“It’s not about the equipment, it’s about the photographer behind it.” You’ve probably heard this phrase many times, and I couldn’t agree more. Creativity is the most important tool you have as a photographer.
However, there are certain tools that are essential, and it is no secret that most professional photographers depend on them. The harsh reality is that some techniques are not possible without the right equipment, at least if you want to consistently get the best images.
In this article we will review the 7 accessories that I consider essential as a landscape photographer, either to obtain the best images or simply to make your work easier.

01. Tripode

If I had to choose just one tool from this list, it would definitely be the tripod. This tool is absolutely indispensable for any landscape photographer, so you should give it due attention.

Typically, you will shoot with a closed aperture, usually between F8 and F11, and a low ISO. This means that exposure times are usually long. Therefore, you will need a stable platform to place your camera on, and this is where the tripod comes into play.

In addition, it allows you to compose the scene calmly and precisely, and lock the camera once you have found the ideal composition. The offer on the market is truly overwhelming in terms of brands, models and features. In many cases, there are even several variants of the same tripod, so the choice can be complicated.

To choose the ideal tripod, you must first determine your priorities. The most important features to consider are weight, folded size, height, maximum load, and price.

Weight: As a landscape photographer, you will carry your tripod almost always. You’ll greatly appreciate having a lightweight tripod, especially when taking long, difficult hikes.
Folded size: Since it is a tool that you will use frequently, make sure that it is a suitable size once folded, so that you can easily carry it along with your backpack.
Height: Once installed on the tripod, your camera should ideally reach eye level to avoid having to bend down. If possible, this height should be achieved without raising the center column of the tripod.
Maximum load: Calculate the weight of all your equipment, including the camera, heaviest lens, filter holder, filters and remote shutter release. My advice is to buy a tripod that supports at least 30%-40% more than what you need. This will provide you with additional stability, especially in windy conditions.
Price: The tripod is an essential part of your equipment and will see a lot of wear and tear. It will be in direct contact with external elements such as water, earth, dust and ice. Make sure your tripod is built with strong, durable materials. Investing in a good tripod will be cheaper in the long run, so don’t skimp on this aspect or you will regret it.
The difficulty when choosing a model is that each feature you choose will affect the others. For example, if you are looking for a lightweight tripod, you may have to sacrifice size and/or height. If you want a tall, light tripod, it will be more expensive, and so on.

That’s why I emphasize the importance of being clear about your priorities. You should establish an order of importance for the five features and ensure that the tripod meets your needs, prioritizing the most crucial features and, if necessary, being willing to make sacrifices on those that are less important to you.

  • Ball Head: To complete any tripod, you will need a ball head. This tool is what connects your camera to the tripod and provides the freedom necessary to compose the scene.
    There are several types of ball joints, but I personally recommend the ball head. This type of head is the most versatile and will provide you with good results in landscape photography. Make sure it’s built with durable materials, has a safety mechanism, is compatible with Arca-Swiss dishes, and offers the ability to rotate for panoramic shots. As I mentioned with the tripod, it is advisable that it can support 30-40% more than the maximum weight of your equipment.

02. Rotation Ring

One of the essential accessories for landscape photography has always been the “L” shaped plate. With it, we can switch between vertical and horizontal compositions relatively quickly. Despite its usefulness, this accessory has some limitations, such as partially obstructing the rotation of the camera’s articulated screen, making ports difficult to access, and the inability to use a strap clip.

However, there is a solution that solves all these restrictions: the innovative rotation ring. You can attach it like a tripod collar, and it allows you to rotate the camera freely in a matter of seconds without obstructing any ports. In addition, it is compatible with Arca-Swiss shoes. In my opinion, the rotation ring is the ideal choice to replace the old “L” shaped plate due to its versatility and its ability to solve the aforementioned drawbacks.

The pioneer product in this category was the “ATOLL” from the Silence Corner company, although currently, other manufacturers offer similar variants that provide these advantages.

03. Strap Clip

I have lost count of the valuable opportunities that have passed me by because my precious camera was stowed away in my backpack. The simple thought of having to unzip it and take it down often puts me off, especially when my backpack is fully loaded and I find myself ascending to the top of a mountain, which is quite common on my photography outings.

I have never found it practical to wear it hanging around my neck, and I prefer to have my hands free to move better. As a result, my camera almost always ends up out of reach when unrepeatable moments arise.

The perfect solution to this problem is an ingenious clip designed to fit onto your backpack strap. This clip allows you to securely attach an Arca-Swiss type hot shoe to, for example, your tripod, or even better, the rotation ring I talked about in the previous section, which is completely compatible with this system. This way, you’ll have your camera solidly secured, always within reach, and ready to shoot in a matter of seconds.

Additionally, the clip features a quick release button and a safety locking system that can be activated to prevent accidental releases during those longer trips, so your gear will be completely safe.

The first product to be launched on the market was the Peak Design Capture Clip, which, as of the date of this article, is in its version 3. However, as is often the case with this type of successful accessories, there are other manufacturers that They also sell them today.

04. Remote Shutter

It’s an accessory that many photographers overlook, but I personally think that shooting with a shutter release can make all the difference.

