All photographers know about the traditional accessories that come in useful at times when you are photographing outdoors. But there are also items that come in useful that you have probably never thought about. These are things that you only find out through experience and can become invaluable items in your camera bag. So here are 8 useful items that you should think about including in your equipment list.
1 – Plastic bag and rubber band
A good old fashioned plastic bag and a rubber band can keep your camera dry and save you a lot of money. Creating a simple cover using these household items is far cheaper than purchasing a camera cover. Take an ordinary plastic bag and cut a hole in one end wide enough for your lens (and lens hood) to fit through. Then simply pop your lens through the hole and put a rubber band around the bag near the hole to keep it in place. Vola, you have a waterproof camera cover for those unexpected downpours. Not only is this much cheaper than purchasing a cover but you can feel good knowing that you are putting those plastic bags to good use.
2 – A face towel
A small towel can be such a useful accessory to keep. Besides the obvious use of being able to wipe your face when you have been out and about all day sweating, it can also come to your camera’s aid. I once dropped my camera into a puddle of mud. Luckily I had a towel in my camera bag that I was able to use to clean my camera to continue shooting. Without it, my only other option would have been to use my lens cloths (ruining them forever) or head back to my hotel. You’ll be amazed by how many times you will use a towel that you have with you. Sometimes even to wipe a wet bench to sit on.
3 – Piece of cardboard
An A5 piece of cardboard is a useful addition if you are going to be photographing closeups in bright conditions. You can use the cardboard to block areas where the light is too harsh. For example, if you are taking a closeup shot of a flower you may find that the light on one side is too bright. You can hold up your piece of cardboard to block the light on that side. Thus creating a more even light across your subject. This can also work when photographing food and portraits.
4 – Compass
In this day and age when everyone has smartphones, a compass seems like a pointless accessory to have. But every now and again you may find that having one can be really useful. Unlike smartphones, compasses don’t need a signal or power to run. Two things that are sometimes not there when you need it most. Not only does a compass help you find your way but it can also show you the direction of the light throughout the day.
5 – A white t-shirt
When you are out and about shooting street scenes, especially portraits, it is very rarely convenient to carry a reflector with you. A really useful trick to know is to wear a white top. Doing so will mean that you will find yourself becoming the reflector. This technique is particularly useful when shooting backlit subjects as the sun will bounce off you and illuminate your subject. This will ensure that you get an even light across your subject’s face and so it will not be underexposed against the bright backlit background.
6 – Pen and paper
Again this is something that has sort of been replaced by smartphones, but actually often a pen and paper can be really useful. Not only can you use it to jot down important information like locations, directions and even contact details. But it allows you to sketch out ideas about a potential shoot. The other benefit of a pen and paper is that it is far less attractive to thieves than an expensive smartphone.
7 – Sandbag
Sandbags are really useful additions to your camera equipment. In fact, in some instances, they are essential in allowing you to capture the photo that you want to take. For example, if you are photographing something from above using the extendable centre column of your tripod, you will need a sandbag to act as a counterweight. Without this weight, your camera and tripod would fall over.
The other benefit of a sandbag is that you can use it to place your camera on top of on uneven surfaces. This is especially useful when photographing out of a car window for example. By placing a sandbag, you will be able to rest your camera on the frame of your car window for more control. If you are going to be using a sandbag for the purpose of resting your camera on, a good trick is to fill the bag with foam balls rather than sand. It will make the bag far lighter to carry around and in your luggage. But if you are going to be using a sandbag to weigh your tripod down you still need to use sand.
8 – A frosted container
If you someone who uses a flash a lot, you will probably already own a diffuser that connects to your flash. But if you don’t own one or find yourself in a situation where you need to get one quickly, a frosted plastic container can replicate the same effect. Try to find a container like a bottle which is roughly the same size as your flash. Then simply cut the bottle so that you only have the bottom part (like a small pot). You can then place this over your flash to create a diffuser. If the container is the same size it should stay on. If not you may have to use sticky tape to keep it in place.
These are just some of the useful photography items that you may not already be aware of. Over time you will build up your own list of invaluable photography equipment. But for now, you may find it useful to add these to your equipment.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.