3 Useful Accessories for Landscape Photography

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With photography being more popular than ever been before, it’s no surprise that there are also a whole bunch of accessories available on the market. Many of these are completely unnecessary items that you’ll most likely never need. In this article, I’ll introduce you to three accessories for landscape photography that you can manage without BUT will probably be used more than anything else. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up as your favorite accessories that you can’t imagine photographing without.

L-Bracket

I’ve been using an L-Bracket for so long that I don’t even consider it to be an accessory anymore. For me, it’s become part of my equipment and I honestly don’t remember what my camera looks like without one.

An L-Bracket is a plate that is fastened to your camera body and serves as a connector between the tripod and the camera. The L-bracket is used instead of a regular quick release plate as it’s a much more flexible option. A clamp is placed on the tripod’s head to connect it with the camera.

3 Useful Accessories for Landscape Photography

Advantages of an L-Bracket

Now, you might be asking, “Why is that a better option than the regular plate which comes with the tripod?” Simply put, it eases your workflow.

Let’s say that you’re standing in the middle of a river and photographing a waterfall. You’re taking a horizontal image and you’ve got a good composition. After taking some images you realize that a vertical image will work better for that scene. With a regular plate, you’ll need to adjust your tripod head so the camera is tilted vertically. By doing this you most likely have to set up the composition all over again since you’re camera has now moved several inches to another side.

With an L-bracket, however, you avoid this problem. Simply disconnect the camera and clip it back into place vertically. In this case, the tripod hasn’t been moved which means you still have the same composition, just vertically instead.

Manfrotto L-bracket mounting a camera vertically on the tripod.

It wasn’t until I “lost” the clamp (connection between camera and tripod) in Iceland that I realized how valuable this tool has become in my workflow (I did find it again later at the airport – in my backpack…) Being able to seamlessly switch between a vertical and horizontal format has made this my favorite accessory. It does add some extra weight to your equipment but it will also protect the camera if you should be unlucky and drop it (still, I don’t recommend dropping it!)

Spirit Level

While this is a built-in function in many high-end DSLR cameras, a spirit level is an accessory that I strongly recommend one if you own a camera without the virtual horizon function.

Capturing images with a straight horizon can be difficult without a spirit level, especially when you’re photographing a scene that doesn’t have a defined horizon (in which case the grid view will help a lot). The spirit level is a handy little tool that will make this process much easier.

The spirit level is placed on the hot shoe (where you connect a flash to the camera). Many choose to leave it there at all times to avoid accidentally forgetting it at home. It’s not the most popular tool for those who don’t use a tripod since it’s placed on top of the camera. If you’re using a tripod, however, it can be essential.

Pre-Moistened Wipes

The last accessory I recommend is one that I have in my backpack at all times. In fact, I get worried if I only have one left.

Pre-moistened wipes are a landscape photographer’s best friend out in the field. We all know that creating beautiful images of landscapes often involve being outdoors in less than ideal weather. Either it’s windy, rainy or large waves are spraying you, having a couple pre-moistened wipes nearby will help you keep the lens clean at any time.

zeiss lens wipes - 3 Useful Accessories for Landscape Photography

Dust spots or dirt on the lens are constant battles and when it gets really bad it has the potential to ruin an image. (Unless you’re a post-processing ninja who’s willing to spend hours in Photoshop cleaning it up.)

I tend to always have a couple pre-moistened wipes plus a microfiber cloth in my pocket when I’m shooting out in the field. Most of the time, regular microfiber cloths will work great but in the most challenging conditions, you will want to use wet ones. This is especially true when photographing seascapes and the lens gets a thin layer of salt over it.

What are your faves?

These are some of the accessories I recommend for landscape photography. What are your favorites?

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Christian Hoiberg is a Norwegian landscape photographer and the founder of Capture Landscapes, a website to improve your landscape photography. His images can be found on his website or Instagram. He's also the author of the well-received Ultimate Guide to Long Exposure Photography.

  • drdroad

    I tried the L bracket. Pain in the butt, just another thing to have to carry around in the wild. Not sure how that is easier to remove the camera and then reattach it than just loosening the head clamp and turning it. Whatever.

  • Scott Hillman

    For one thing, shooting panoramas by rotating the camera 90 degrees around the ball head won’t work, since the camera’s focal point will be displaced from the axis of rotation.

  • drdroad

    Not sure what you’re trying to say here, but I shoot Vertical Panoramas all the time, hand held, on my Monopod, on my Tripod?? Yes, I have a big sensor so I shoot each shot a little bigger so I can crop, but otherwise no issue?

  • Scott Hillman

    Whether or not shooting off the axis of rotation creates a problem depends on a couple of things — well, four, actually. In shooting multiple-shot panoramas, the main concern is creating parallax distortion between successive images.

    This is particularly noticeable in cases where there are distinct lines in both the foreground and background of the image. Although panorama stitching software in Photoshop, Lightroom, and specialized stitching applications have become increasingly adept in resolving parallax distortion, there are still cases where the distortion correction, particularly near stitching boundaries, is noticeable and sometimes unacceptable.

    Other factors that will affect parallax are lens focal length and how far the lens’s “lens pupil” is from the axis of rotation. If you’re shooting landscapes and all of your subject matter is relatively distant, it’s likely that parallax won’t be a problem. The more foreground you include in your field of view, though, the more parallax will be introduced and the more challenging it will be for the stitching software to make acceptable corrections.

    Whether or not this is of any concern also depends on how exacting the work has to be. An architectural photographer, for example, will typically make use of tripod equipment (like that manufactured by Really Right Stuff) in order to avoid parallax issues.

    I’d say, if your technique is working for you… stick with it! I agree that carting around extra gear that’s not — or rarely — needed doesn’t make sense, especially when we have these amazing software post processing tools.

    If you’re interested in getting into the weeds regarding parallax and panorama photography, there’s a good summary at http://www.johnhpanos.com/epcalib.htm.

  • Christian Hoiberg

    Thanks for your comment! It’s interesting to read your opinion as I can’t imagine not having one! Had to go two days without one on a phototrip as I thought I lost the clamp (which of course was in the pocket of my backpack..) and I got so frustrated.

    For me, one of the greatest advantages of using a L-bracket is that you wont loose your composition when switching from horizontal to vertical. Without a bracket you’ll have to re-align the camera/tripod as the camera is moved a couple centimeters to one side.

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