Every time you press the shutter, the pressure you exert on the button creates micro vibrations in the camera. It doesn’t matter if you have the sturdiest tripod on the market, since you are physically touching the camera.

You could use your camera’s delay function (the camera takes 3 seconds to take the photo once you press the shutter), but this function wastes time and, above all, is not very versatile.

Most remote shutter releases have a button lock, so you can bracket exposure with just one press, or keep the shutter release in bulb mode until you press it again, all without touching the camera.

My advice is that you directly purchase an interval meter. This adds functions that are very useful, making it an even more flexible tool. In addition, they have a counter that tells you how long you are pressing the button, which is tremendously useful. Third-party wired interval meters are very economical and usually work very well, so don’t hesitate to get one of them.

05. Filters

When you take your first steps in landscape photography, it can be difficult to understand the use of filters, and knowing how to implement them at the right time is a skill that takes practice.

However, filters allow you to increase your creativity and add an artistic touch to your image, which is why they are considered essential for many landscape photographers.

There are many types of filters; ND, graduated ND, inverted graduated ND, polarizers, light pollution, UV and infrared. To make matters more complicated, some filters have more than 20 different strengths. There are square ones, circular threaded ones, variable density…

Deciding which one you need can be a difficult task, and if you’re not careful, you can end up with a collection of filters that can cost a small fortune. To help you with your choice, I detail the three filters that I use the most and with which I manage to cover 90% of my needs.

  • Polarized Filter: Sooner or later you will end up with this filter in your bag, because the effects you get with this filter cannot be replicated in any other way, not even in Photoshop. If I could only have one filter, it would undoubtedly be the polarized one.
    This filter has various uses, the most important being the reduction or elimination of reflections, especially on shiny surfaces such as water or glass. If you are photographing a lake, for example, this filter will eliminate reflections and you will be able to see through the water.On the other hand, it increases the saturation and contrast of certain colors. The blue of the sky becomes more intense, making the clouds stand out. It also enhances the fall colors and green foliage.Lastly, it is also used to cut or reduce the amount of haze in the image, so you can get greater detail and texture in the landscape.ND Filter: Neutral density filters are like sunglasses for your camera, and as such, they reduce the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor. Generally, they are used to equalize the exposure in scenes with a lot of contrast (although this can be achieved by merging two exposures in Photoshop), but above all they are used to reduce the shutter speed, or in other words, lengthen the exposure time. .
    A very common use is to blur the movement of water in lakes, rivers or waterfalls, or blur clouds, giving that distinctive artistic touch.While this effect can also be achieved to some extent in Photoshop, I’m a fan of getting the best results straight from the camera. It’s less artificial, and you save time in post-processing.The different graduations are measured by the optical density of the filter, or by its factor number, and indicate the amount of light they allow to pass to the sensor. Each step halves the light, so an ND 2 filter lets 50% of light through, an ND 4 – 25%, an ND 8 – 12.5% and so on up to ND 100000 which lets only 0.001 through. %.

    Personally, I use an ND 1024 (also known as ND 1000), which has an optical density of 3.0, and an ND 16, with a density of 1.2. By playing with these two filters and the aperture of the diaphragm, I manage to cover the vast majority of my needs.

    I advise you to purchase fewer filters, but of higher quality. Keep in mind that these filters are placed in front of your lens, and, therefore, will have a direct impact on the quality of the image. It makes no sense to invest in a good camera and lens if you are going to later install a filter that introduces a color cast or alters the sharpness.

06. Cleaning Kit

It is not the most exciting accessory on this list, perhaps that is why many photographers do not pay it due attention. It may seem obvious, but a cleaning kit is absolutely essential.

After all the money you’ve invested in your equipment to capture the highest quality images, the last thing you want is to ruin them with dust particles or dirt smudges.

Periodic cleaning will extend the life of your equipment, and will avoid the arduous work of digitally cleaning the image during post-processing, but the most important thing is that you will avoid accumulating dust and dirt that could reach the sensor when changing lenses.

07. Backpack

Last but not least, you will need a backpack where you can store, protect and transport your precious equipment and accessories. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good backpack from the start, one that is comfortable to wear, weather resistant, and padded enough to protect all your gear.

I also advise you to purchase your backpack with enough space to house not only your current equipment, but also the one you think you are going to purchase in the future, this way you will avoid having to change backpacks as your equipment grows.

Another factor to take into account is the dimensions of your backpack. I recommend a backpack whose dimensions do not exceed the permitted limits to carry on board during flights. The last thing you want is to have to check it in and have it go with the rest of your luggage in the hold! A backpack with a 24 liter capacity should normally meet the measurements and at the same time be able to house all your equipment.

Conclusion:

I quote again the phrase with which I began this article: “It’s not about the equipment, but about the photographer behind it.”

Learning the fundamentals of photography and knowing how to apply them, mastering composition and understanding how light influences your image are the elements that will make you a better photographer, not the value of your equipment.

The main advantage of having good equipment and accessories is the creative possibilities they offer. However, it is difficult to take advantage of these possibilities if you have not yet acquired the essential fundamentals.

My advice is that you acquire the equipment step by step, as you evolve as a photographer and your needs grow.

What is the accessory that you consider most important? Are there any that you would include in this list? Let me know in the comments!

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