cheap cheap, I'll think about it. Otherwise, I'll just go with what I have.

    The workshop is at Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen. Over 20 waterfalls, but we'll likely only see a few select ones. We're not doing the full loop, we're starting at the top and ending at the bottom to avoid going up the icy trail. It's prohibited to go in winter unless you have rope, ice axe, and crampons. I've hiked it before in summer, and it was pretty slippery. As the date approaches, I'm getting a little nervous about hiking the icy trail--especially the parts where the steps are cut into the rock, oh and that bend in the trail with a width of like 4 feet to a drop-off of like 60-80 feet! Don't think about it, don't think about it, don't look down, don't look down. :eek: 

    That said, really hoping that this warm weather we're having now won't impact the "winter" aspect of this trip. For a month, we've had snow on the ground and sub-freezing temperatures. Today is a high of 50 and tomorrow 60! ARGH! :mad: 

    Thank you!
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2018
  12. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    You don't mention what bodies you will be using. If they are sealed bodies, the 12-40 would give you a completely sealed set up.

    If it was me, tripod, 12-40, 17 and 75, yes to the ND filters.
     
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  13. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Apologies, Oly EM1.1. Just one body. :( 
     
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  14. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Mu-43 Veteran

    432
    Dec 16, 2011
    Hayward, WI
    William B. Lewis
    Heh, nothing to apologize for; that's still an excellent sensor. I've "only" got a E-P3 (moved up to it a year ago from an E-PL1) because that's all I can afford. I'd love Pen F but that's going to happen sometime between years from now and never LOL I'll dream of an E-P5 for next Christmas :D 

    I'm going to look forward to seeing what you get. Learn something, enjoy the light and have fun; that's what makes the best photographic experiences.
     
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  15. JensM

    JensM Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    468
    Mar 6, 2016
    Oslo(ish), Norway
    As screename
    Since you seem to have settled on the 12-40 and 75mm, and that was what I would have suggested, I will instead suggest that you also invest in a pair of studded soles for yourself, as well as spikes for your tripod.

    I bought a set of Snowline Pro earlier this winter and they have transformed the hiking bit on snow/ice.
     
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  16. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    I’m drooling over a pen-f! Thank you, I’m very excited and looking forward to learning more about landscapes. :) 

    Will definitely share my results.

    Luckily, they’re providing the crampons! Woohoo!

    I found a cheap set of tripod spikes, so hoping they do the trick.
     
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  17. ijm5012

    ijm5012 Mu-43 Legend

    Oct 2, 2013
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Ian
    If you're wanting to get in to landscape photography, I HIGHLY recommend picking up some ND filters. With a base ISO of only 200 on most m43 cameras, and diffraction softening kicking in beyond f/8, trying to do long exposures without ND filters will likely result in frustration.

    Personally, I recommend having 3, 6, and 10-stop ND filters with you, as they'll all see use depending on the time of day you're shooting. 3-stop during blue hour, 6-stop during golden hour, 10-stop during the day, etc. I also recommend picking up a polarizer, ESPECIALLY when shooting water because not only will it cut atmospheric haze and boost the contrast and vibrance in the scene, but it also cuts reflections on the water. I use Haida Multicoated Slim ND filters, and B+W Slim CPL filters.

    For lenses, I'd take the 12-40 & 75mm with you. The 75mm can be a surprisingly useful landscape lens depending on the scene. My favorite lens is the 12-100 PRO, but you don't own one.

    Below are a couple examples of mine that show how using ND filters make for a more dramatic landscape shot.

    24787030978_8b4cf64f5c_b. Cloudy Southside-2 by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    23511298918_c04cf2833f_b. Sep 26 Sunrise D500 1 Web by Ian Menego, on Flickr

    35525739585_fd09b20c1d_b. Lucerne - EM1 II 42 copy by Ian Menego, on Flickr
     
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  18. waday

    waday Mu-43 Veteran

    259
    Apr 8, 2017
    PA, USA
    Wade
    Thanks for the tips! The courier should be delivering my ND and CPL filters today. :) 

    I didn't go for a 10-stop, but plan to pick one up in the near future.

    Nice shots! Love the sunrise shot of Pittsburgh! The wife and I visited the Duquesne Incline. Unfortunately, I only had my Canon P&S with me. Still got some decent shots. While a heavy, heavy crop, I liked this one of the kids peeking out.

    27406798995_fd15e70ec5_z.
     
  19. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    997
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    The Bassman
    I would go with the zooms - in your case, the 12-40 (which will get the most use) and the 14-140 in case you want to go long. I typically shoot 2/3 of my images with my 12-35/2.8, and most of the remainder with the 35-100/2.8. Primes are difficult to use for landscape, as “zooming with your feet” changes the perspective and therefore the image. Zooms let you crop the image properly from the spot you have the proper perspective from. And one of the major advantages of primes, the wider aperture, isn’t useful for landscape. And the 12-40 is quite sharp. I also have the 9-18 if I need to go wider, but rarely need it. Or you can use stitching.

    Two or three NDs - 3, 6 and optionally a 10 - are sufficient. I use 72mm filters and adaptor rings on my smaller lenses. Variable NDs do suffer from the “X” problem at higher density settings and wider FLs, so I stopped using them. You can stack the 3 & 6 if you don’t have a 10.

    A CPL is also a good idea, to control reflections, glare and perhaps bring out clouds in the sky. Again, stacking with the NDs is fine.

    Use the 2 second timer on your camera to make your tripod images even sharper.

    And mostly have fun and enjoy being outside in the winter.
     
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  20. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Mu-43 Veteran

    432
    Dec 16, 2011
    Hayward, WI
    William B. Lewis
    Yes. Exactly what you should want. Unless you like making the same image everyone else makes, force yourself to really see the landscape. Move around. Change your perspective. Find something missed by the others.

    The three biggest problems with modern landscape photography are zoom lenses, extreme wide angles and HDR. Finding a copy of "Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs" by Ansel Adams would do many photographers a world of good.
     
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