|Isle of Rum from Singing Sands Beach|
Raynor: I often preach that the camera does not matter. The best camera is the one you have with you and stays out of your way. What I mean by that is most cameras these days have complex menu systems mostly containing settings and options you will never need; a person can get lost in there! People miss shots all the time fumbling with their systems, be it the camera, tripod, or filters. It's a great idea to get to know your camera before you head out to shoot. It's much nicer experience fumbling with your camera while you are trying to photograph your dog, than doing it while there is once in a lifetime light happening all around you.
A few pieces of gear that I find indispensable:
Graduated Neutral Density Filters:
I use these 98% of the time for two reasons. The first is obvious: Neutral Density Graduated Filters are used to balance the exposure within a scene – typically between the bright sky and considerably darker land. The other less known benefit of these filters is that when you use these filters you can see definition, color, and patterns in the clouds and sky. This allows you to more easily create relationships between the foreground and background.
A great tripod and ball-head:
Tripods might not be the most exciting topic of conversation when it comes to photography gear, but they are what you literally place your entire system on...so they are quite important. I'd recommend carbon fiber: it's light, absorbs vibration, and won't fuse to your fingers in cold weather. As for ball heads I've not found an equal to Acratech's Ultimate Ball-head, light, simple, and easy to use.
L brackets allow you to switch from portrait to landscape orientation and vice versa - efficiently, without the need to tilt your ball head and re-level the shot. It's is a huge hassle to drop your camera down to the side of your tripod to take a shot in portrait orientation, you will lose the composition you worked so hard at creating.