- A Firecrest 6-stop ND filter for taking long exposures that result in gorgeously smooth water, like that in the image you see above.
- A Firecrest ND soft edge grad that that helps you darken bright skies and reduce the dynamic range between the sky and the landscape, resulting in a photo that's better exposed throughout.
- An ND reverse grad, which is ideally suited for getting well-exposed sunrise and sunset photos due to the darkest area of filtration being right in the middle of the filter. Darken the brightest parts of the sky, keep the foreground bright, and enjoy well-exposed Golden Hour photos like the one below.
When I first started in photography, I shot landscapes almost exclusively.
And when I say I shot landscapes, I mean I literally had nothing more than my camera and lens.
I had no kit whatsoever, and my early landscape photos suffered because of it.
Well, if I'm being honest, they suffered for a lot more reasons, but that's another story entirely.
The point is that landscape photography benefits greatly from having the right equipment beyond your camera and lens
That doesn't mean you have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on accessories, though.
In fact, if you really only need a few items to make your landscape photography adventures more productive and more fun.
In an earlier post, I discussed the required gear you need - a camera, a lens, a tripod, and so forth.
In this post, let's take a look at some interesting gadgets that do everything from help you create better photos to keep you organized to help you tend to broken gear to making your outing more comfortable.
Taking landscape photos without filters is like trying to handhold your camera while using an ultra-low shutter speed.
Sure, you'll get a photo, but it won't reach the potential that it could.
Having a solid set of filters helps you overcome all sorts of obstacles, from bright skies and dark landscapes to sunset photos that are too dark to using long exposures, even in daylight.
Formatt-Hitech's Colby Brown Signature Edition Landscape Photography Filter Kit fits the bill for virtually any landscape photos you wish to take.
The kit includes the following filters:
The kit also comes with all the hardware you need to use these filters with your lens. That includes a Firecrest 100mm filter holder, an 82mm rotating adaptor ring, and numerous step rings.
If you opt for the premier Colby Brown Signature Kit, you also get a Firecrest SuperSlim Polarizer, which helps reduce glare off of water and boosts the saturation of the sky.
In other words, this is an all-in-one landscape photography filter kit that you need if you're serious about upgrading the quality of your photos!
But like I noted earlier, the Colby Brown Signature kit is great for virtually all kinds of landscape photos you might want to take.
If you really want to step up your landscape photography game and take truly unique photos, you also need to add a quality solar filter to your kit.
I know what you're thinking...solar filters are only good for the upcoming total solar eclipse, right?
Though having a solar filter for the eclipse later this year is definitely a must-have, you can use a solar filter any day of the year to capture the amazing beauty of the sun without damaging the delicate optics of your lens or camera.
For my money, you can't beat Seymour Solar's Helios Glass Threaded Camera Solar Filter shown above.
First of all, Seymour Solar has a reputation for making fine optics that not only protect your gear, but do so in a way that doesn't reduce teh quality of your photos.
That is, their threaded glass filter is made of high-grade Helios solar glass that has a reflective coating on it to block the sun's harmful rays.
In fact, as an ND 5 solar filter, this thing blocks 99.999 percent of light.
Secondly, the Helios glass filter offers incredible resolution - much better than film filters - so your images of the sun will be beautifully detailed.
And as if that's not enough, these filters are easy on the budget, so you don't have to take out a second mortgage to get one!
No matter if you need a solar filter that's 37mm, 95mm or somewhere in between, Seymour Solar has you covered.
When you're out in nature, you never know when the weather might take a turn for the worse.
You certainly don't want to be out shooting photos and be left in a situation in which you have no way to protect your gear from the elements.
That means having accessories for everything from your camera to your memory cards.
Keep your memory cards safe and sound in a waterproof holder like the JJC MC-2 Memory Card Case shown above.
It's rubber sealed and waterproof, so even in the strongest of downpours, you can rest assured your precious cards will be nice and dry.
You also need to protect your camera and lens from rain, snow, and other moisture, and a camera rain cover fits the bill.
These covers can prove to be invaluable for those occasions when you just can't get out of the elements.
Rain covers are inexpensive (the one pictured above is $13.00), easy to put on with zippers and velcro straps, and are universal, so you can use in on a Canon, Nikon, or just about any other brand of DSLR.
Between the camera rain cover and the memory card case, you aren't out hardly any money, yet have what you need to keep your gear dry. That's peace of mind that's worth every single penny!
Of course, checking the weather before you go out to photograph landscapes should be part of your routine, but storms can show up with little warning once you're out.
Weather Underground uses NEXRAD radar information combined with data from 200,000 individual weather stations worldwide to give you pinpoint accuracy for rain, wind, temperature, humidity, and other essential measurements.
That includes highly detailed hourly forecasts with radar imaging that shows the path of the storm.
Another handy feature is the First Light/Last Light function, which goes beyond telling you when the sun rises or sets and lets you know when it will be fully light or fully dark. That's a great feature for nabbing those sunrise and sunset photos!
There are plenty of other apps you can get, too...
Some tell you where to find the darkest skies for nighttime photo shoots.
Others help you process your landscape images so they look their best.
Check out five popular apps, with explanations of each in the video above by Serge Ramelli.
I know, I know..."tools" makes it sound like you have to head into the wilderness with a full-on toolbelt around your waist.
But that's not the case...
Really, the most essential tools are a tripod wrench and a multitool.
In the case of the former, you don't want to hike for an hour to get to your shoot location and find that your quick-release plate or L-plate is loose. I've used a dime to tighten them up in a pinch, but a tripod wrench does a much better job (and it takes up next to no space in your bag or can be put on your keyring).
The Thinguma K-532 shown above will get the job done on virtually any tripod plate you might use.
In the case of the latter, you never know when you'll be out taking awesome landscape photos and find that you need scissors, pliers, or a bottle opener.
Having a multitool like the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier can get you out of more than one jam when you're out in the field.
And, like the tripod wrench discussed above, the Gerber Suspension Multi-Plier doesn't weigh a heck of a lot and can be added to your camera bag without taking up a lot of space.
Hot-Shoe Bubble Level
One of the quickest ways to ruin an otherwise great landscape photo is to have a horizon that isn't level.
Many cameras today have an integrated level that you can see when shooting in live view.
A lot of tripods also have built-in levels, so you're sure to get those horizons straight.
But if you find that your gear is without a level, you can grab a hot-shoe bubble level like the one above for less than $10.00.
What a hot-shoe level has over the others is that it's right there at your eye level for easy reading.
One of my cameras has an integrated level, but I never use it because I forget it's there. But with this big green box on top of my camera, I always remember to check it before framing up the shot.
There are plenty of other accessories to add to your bag, too. Extra batteries for your camera are a must, especially if you'll be out in the cold or you have a long day of shooting planned.
Speaking of extras, having multiple memory cards (inside your waterproof holder!) is another must-have. Bring a second lens while you're at it. Having a wide-angle like an 18mm and a standard lens like a 50mm will help you get different perspectives on the same terrain.
With lens changes come the opportunity for your lenses to get dirty. Bring along some blower so you can get rid of the big gunk and spend less time trying to Photoshop it out of your photos.
If you pack your camera bag with the accessories explored above, you will be well-prepared to meet just about any challenge!