Photo Tip Monday - February 17th - Ld

Photo Tip Monday - February 17th

Monday again already? I'm never really sure how it happens; where does the weekend go?

Today Twin Citians woke up to a winter storm warning (but how is that different from any other Monday?). I want to take a moment to say thank-you to all those who didn't have to work today for staying off the roads because my normal 30 minute commute actually only took 45 minutes! Not bad! Last time it snow liked this during a morning commute (literally only two weeks ago) it took me two hours. 

But I digress.

That picture really has nothing to do with today's final post of our 5 step series. I am just dreaming of spring!

No, today's post has nothing to do with taking pictures even. Well, not directly anyway. Today's post has to do with equipment. Yes. Equipment. And tools. Now hear me out. I'm not going to try and sell you anything. I'm not even saying that you HAVE to go out and buy any of these things in order to get a great shot, because I don't believe that for a second. These are simply things that I have found useful when photographing nature that I thought might be useful for you to know about.

To quickly recap - here are the previous four entries of tips to set up a great nature photograph:

1. Pay attention to your light source

2. Check. That. Horizon! (I feel like I'm hosting a game show when I say that in my head)

3. Watch for unwanted objects

4. "What do I want in my photograph?"

And......drumroll.......number 5 is......

5. Helpful Tools and Equipment (besides your camera)

Let me quickly back-track by repeating the statement that I don't believe you HAVE to have all these items to get a great shot. These are all items that I either have because I learned a lesson the hard way or because I think they make photographing that much easier and my photos a little bit better.

To make sure this post doesn't turn into an E-book, I'm going to be pretty brief with my descriptions on these tools and equipment. It is my goal eventually to go into deeper detail in future posts about some of these items. However, if you have any specific questions on any of these items, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Also, I have posted links to some of the items below. I do not get compensated for any of these things; I simply wanted to make it easier for you to find them if you wanted more information.

Let me start with one item that is not pictured.

1. Tripod

A tripod is a very useful tool when taking photographs, especially in nature. They help reduce any movement to help you get a sharper photo. I use them mostly for macro, long distance shooting, and low light shooting such as during a sunrise or sunset. There are all sorts of tripods on the market. has a plethora for sale, but you can get them in a variety of stores. They can range from large tripods that stand 6+ feet tall to small tripods (table-top tripods) that are 1 foot tall.

2. Camera Bag & Water-proof Cover

I love my camera bag. It fits my camera and two of my lenses. It also can be turned into a backpack which is perfect for me when hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, etc. It also has smaller compartments for all the items pictured. I would recommend getting a bag to protect your camera, and also one that is comfortable if you have to carry it long distances.

My bag came with a water-proof cover, although it is probably more like water resistant. I have used it a number of times when I have been caught out in the rain. I wrap my camera in it and then put it in the bag which is also water resistant. If you are worried about your camera getting wet, a plastic bag or a ziploc bag would also work, depending on your camera size. 

3. Chapstick

Not too much explanation is needed. My lips get chapped out in the field! Gotta have my Burt's. If you're going to be out in the field, make sure you have some chapstick!

4. Paper & Pencil

I find it is useful to have a pen/pencil and some paper in my camera bag. Why? I often will write down notes I want to remember about a specific spot, things I saw, the name of the flower (or tree or bird, etc) that I photographed and then identified in my guide book (also not pictured).

5. Cloth lens/Micro-fiber Cleaning Cloths

I will admit I have my husband to thank for this one. A micro-fiber cloth is a cloth made with the purpose of cleaning sensitive surfaces such as your camera lens, viewfinder, and/or screen. If you use a regular cloth, you run the risk of scratching these surfaces which could alter your photographs, especially if on the lens. These cloths are perfect for removing spots, dust and more from distracting you from your picture. One of my cloths also doubles as a lens bag which I use as an added protection to my lens in the camera bag. You can find these cloths at most stores such as Target, Walgreens, etc. 

6. Lens Pen Cleaning Tool

This tool is similar to the micro-fiber cleaning cloths in that it is made specially for cleaning sensitive surfaces. On one end, you have a brush to get rid of dirt and dust. On the other end is a felt cleaning tool which helps removes and water spots or other spots. Click here to learn more about the tool.

7. Extra SD Card

I actually have three of these cards. Yep. Three. Why three, you ask? Because I may or may not have been in a situation where my husband and I drove up to a Minnesota state park an hour and a half away and when I went to take a picture I realized I didn't have a SD card (memory card) in my camera. If you take a lot of pictures, or go a long time between transferring your pictures from your memory card to your computer, I would recommend having two memory cards for your pictures. You never know when you may be an hour and a half away and realize you forgot your card in the computer at home. Or that your card is full. Luckily there was a Target nearby. Lesson learned.

8. Extra Battery

Yes, I have two batteries. This came as a result of going on a week long camping trip to Grand Teton National Park with no access to an outlet to charge my one battery. But you know what? I have NEVER regretted having two. Have you ever grabbed your camera to capture something only to realize your battery is dead? No? Me either. Luckily I had a second CHARGED battery.

9. Lens Cap & Extra Lens

I have three lenses; one standard, a telephoto lens (for long distance shooting) and a low-light lens. I use my standard lens and my telephoto lens most often. I love my lenses and enjoy playing around with them, but as I have mentioned, I don't think you need a fancy DSLR with a number of different lenses to take a great photograph. My first 'real' camera was a Kodak point and shoot and I took this picture with it:

This week's takeaway:

-Certain tools and equipment can really make your photography life easier and ensure that you will be able to capture your subject

-Two SD cards (memory cards) can save you in a pinch

-Two batteries (make sure they're charged) can also save you in a pinch

-Tripods are great tools for helping to create a super-sharp photo

What is your favorite piece of photography equipment that you use besides your camera? 

What other equipment or tools would you add to this list?

Happy Photographing!

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