This list assumes that you are an outdoor photographer who will often walk a fair distance to take photographs. In which case you need to be well equipped. So just for fun and a fairly quick post, I have compiled this list. These are in no particular order, just useful things that many people forget and not including the obvious things like – your camera and lenses!!!
1. A sun compass – How often have you been caught out, not knowing where the sun rises and falls at either end of the day. A sun compass combines not only a compass but also a very handy tool that enables you to calculate the sun positions throughout the year.
2. Map – It goes without saying, that unless you know a location well, you should never leave home without a map. Study your map well before setting out to make sure you know how to reach your location and return safely later. Why not use the sun compass in conjunction with your map to pre-visualise how a location will look at a given time of day, season or year. This can save you time an the frustration of visiting a locaton when the time and conditions just aren’t right.
3. A Torch – If you are going on a late shoot, it is very easy to forget that you may have a fair old walk back to the car. You may be able to see fairly well as the sun sets and enough to pack your camera away on location. However as soon as you start to head back to the car, night falls and you can no longer see where you are going! Any torch will be good, a head torch even better as you can keep your hands free. One final thing, it may sound obvious, please make sure the torch is fully charged up before you set out. I have in the past been caught out by dead batteries.
4. A coin – If you keep your quick release plate permanently fixed to the base of your camera, it is worth carrying a coin in your kit bag. I often need to move my plate from the base of my camera body to the brackets that support my longer telephoto lenses. Many quick release plates for tripods have a slot requiring insertion of a coin to twist and loosen them up.A real annoyance if you don’t carry any change with you.
5. 2x converter – I am trying to compile this list without actually referring to the obvious, camera or lens words! Whoops just failed there! A converter of any kind is very useful for one very obvious reason, it doubles up the focal length of your lenses. Secondly and perhaps not so obvious, does make it possible to lighten the load that you are carrying. Do you really need to take that 400mm or 500mm lens, when you can take the 200mm and a converter. This weighs a great deal less although at the cost of aperture (i.e A f2.8 lens becomes a f5.6, a f6.3 becomes a f12.6 and so on).
6. Spare memory cards – You may need more than just one depending on how many pictures you take on a shoot. Additionally there are occasions when cards fail and there can be nothing worse than having walked some distance to realise that your storage device has let you down by turning up it’s toes and dying!
7. Cleaning cloth – Whilst it always makes sense to wipe your lenses with a cloth to keep them dust free. Some locations really do call for such things to be carried. Coastal locations are not the best for cameras, as sand, sea spray are constantly being blasted around. Use your cloth to keep your gear clean and free from damage.
8. Food & Water – I always carry a bottle of water with me to stay hydrated, refreshed and free from thirst. You can buy pouches that attach to your camera bag to carry bottles in such as the Sliplock range that are sold by Lowepro for use with their camera bag range.
9. Reflector – If you are planning on taking detail shots using a macro lens, a small reflector is worth carrying. They take up no space and weigh absolutely nothing at all. They are very handy for bouncing some light back onto the subject which can really help lift a subject that is in a shaded spot. They work really well when photographing wildflowers out in the fied.
10. Spare batteries – You never know when the batteries you are using will flake out. Always carry spares!
I always carry most of these things with me… What do you keep in your camera bag alongside your main gear?