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Have you ever hiked hours into the bush only to discover that you’ve left your tripod clip on your other camera? I confess I’ve done this and much worse. Many a choice swear word has been heard echoing in the valleys by all manner of wildlife. It’s a good thing there are no parrots where I go hiking.
I’ll admit I’m not the tidiest person, but when it comes to my camera bags, I now pack them with a microscopic fastidiousness that you’d expect from the likes of Hannibal Lector.
I’ve learned the hard way that packing everything I need for a particular shooting environment will almost guarantee success – weather permitting of course.
Let me share with you the essential gear that I usually pack into my camera bag. I think you’ll find it contains a few essential accessories you may not have considered before. I actually use three different bags for different occasions. I’ll use my largest bag for short hikes where I expect to be spending a lot of time shooting. I also use that large bag when I’m traveling internationally because I need to have ALL my stuff.
If I’m planning on a large hike, I’ll actually use a medium sized bag that I strip down to the bare essentials. There’s no point dragging your entire kit list on a grueling 10 hour hike. In those cases you’ve really got to stop and think about exactly what you’re likely to need. Water is usually the most important. This bag is used for longer hikes and has a stripped down version of the big bag. I use a Case Logic bag which is about half the size of the giant camera bag show above. My medium sized bag weighs next to nothing empty and can fit most of the essentials needed for landscape photography.
When you can get away with only the minimum of gear, this bag will save your back and shoulders. This is my standard night photography bag. To be honest it’s nothing special, not even waterfproof but I never take it out in the rain anyway.
Many years ago I hiked nine kilometres around Uluru (Ayers Rock) in scorching heat with only one little bottle of water. Not the smartest thing to do, but having learned that hard lesson, it’s absolutely vital that you plan according to your environment. Desert photography requires a different kit list to arctic photography. It’s not just about what you pack into your camera bag but also the smaller things that you carry in your pockets. Water, food, gloves, phones and ideally a SAT phone are all things that need to be considered if you plan on staying alive and getting amazing photographs when you’re out in the wilderness.
Whether it’s flash kits, ropes or umbrellas, I’d love to know what other essential accessories you’d bring on a landscape photography shoot.