You need Photography Gadgets!
There you go… If your ‘other half’ asks “Why are you buying all these gadgets?” Tell them I said you need em!
There are a lot of gadgets on the market targeting landscape photographers and many of them deserve a place in your kit. Some of them you can definitely do without but if you are getting in the habit of capturing the perfect landscape photo they may help to stop worrying about camera variations and help you get the exact shot you want.
The most interesting landscape photographs are captured at the beginning and end of the day, under low light conditions, meaning that it is not always possible to handhold the camera and still achieve shake-free images.
You need a Remote shutter release
A remote shutter release is pretty much essential for professional results at sunset and in other low light situation where you want to use a slow shutter speed to capture the magic because you can use 30 second exposures or whatever setting you want. The are also affordable, small, light and easy to use.
The alternative to a remote shutter is overcourse using the timer in your camera but there is a lot better sense of control and a lot less holding your breath if you invest in a remote shutter.
Also, it will give some head space and more time to set up your camera, really look at the landscape and click with your instinct. Then you can keep clicking without having to worry about resetting your camera timer.
They usually start at around $30 and you can choose one with a cable, or without a cable. Your camera usually has a branded remote but in my experience you can get an equally good one from a third party producer.
Check out my review of different brands and types on YouTube.
Better remotes will include a digital display telling you how long the shutter has been open or a programmable timer mode so you can define the exposure length before taking the shot.
You need a sturdy Tripod
If you are serious about landscape photography you simply must invest in a tripod.
This has the potential to be an expensive item on this list, but it is probably the most crucial. They come in all weights and sizes, and therefore costs with aluminum is heavier and generally cheaper than the carbon fiber models.
However, the best can’t really be quantified in terms of weight and material. For example some big burly adventure photographers love to lug a huge heavy tripod up the mountain because they are strong enough and because a heavy tripod will have even less shake in a windy environment.
On the other hand, the difference in shake between a light and heavy tripod is probably insignificant especially if you are also using a remote shutter, so less burly photographers will appreciate some of the modern, light weight version that they can carry anywhere and set up quickly.
Most cheaper tripods are made of aluminium or Stainless Steel today but you can also find tripods made of Carbon Fibre that are affordable. I love my Really Right Stuff tripod, it is made of Carbon Fibre and you can read about it HERE.
Some photographers recommend a tripod that is much taller than you are for landscape work (use a remote shutter and get a brilliant high view). Others say it should be about your eye height so you can see what you are shooting clearly. In any case it is fairly pointless to buy one that is lower than your eye level because it will give you frustrating shot options and backpain.
The other things to test it out before you buy. How to the legs adjust? How do they slip up and down? What are the feet made off and how do they grip? What sort of head does it have? This is where you will attach your camera so you want it to be solid it will hold.
You may like some Filters
With your DSLR camera most filters for most situations will do little or nothing. However, serious landscape photographers should invest in two filters.
Firstly the Neutral Density (ND) Filters helps you to set longer exposure times than your lens alone by reducing the amount of light passing through the lens; the darker the filter, the longer the exposure time you can set on your camera to give you amazing shots of blurred moving water.
As you probably know, polarising filters are not considered as useful to the modern day digital photographer as they were to the old analogue photographers for everything but landscapes.
I think they are worth investing in for a landscape photographer as they can be a tool in suppressing reflections from non-metallic objects, such as foliage or water. This helps to increase the saturation of foliage and removes the glare from the surface of water or shiny objects in the scene. When used correctly they can even show detail below the water surface.
If you are shooting water, put one in your kit and if you are shooting under water ask about specialised versions.
My cheapest but most used gadget
The Hot Shoe spirit level – This little cube that you attach to the top of your camera will help you get the landscape straight and framed perfectly in camera. Okay, so many cameras have a built-in electronic spirit level that gives similar information in the viewfinder or on the top LCD but they are often hard to get to when your camera is set up, where is this one you can see at a glance without fiddling with what you’ve set and you can straighten the camera on the spot.
They are generally less than $15 and when you have your camera and tripod ready to go and you want to make that one last check, you’ll be glad to see it there.
I got mine on eBay for about $5 and it is one of my most used gadgets. A lot of people ask about it and wonder why when I have the virtual horizon I still use the Green Cube… it’s just easier! And I like EASY!
You’ll want a collection of camera bags
A final note, and this will depend on how far you go and how you go (are you hiking and camping). A good quality professional camera bag will make sure you are not messing around with trying to safely transport or store your gear.
Bags such as the professional favourite F-stop bag with ICU units are tough, weather-proof, protect your gear from bangs and falls and are comfortable to wear. Although they are not cheap, they can last a lifetime. You may find through the years you update your camera but you keep that trusty old bag that has followed you around the world.
I find I have several bags, depending on what my ‘Photographic Mission’ is I will choose a smaller or larger bag to adapt to the circumstance.
A few other bits and pieces
I’d also throw in a rug/poncho for lying on if I am doing Macro photography on the ground and some solution/cleaning kit for cleaning my lens and camera in case of mud, dust or other muck.
I am sure there is a bunch of other gadgets I have missed… Can you think of anything else you would pack? Leave your ideas in the comments below!