7 Essential Accessories for Landscape Photography

“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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The 3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography

Landscape photography is a genre that spans a multitude of different styles, from up close and intimate images to sweeping panoramas. In order to cover all your needs, you must have the right equipment.

Lenses are possibly the most important piece of equipment to consider, perhaps even more so than the camera itself. You will change the camera from time to time, good objectives are forever.

Much of the cost of photographic equipment will go towards lenses, so choose carefully before deciding which one to buy. There is a huge offering on the market and it is easy to get lost with so many specifications and terminology, especially if you are just starting out.

In this article we will analyze the 3 objectives that you will need as a landscape photographer and will give you the necessary advice to decide and invest your money wisely.

Prime vs Zoom.

Fixed focal lenses for landscape photography are highly impractical. By not having a zoom, they will greatly limit the composition. You should have many, many prime lenses to meet your needs, and you usually don’t even need the advantages that prime lenses offer. The large diaphragm opening and the greater definition that they usually offer do not counteract their impracticality.

A mistake that is made with this type of lens is to think that you can zoom simply by changing your position, and this in landscape photography is completely wrong. If you zoom in or out of your subject, you are completely changing the perspective of the scene, while if you zoom in, you are cutting the field of view by changing the focal length.

In addition, many times it is impossible to physically approach or move away from the subject for the simple reason that the terrain where you are prevents you from doing so.

Diaphragm Aperture

There are some exceptions, but generally in landscape photography you will use an aperture of F8 to F11 to have a greater depth of field, and it is also in this aperture range that the subjects are sharpest.

If we do not take into account astrophotography and the northern lights, this means that the 3 essential lenses you need for landscape photography should not be bright, which will save you a lot of money, weight and volume.

To give you an idea, a lens with a constant aperture of F2.8 on average usually weighs and measures 35% more, and costs twice as much as one with an F4.0 aperture. It makes no sense to invest that money and carry the extra weight and volume if you are not going to take advantage of it.

Image Stabilizer

Personally I prefer lenses to have an image stabilizer. However, most modern cameras already incorporate the stabilizer in the body, and some brands even allow both stabilizers to work together.

In the vast majority of cases you will photograph with a tripod, but there are cases in which the stabilizer will come in handy, so I recommend having it on at least one of the two (lens or camera). It will be very useful if you have to shoot handheld and even if it is mounted on the tripod and there is a lot of wind, especially when using a telephoto lens.

Weather Resistance.

Shooting landscapes means that you will spend most of your time outdoors, under all kinds of weather conditions. To avoid possible damage, make sure your lens is sealed with gaskets on its moving parts, and is constructed of durable materials.

Autofocus.

Although landscape photography is a rather slow genre, investing in autofocus lenses is worth it. There are just times when focusing manually can be tedious, for example when shooting handheld.

The landscapes have hardly any movement, so you don’t need the latest technology in focus systems. A consistent and precise autofocus will be more than enough.

Focal Distance.

I’m going to be talking in full format terms, so if you’re using an APS-C or Micro 4/3 system you’ll need to take into account the crop factor of your system:

SONY/NIKON APS-C: 1.5

CANON APS-C: 1.6

MICRO 4/3: 2

Wide Angle | Ultra Wide Angle.

It is the most popular lens for landscape photography and it is for less. The reason they are so revered is because of their focal range, which ranges from 12mm to 35mm. This wide range of vision allows you to capture images with a perspective that the human eye is not used to seeing, resulting in unusual and impressive images. That is why they are considered an essential lens for any landscape photographer.

Also, wide lenses are excellent at conveying depth, which means you’ll get consistently sharp images, from foreground to background, something we almost always look for in landscape photography.

The big question when purchasing this lens is to decide on a wide angle or an ultra wide angle. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

Depending on your brand, you will normally find the following options:

ULTRA WIDE ANGLE: 11-24mm, 14-24mm or the most common 14-24mm.

WIDE ANGLE: 15-30mm, 17-40mm, the most common being 16-35mm.

In the wide-angle lens you can attach filters, even screw-in ones that minimize camera movement when placing them. They are also more versatile as they have a longer focal range, allowing you more flexibility when composing.

