I’m of the belief that the only things you need to create beautiful landscape photography are light, a camera, a lens, and the knowledge to put it all together. But there are some incredible tools available you might consider adding to your bag if you plan to do a lot of landscape photography. So, while all you really need may be a camera and a wide-angle lens, I’m sharing my top five must-have tools, because having the right gear can make capturing your vision so much easier.

1. A comfortable backpack

I’ve carried every imaginable version of bag into the field and the one style I always return to is a backpack. I need something that can hold an arsenal of landscape photography gear while also offering comfort for all-day shooting. My go-to backpack, the Mindshift Trailscape 18L, is roomy, durable and water resistant with water bottle pockets to keep me hydrated while out on a shoot.

Prayer flags hung on a snow-covered snowshoe trail in the Canadian Rockies.
Prayer flags hung on a snow-covered snowshoe trail in the Canadian Rockies.

2. A sturdy tripod

As a backpacker, size and weight are the most important things to me when choosing a tripod. During a 17-day backpacking trip, the last thing I want to be carrying is a 5-pound tripod. I do want to be sure that the tripod is able to support the full weight of my camera with my heaviest lens, and that it offers easy to adjust columns for quick changes during shooting. I use a Sirui Carbon Fiber Tripod to keep my weight down while maintaining sturdiness and reliability. When shopping for a tripod, always check the weight of your camera body with the heaviest lens against the load capacity of the tripod.

The Milky Way over Pisciadu Hutte, landscape photography taken with long exposure
The Milky Way over Pisciadu Hutte

3. Lens-cleaning materials

There’s nothing worse than being out on a shoot and dealing with dirty gear. As tempting as it may be to use your sleeve, lens wipes, microfiber cloths, an air blower and a soft brush are essential tools to carry in your bag. While you’re filling your shopping cart, you might also consider adding a camera cover for those days when rain is threatening or you’re shooting on a windy beach.

black and white landscape photography of Buxton Beach, VA
Buxton Beach, Virginia
Landscape photography image of a fisherman on beach at sunrise
Sunrise at a Frisco beach

4. Long exposure tools

Neutral density (ND) Filters are essential tools when shooting moving water. Whether oceanside under a pier or below a towering waterfall, ND filters allow you to slow your shutter speed down and create a beautiful silky effect to the water. While it is possible to use slow shutter speeds at certain times of day, having ND filters will allow you more flexibility for the timing of your photos and will also allow you to use slower shutter speeds than you can without them.

Another helpful tool for long exposure work is a wireless shutter release. It’s entirely possible to use the self-timer on your camera, but this is a slow and tedious process that could still result in shaky images. By using a wireless shutter release, you are able to create the exposure without ever touching the camera.

long exposure landscape photography image at Soco Falls, NC
Soco Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
landscape photography long exposure at Avon pier
Long exposure image at Avon Pier

5. The Photographer’s Ephemeris phone app

The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) is an incredibly helpful mobile app that accurately tells you when and where the sun and moon will rise and set from a given location. This app is helpful both in the field and during the pre-planning stages when you’re selecting locations and times for your landscape photography shoot.

Jennifer’s Landscape Photography Gear

Adding these simple tools to your collection will help you successfully execute your next landscape photography shoot. But don’t let a lack of gear hold you back! Get out there and shoot with what you have! You can add to your landscape gear collection over time, which will also help you figure out the tools that are right for you. Let me know where your next adventure will take you!

All photos by Jennifer Carr.

Can’t get enough landscape photography? Check out the Surprising secret to dramatic landscape photography.