The joy of photography is that it allows you to see things in a different way. Behind the lens we each have the opportunity to create a different picture based on our individual perspectives and view of the world. Everyone deserves a voice and it is this collection of voice and perspective that allows for the diversity of the world to be showcased and for humanity to appreciate a greater understanding of this incredible reality we live in.
In my job at the Londolozi Studio I see many people come through the doors each day with varying levels of skill, equipment, knowledge and experience. Yet the one thing that each of them has is a lens through which they view the world. What many of them require in order to share this perspective is a few small tweaks and additions to how they go about capturing their photographs in order to take them from good to great.
One of the biggest challenges I see is that many new photographers do not know what some of the essentials are to include in their camera bag when going out to capture images. Here then are my top 8 must-have items to include in your camera bag whether you are new or experienced:
1.Blower and Lens Brush
Being in the bush and constantly on the move, your lens is prone to dust build up. So be sure to have a blower and lens brush in your bag at all times. The blower takes away the more superficial dust layer while the brush will gently remove the slightly more stubborn particles. These items are particularly important in winter, when the lack of rain results in a big dust-build up through the dryer months.
2. Zeiss Lens Wipes
Though they are damp, they do not leave streaks across your lens; these little pocket wipes are ideal for quickly cleaning your lens on the move. When cleaning your lens, make sure you use the blower and lens brush before you use these wipes to avoid the dust scratching your lens.
3. Extra Fully charged batteries
You should have at least one extra battery for each camera body. Even though having two bodies will help you save battery, the last thing you need is to run out of battery whilst a leopard is jumping out of a Marula Tree! Try to remember to recharge after each game drive.
4. Extra empty memory cards
When you are in a sighting an animal can go from being completely stationary to very active within the space of one minute. It is always handy to have extra memory cards with you in case yours fills up.
I’ve found it better to have more cards with less capacity than only one or two with greater capacity; a 128GB card is all very well, but if it is full and goes on the brink, you could lose a lot of photos. A few 16GB cards are usually more than enough, and although you may be downloading more frequently, you avoid the risk of a bulk loss of photos, and cataloguing will be easier.
5. Light-Weight Tripod
A lightweight tripod will always come in handy on a summer safari. A
A tripod can greatly expand the types of photography you can get into. Landscape and night photograph in particular, should never be attempted without a tripod; they simply won’t work.
The night sky of winter is particularly breathtaking at Londolozi, but forget trying to photograph it without decent stability.
You never know when you might need this to tighten lens screws or do any other DIY job while out on Safari. Extra handy when you need to cut the limes for the G&Ts…
7. Rain Protector
The summer time in the Sabi Sands is the time for rain. This can be both a blessing, for the land and animals, but a curse for a photographer when you do not have something to protect your expensive gear. Having a pelican case is also a great option as they are hardy and no chance of rain getting onto your gear, but may not be big enough to fit in all your gear, and can be very heavy.
A lightweight protector like the one below will protect your camera bag from all but the most torrential summer downpours.
8. Head Torch
Having a head torch close to hand is essential, as you may find that you need to adjust a setting on your camera but you cannot see. Rummaging around in your kit bag after dark can be frustrating if you’re fumbling for your spare battery or memory card but can’t remember which pocket you left it in, and one of the most useful times you’ll have for a torch is when disembarking from the safari vehicle at the end of your evening safari and trying to make sure you’ve got all your bits and bobs.
One of those won’t-always-need-it-but-when-you-do-you’ll-need-it-badly things, far rather have a torch with you than don’t.
These are the 8 things that people often overlook and forget to put into their camera bags. These are just a few, and can be accompanied by many more.
What would you have that I have not mentioned?