The big advantage of the ultra wide angle is those extra 2mm in its shortest focal range. It may not seem like much, but those extra millimeters make a big difference in the real world. On the other hand, these objectives have a convex front element, so filters cannot be easily adapted. There are specific filter holder systems for these objectives, but they are large, heavy and very expensive, so I do not recommend them. Also its shorter focal range makes it less versatile and you will have to swap lenses more often.

Standard Zoom.

As the name indicates, this zoom is considered the standard lens in the photographic world. Ranging from 24 to 70mm, it is possibly the most versatile lens of all. It provides a field of view similar to the human eye, and as such, can create more realistic and pleasing images.

At 24mm it’s wide enough to get glorious views with a more natural composition, and at 70mm you’re entering short telephoto territory, giving you enough focal length to play with composition and focus more on detail.

Luckily it’s easier to choose in the range of standard zoom lenses. Here the big debate is between choosing a 24-70mm or a 24-105mm. The 24-70mm is usually available with a constant F2.8 aperture, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s not a necessity for landscape photography. Another advantage is usually a greater definition by having a smaller focal range, but this varies depending on the objective and brand.

The main advantage of the 24-105mm is obviously that extra 35mm of focal range, which makes it an even more versatile lens.

Telephoto | Super-Telephoto.

These lenses are generally more associated with wildlife photography, although they definitely have a place in landscape photography as well, and can enhance your photography by seeing the world in a different way. Its long focal range allows you to dissect and isolate details of the landscape such as lines, patterns, textures or silhouettes, giving rise to more abstract images, adding variety to your portfolio. They are also an excellent option for excluding much of the landscape when the light is not good, or when the scene lacks interest in the foreground.

The typical range of a telephoto lens is usually between 70 and 200mm, and the super telephoto lens goes up to 300, 400 and even 600mm. Generally the 70-200mm range is sufficient, but some people prefer 70-300 or 100-400 to have even more range.

70-200mm lenses tend to have more definition than a 70-300mm or 100-400mm, although that always depends on the specific brand and lens. Also the 100-400mm tend to be much more expensive and heavier, although the offer on the market is always growing and there are excellent options at competitive prices.

Resume:

  • Fixed focal lenses are not practical for landscape photography.
  • Do not invest in bright lenses, a maximum aperture of F4 is sufficient.
  • Get lenses with a stabilizer if your camera doesn’t have one.
  • The construction and tightness of the lens are very important.
  • You don’t need ultra-fast focusing lenses.
  • Consider the crop factor if you are using an APS-C or Micro 4/3 camera.
  • If you opt for an ultra-wide angle lens, check first what filter system you can use, perhaps a wide angle is more convenient for you.
  • As for the combinations, any of these options will cover all your needs, so that the team is not the factor that sets your limits:

14-24mm + 24-70mm + 70-200mm. This combination is known in the photographic world as “the holy trinity”, and it is the most common combination. (A variant would be to change the telephoto lens for a 70-300mm).
16-35mm + 24-105mm + 100-400mm is also a very interesting alternative, if you opt for a longer standard zoom.

Conclusion:

Every photographer has their own style, which means the concept of the best lens for landscape photography will vary depending on your needs.

If you’re just starting out and you’re still unclear on your style, I advise you to practice with whatever camera and lens you have on hand. With time and practice, you will find that you start to gravitate more towards a certain style, and then you will know what your needs are.

I hope this article has been helpful to you, and it clears up your doubts about what each objective offers and what qualities, or not, you should look for in them. If you have any other questions, or you liked the article, do not hesitate to leave me a comment

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Compatible on all devices (Windows, Android, iOS), and the free Lightoom Mobile app, Lightroom Classic and ACR.

What Camera do I need for Landscape Photography?

Each camera is a world, and choosing the one that best suits you is not an easy task. Learn about all the features and functionality that make a camera ideal for landscape photography.


The 3 Essential Lenses for Landscape Photography

As a landscape photographer, lenses are possibly the most important items in your kit. Discover which are the 3 essentials, and what characteristics or not, you should look for to invest your money…


7 essential habits to improve as a landscape photographer

All successful photographers share certain habits in common. Adopt these 7 essential habits to boost your effectiveness and increase your chances of capturing memorable images.