Landscape Photography: What I learned in Montana

Went on my first "real" landscape photo outing to Glacier National Park in Montana this past weekend. Got some great shots of some amazing scenery! I learned a lot in the process and thought I'd share... 1) If you think you're carrying too much gear then you are. Leave some of the lenses behind and bring a good wide angle and a telephoto

2) Neutral density filters are a must, graduated neutral density especially. That being said, don't leave a grad. ND on the camera the WHOLE time and remember that grad NDs are not just for making the sky darker. If you're shooting a lot of waterfalls you may need to flip it around. I also quickly learned why cokin style filters are made of resin not glass (they don't shatter when bumped)

3) A circular polarizer is great however I found it got in the way more often then not. You lose a few stops of light and they are annoying to turn with a hood or cokin-style filter holder on there.

4) Lose the lens hood if you're using a circular polarizer unless you actually are getting lots of flair

5) Don't be scared to pull out the tripod. I found the extra weight while hiking was a pain but well worth it. Don't be shy about using it, esp with a bunch of filters on. You don't wanna find yourself kicking up the ISO too much out in the add noise and lose resolution

6) Bring a small towel to wipe off wet gear

7) Bring lens cleaning gear, especially microfiber to clean lens and filters. They get dirty in the field quickly

8) The iPhone 4S takes really good pictures. Kinda made me mad at the quality actually since I was lugging around 30-40 lbs of SLR gear and my friends' iPhone was taking such good pictures.

9) Don't get so enamored with the subject/views in front of you that you forget to look *behind* you.  Sometimes if you just turn around you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Last but not least, if you see an amazing scene....slow down. Our trip was a whirlwind and I found myself rushed VERY often (I was traveling with 2 non-photogs). While I got some great shots, they would've been better if I had not rushed myself and thought about focal length, filter choice, etc. try diff angles, diff focal lengths, but just take your time. This isn't always possible as light can be fleeting, but I found a good landscape scene is like a good hand on poker: don't go all in. Stop and take a breath and take your time.

There you is a learning experience and I learned a lot. Montana is beautiful and I'll share shots shortly. On that note, I leave you with one closing thought: don't get too wrapped up in your gear to the point you forget to enjoy the scenery and wildlife!