What's in My Bag - Taylor Varnau, Landscape Photography


This month we’re heading outside with landscape photographer Taylor Varnau. An experienced outdoors-man based in California, Taylor turns his lens to the beauty of nature to capture beautiful landscape and aerial scenes - even catching elusive whale migrations! Learn what Taylor relies on out in the field in this month’s What’s In My Bag!


Being a landscape photographer, the right tools are a huge part of what I do. Durability, quality, price, etc. All of these factors come into play when choosing the right equipment. During long hikes, lightweight tripods and comfortable bags can make all the difference. Add harsh weather and environments, and gear that can withstand the elements is essential. I’ve put together some of most important pieces to share with you.



1. Camera & Lenses    

  • Tamron 15-30mm SP 2.8
  • Tamron 150-600mm SP 5-6.3
  • Canon 5D Mark IV
  • LEE Filter Set

The most important piece is my wide angle lens. I’ve chosen the Tamron 15-30mm SP 2.8. This lens paired with my Canon 5D Mark IV, the quality of images created is second to none. It’s tac sharp from corner to corner, weather sealed, and can take a beating. It's not the smallest lens on the market, in fact, it's one of the larger lenses I’ve owned. But I’m willing to drag the extra pounds around for better quality photos at the end of the day.

On the end of this lens is almost always a few filters from my LEE filter set. Filters are extremely important to what I do. Often times its very hard to balance the exposures of the sky and foreground, and Graduated ND filters can help balance that out. I can also slow my shutter speed during sunsets using my 10 Stop ND filter. It's not uncommon for me to drag out an exposure to 10 minutes or longer.

When I’m not shooting with my wide angle, I have my telephoto attached. Once again, I went with Tamron. This time I chose the 150-600mm SP 5-6.3. Not only does this lens have an insane focal range, it's also incredibly sharp. This lens isn’t for the weak though. Shooting handheld is almost impossible after a few minutes because it's so large. But, as I mentioned before, i’ll gladly pack this along knowing I have it just in case.

1. Gear

  • Star Tracker

Last but not least, I’ve included my star tracker. Shooting landscapes isn’t always a sunrise to sunset type of thing. You’ll constantly find me out under the stars capturing the beauty of the night sky. However, due to the earth's rotation, any exposure over 30 seconds will results in star trails across the sky. This is where my iOptron SkyTracker Pro comes into play. This device allows me to mount my camera and follow the stars across the sky, enabling me to increase my aperture and shutter speed, decrease my ISO, and pull every detail I can without getting exceptional amounts of noise.


There you go, those are some of my essentials that help me produce the photos I create. Of course I left some items out, like a tripod and camera bag. But I feel that some pieces are subjective, and fit people’s comfortability levels differently.



About Taylor Varnau

Taylor Varnau is a landscape photographer based out of Bakersfield, CA. Born and raised in Colorado, he was born with a connection with the outdoors. Climbing his first fourteener at just two months old on his fathers back, a childhood of backpacking and skiing has given him a deep respect for the earth we live on. Finding a passion in photography just five years ago has allowed him to continue enjoying the outdoors in Southern California. 

Taylor served a four year term in the military straight out of high school. Stationed in Las Vegas, he met his soon to be wife and made the move to California. Now a construction worker by day, he utilizes his time after work to hit the beach or downtown Los Angeles to do what he really loves. Capturing the movement of water, clouds stirring throughout the sky, or the ceaseless nightlife of the city. 

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Taylor Varnau

Taylor Varnau