The Essential Accessories for Wildlife Photographers
Wildlife photographers often find themselves in a variety of different shooting situations. Sometimes we may need to improvise, whether it be supporting a camera without a tripod or fixing a broken camera strap. This becomes very difficult if you haven’t put some extra handy items in your camera bag. This article will run you through what extra little accessories could make all the difference.
Camera Bag Rain Cover
Nature photographers often find themselves a little too familiar with rain, and it usually comes unexpectedly. Cameras don’t mix well with water, and being unprepared can result in wet equipment if you’re far from shelter. Getting yourself an elastic rain cover is cheap, but could also be a lifesaver. Few camera bags are 100% waterproof.
Sensor Cleaning Kit
Sensor spots can crop up at any time, and they always choose the most obvious place to be positioned. Carrying some cleaning swabs for your sensor only take up a little space, but they can quickly clean up those annoying black spots. Visible Dust produce some excellent cleaning kits which are small and lightweight. Their products vary for different needs, so be sure to get the right swabs for your sensor size.
Lens Cleaning Cloths
It is more than likely that you will get something on the glass of the lens every now and then. Rubbing the glass with your t-shirt is never a great idea. Pack yourself some dedicated Zeiss Lens Wipes. Seal them in individual plastic bags to keep them dry and dust-free.
The best photo opportunities usually come unexpectedly, and sometimes a tripod or monopod isn’t appropriate. Pack a bean bag to support your camera; they’re quick and easy to use. If you use big telephotos especially, it is unlikely this will fit in your camera bag. It may be more useful to keep in the glovebox of your car, as it will make it easier to rest a lens on the window when you spot something from the car.
Ultra-violet filters are pretty much redundant nowadays, but they are useful for protecting the glass of your lens. In fact, the high-end telephotos come with one already attached. If you kick up a stone into the lens, for example, it’ll hit the cheaper glass rather than the expensive lens. Remember to get something high quality so you don’t reduce image sharpness. Hoya make great quality UV filters which are popular amongst photographers.
Hex Keys (a.k.a Allen Keys)
It may sound an odd thing for a photographer to pack, but I have found myself in need of hex keys numerous times. Tripods and lens footings both use screws which require hex keys, and if they come loose when you’re away from a toolkit it can be very problematic. Slip one into a pocket in your bag for when you need it most.
For the Adventurous
If you regularly find yourself out in the wild, then make sure you have these items in your backpack.
There are many advantages to carrying a penknife with you. The most useful tool it contains, in my opinion, is the screwdriver. Tripod-mounting plates always come loose, and they are impossible to tighten sufficiently without something metal. Heavy camera equipment tends to slowly unscrew from the plate if you are moving around a lot. You don’t need a big substantial knife, just something small will suffice. Of course, they also come with other tools which may come in handy.
There are many to choose from, but this penknife will do the job. It’s inexpensive, and will be invaluable when the time comes.
There are countless situations where you may need to string something up or fix a broken item. Paracord has endless uses, and it can never hurt to have some stuffed in a side pocket. You can burn the ends with a lighter to seal the threads together so it doesn’t come apart.
The best times to photograph wildlife are mostly dawn and dusk. This means we wildlife photographers are regularly out in the dark, so a pocket-sized flashlight is invaluable. Stumbling through the dark trying to find your way back whilst lumbering camera equipment around is never fun. Something like an LED Lenser is ideal.
Map & Compass
If you’re really going off the beaten track, then you must take a compass and a map with you. If you get lost, this will allow you to find a bearing to get back to safety. In the United Kingdom, the best maps are Ordnance Survey Maps. They are highly detailed and available for all areas around the country.
You need to be able to take a bearing from a map, so you will need to buy a compass such as this one or something similar.