Top 10 items I often carry in my bag…
While it’s common to be asked “What’s in your camera bag?” in terms of what cameras and lenses I’m using there is a whole other side of what’s in my bag that can be and often is quite valuable to have. Like a good boy scout you want to be prepared.
Let’s check out my list:
1) Memory cards – You would be surprised how many people I have met on workshops that suddenly run out of memory in their camera. Memory cards have to be the cheapest item you’ll ever use in photography yet seem to be the one item people skimp on. I own more than 500GB worth of cards that I use on extended trips allowing me to ensure I have adequate backup of all my images.
2) Filters – I carry one, my trusty Polarizer. Occasionally I’ll bring along a graduated split neutral density filter, otherwise it’s just the Polarizer I take. Using the polarizer will reduce haze in day light pictures and bring out a nice blue sky.
3) Gaffer Tape – This strong cloth tape is very adhesive yet leaves no sticky residue behind when pulled off later. Gaffer tape comes from the movie industry. It’s used to secure cables etc. to the floor or support poles, etc. reducing trip hazards. Gaffer tape can be easily torn in either direction so a 1″ roll can be torn into narrower strips if necessary.
I use Gaffer Tape primarily on my cameras and lenses to prevent switches and dials from being changed inadvertently. I’ve also used Gaffer Tape to fix my broken tripod to hold it together while on a shoot. I purchase a big roll of tape and re-roll it into small bundles that I can keep a few feet of it available at all times in each of my camera bags.
4) Elastic Bands – Very handy to have to hold cables together for packing, secure items to poles, brackets, etc. Not as useful as Gaffer Tape but I still like to have them handy. I’ll keep a dozen or so available in each bag.
5) Velcro – I like to have a couple strips of velcro handy in my bag. I’ve used velcro on my flashes to hold on accessories, or on my tripod to hold my remote camera timer security onto the tripod.
6) iPhone Compass – A compass comes in handy occasionally to determine where the sun will rise or set at a certain location during the year; or to figure out just where you are when you come out of a subway at a location. I’ve often used the The Photographers Ephemeris (TPE) app on my iPhone to help with sunsets/sunrises.
7) Head Lamp – A simple LED head lamp or flashlight comes in handy to see in the dark. A small simple one packed away in the bag is all that is required. I personally prefer a head lamp over a flash light as it allows me to operate hands free.
8) Multi-tool – Knife, screwdriver, file, cork screw, etc. Never know when one of these comes in handy.
9) GPS – When out hiking I’ll mark my starting location so I can track back to my vehicle if I need to. Also GPS data for geotagging is available as well.
10) Garmin InReach – When I’m hiking into the bush away from cell signal I always carry my InReach messenger. This device allows me to send a message to family & friends to let them know I’m ok when I’m out of cell phone range. It also has two separate buttons for help. One is “I need help but it isn’t an emergency!”. This message goes to family & friends and they can get to me for help. It might be a flat tire on a deserted road somewhere, etc. The other button is an “SOS” button that goes directly to Search & Rescue Coordination and bypasses family & friends. This will result in immediate help coming my way.
11) Spare batteries -Need I say more? But you’d be surprised just when that opportunity pops up when the flash or camera goes dead. For me it’s essential I make sure the GPS and InReach are fully charged and ready to go.