My name is James Smart and I am a travel and landscape photographer. I picked up my first camera in 2012, in Italy when I met up with my parents. Dad had recently purchased a Canon 5D Mark II. First time I ever held a camera really… and the passion just grew from there and haven’t looked back.
The never-ending journey of camera gear… I started off with the basics as you do. One camera, one lens, and a dodgy tripod. Then after learning more about polarisers, filters, remote shutters, the gear list began to increase.
Always been Canon, just because that is what I shot with first, plus it’s much easier with lenses, and you get used to the menu systems.
I also first jumped in with the Lee Filter system, this is one of my favourite purchases to date. The CPL, ND, and GND filters are fantastic and have changed my photography, expanding it from your standard landscape images to being able to get rid of glare, super long exposures, and even lighting.
Canon EOS R: I really wanted to get into the mirrorless market, and I didn’t want to change brands, so the EOS R was my selection. I love this camera, the EVF is amazing, and having manual focus peaking makes this pretty much my go-to camera at the moment.
Being able to focus and see the peaking in times of the day when its hard to focus is fantastic, also in Bulb mode, you can see through your ND filter (guide) which helps you line up your shot without taking your filter off!
Osmo Action: Recently acquired, but loving having an action camera for quick time lapses while I’m shooting on my main cameras, great for a different angle for video on the move.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro: It’s great to get different perspectives when being a landscape/travel photographer, and no better way than in the air. The Mavic 2 Pro gives a really nice image, especially with the ability to have it in my backpack and access it whenever I need it.
Canon 24-105mm f/4: Great lens for landscapes. I find myself using this for the majority of my photography. 24mm is reasonably wide, but if I need wider I will shoot panoramas and stitch them in post.
Canon 8-15mm f/4: I picked this lens up for my underwater photography. I was keen to start shooting underwater and capture the over/under shots, and with a fisheye, it’s perfect, plus you can get really close to your subjects which also gives you an amazing experience with wildlife.
Sigma 14mm f/1.8 DG HSM: I was looking for a lens that was wide and let in a lot of light so I can capture some beautiful astro images and also wide enough for storm chasing and other natural phenomenon (northern lights).
Then sigma brought out this lens which goes to f/1.8 and it is crisp, and amazing build quality at a reasonable price.
Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3: So I’m heading to South Africa in March, and I have never had a telephoto lens, so I decided to pick up the Tamron. It also gives you a new perspective when shooting landscapes, which is really cool, instead of just shooting wide most of the time.
Miops Smart Trigger: I was having issues with another brand that was a wireless trigger, had been through three of them, and they just kept faulting, so I found a Kickstarter brand named Miops and thought I would give them a go.
You can use it either from the unit itself or via the app on your phone/tablet. It’s very versatile, giving you options for almost anything from lightning to long exposure timelapse.
Lumecube: I rarely use lights, but when I need to light up a foreground object for astrophotography I use the little Lumecube. Compact and very solid build quality.
Wandrd Duffel: I loved the look and space these bags have. I also really quite enjoy giving Kickstarter guys my business, because they are generally being designed by photographers for photographers, especially ones that travel a lot.
I do put a lot of gear in my bag, usually weighs around the 15kg mark, but even with all that, it’s very comfortable.
Manfrotto Go 190 (Carbon Fibre): Light and compact, able to hold my gear very well and always good build quality from the guys at Manfrotto.
Hardware & Software
Lee Filters: I use the Lee Filters for the majority of my landscape photography.
The Circular Polariser, soft & hard Graduated ND’s and the Big Stopper which all fit to work with my Canon 24-105mm.
Nisi Filters: I jumped to Nisi just for the Sigma 14mm as they were the only ones that had a filter holder that would fit on this wide-angle lens at the time. So I run with the 15 stop ND and the HD Polariser (until I cracked the filter…)
Asus Zenbook 14: Perfect for travel, it’s light, coming in at 1kg and has good enough specs to be editing on the move when out in the field.
Meikon Underwater Housing (Not in my bag): Using this housing with my Canon 5DS R and Canon 8-15mm f/4 lens, this has been great to use for “Split or over/under” images of turtles, whales and so on. Looking to upgrade to Aquatech over the next year.
The best thing about travel/landscape photography, it takes you to places you wouldn’t think of going, whether its sunset at the top of a mountain in Australia or swimming with sharks in Hawaii.
When you start being creative it inspires you to chase these images you have in your head, even if you don’t capture what you wanted to, at least you experienced these adventures.