1. Phottix Triple Axis Bubble Level
I have always had problems getting a level horizon in my images. Whether it is because I have bad eyes or simply being bent over to look through the view finder distorts my perspective I don't know. What I do know is that I ended up having to straighten in Photoshop and end up cropping a little from the sides of the image as a consequence. This can be annoying if you have taken the trouble to carefully compose your image in camera.
I came across this simple little device on a photography workshop many years ago. It is a small cube that fits in the hot shoe of your camera and tells you if the camera is level whether the camera is in the 'horizontal' or 'vertical' position. You can find one on Amzon for under £5 so it is a real bargain.
2. Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Tripod Head
You compose the image carefully adjusting the various elevations available to you and then as you let go of the handles, knobs or whatever is being used the camera dips a millimetre due to the heavy camera body and lens on the tripod.
If you want to have a tripod head that doesn't move after you have positioned the camera and to make very fine adjustments to then you really need to consider a geared camera head. It seems that all 'serious' landscape photographers use this.
3. Hoodman Professional 3.0 Screen Loupe
If like me you need glasses to read, checking the screen on the back of the camera after you have taken a shot is a nuisance. Recently I acquired a Hoodman Loupe that you place over the screen to view it. This has two advantages. Firstly, it has an eye piece that you can adjust to your eye (+/- 3 dioptre), so you can view the screen without glasses. Secondly, as it fits over the screen, all ambient light is eliminated. This is especially useful in bright conditions, useful even if you don't need glasses. The loupe is protected by rubber and therefore quite robust out in the field.
So, most importantly I can view my composition, histogram and above all check that focus is correct. No more soft images!
4. Lee Filters Circular Polarizer
My most indispensible and versatile filter is my Lee Filters Circular Polarizer. There are four main advantages that are all contained within the use of this filter. It cuts reflections from sea, rivers and wet surfaces, it darkens the blues in skies therefore separating the clouds and making them stand out, it cuts out some atmospheric haze, and lastly serves as a neutral density filter prolonging exposure by up to two stops. It can be used for increasing saturation across the field view (if correctly placed) popping your clouds out from the sky and creating deeper colours. It does this my filtering reflected light. This very feature also brings the ability to remove reflections allows you to see into water and remove some highlights when shooting close ups of flowers and foliage.
A polarizer will cut the light entering into the camera by up to 2 stops. Thus, it can be used as a neutral density filter, forcing a slower shutter speed and giving you access to 'slowing' down movement and creative images.
5. Remote release - infra red shutter control
Landscape photography or indeed close up and macro demands small apertures. This in turn forces you to use slower shutter speeds. Regardless of the VR capabilities of modern lens, your camera mounted on a tripod will benefit. Using a remote release will eliminate the risk of camera shake and the consequences in your images - softness or blurring. The remote release I use can be used wirelessly (via infra-red) or wired.
These are my favourite, if not indispensable, camera accessories when setting out in the field and pursuing my love of photography.
© Michael Pilkington