One thing I always take on a photography trip…
7th May 2019
It takes more than a camera and tripod to make a landscape photography trip go smoothly. Here, 14 photographers, including Sue Bishop, Art Wolfe and Peter Hendrie, discuss the lucky charms, handy tools and quirky items they take on any photographic expedition, from Japanese amulets to gummy bears…
I really like my Bose Bluetooth headphones connected to one of my Spotify playlists. It's really important for me to listen to music and have sort of a dreamy headspace when taking photos. Separating what you see from what you hear helps me to create a more cinematic photo experience.
My camera bag, which is usually my backpack (as many of my landscape shoots involve long mountain treks or overnights), has had an omamori in it for years. Omamori are Japanese amulets you can get at Shinto shrines in Japan, used for protection or good luck from evil spirits. The Japanese often give them to those going on a trip as a bit of well-wishing for the journey, and a friend there once gave me several, which have survived years of travel.
I’m not much of a believer in superstition, but as I seem to travel under a lucky star and don’t have many things go wrong, I’ve made sure to continue to bring them along.
Dave Bouskill (The Planet D)
Something I never leave home without when heading out for a night of photography is my lucky Australian coin to take the plate for my tripod off of my camera or to tighten it when needed.
I can't carry a screwdriver or Leatherman on planes. I’m always changing from my black rapid shoulder strap when walking around to mounting my camera on my tripod when stopping for a landscape shot, and this works great to tighten any loose screws.
I do a lot of backcountry hiking and adventure photography that often involves long hikes and late nights. I find that the best photos are often where most people don't, or won't, venture. One thing, I always have in my camera bag is a Red Bull energy drink. Having this in my kit is reassurance I will have the energy to get the job done, whether that is staying up late in the night shooting the Milky Way, or finishing the last few miles of that big hike.
The other thing that I usually pack, for the same reason, is a a Snickers bar.
I always take some lens cleaning wipes for my glasses. In rain or seaspray, I usually manage to keep my camera lens dry with a combination of a lens hood and a camera rain cover, but my glasses get wet or salty and then I can't see a thing, which for landscape photography is, of course, essential. So lens wipes are a must for me.
Whenever I can, I bring a French press and a pound of coffee anytime I travel on a photography expedition. I also bring tabasco and gummy bears. If I am going on a really long trip, when I really need my comfort food, gummy bears, coffee and Tabasco get me through.
I feel at home near the ocean, so it’s not surprising that the vast majority of my photos are seascapes. I always keep a pair of quick-dry board shorts and neoprene fishing waders in my car for when I’m out on location. You often need to get wet when capturing seascapes, so that covers me all year round.
I carry a Swiss Army Knife in my backpack. It’s surprising how many situations arise where the knife, scissors or other tools come in handy, whether it’s pieces of rope, twine or cord that need cutting or to help prepare food. Every now and then, a screw needs tightening or removing, or a piece of gear needs a bit fixing or adjusting.
Most important of all, perhaps, is the corkscrew. If someone has a bottle of wine handy, whether out in the mountains, by a lake or just back at the hotel after a long day of photography, it’d be a crime not to have anything to open it with.
Gary Arndt (Everything Everywhere)
The one thing I always bring with me on a trip is a bubble level, which fits in the hot shoe of my camera. As I seldom use a flash, that space usually goes empty. By putting a small level there, I can always be sure that my camera is level when I'm setting up to do a landscape shot.
They are very cheap, with most costing under $10 (£7)on Amazon.
I travel frequently alone to remote locations where cell reception is often non-existent, so I always carry my Spot Gen3 device. It can send emergency responders my GPS location should I get into real trouble.
It also has a ‘continuous tracking’ feature that allows my family to see where I am at any given moment via the Internet, giving them some peace of mind as I tromp through the wilderness.
If it’s first thing in the morning, a flask of tea is a must. I need something to look forward to as I’m huffing and puffing up hills. If I’m on a hike, I try to carry as light a load as possible.
One other thing I always take is my loupe for the LCD screen on my camera. It’s easy to miss things, especially in bright light, and I find it essential for checking the shot.
Long lonely treks with heavy kit in search of images invariably involve tired wee legs, so we need to stop now and then, sit down and take it all in while we catch our breath. By the gurgling summer stream or sheltered behind the frozen mountain rocks, we contemplate how far we have travelled and how much farther we might go on.
At this point I'll reach into my camera bag and retrieve a few trusty Maoam, lovely burst of tangy sweet flavour (Cola is my favourite) that livens up a dry mouth and give you a wee energy kick to carry on your way.
The item I always make sure I have in my camera bag when I head out is at least one of my homemade fruit and almond oat bars. Previously, I would take some chocolate bars with me. However, I discovered a recipe for these bars in a running magazine and have been making them since.
Like so many of us these days, we are creatures of habit and when in some remote corner of the globe, even us photographers miss some of those home comforts that we take for granted day on day.
Mine has to be coffee, especially Espresso. The craving, or addiction, for a good coffee that can be sadly missing if using a conventional flask is so great, so for all those coffeeholics out there, help is at hand.
Minipresso from Wacaco is a great little device that serves fresh Espresso the way you love it, wherever you go. At 350 grams and 175mm in length, whichever corner of the globe I might find myself in, there is always room in my backpack for my Minipresso NS.
I rarely leave for a photography trip without a couple of music CDs to play on my drive to and from my destination. Something for the outward journey that moves me, opening my heart and imagination to help get me in ‘the zone’, perhaps some Eva Cassidy or some operatic arias.
For the return journey, it would be something more uplifting to hopefully celebrate a great outdoor experience, maybe The War On Drugs or Natalie Merchant.
Photos in descending order:
Art Wolfe portrait by Christopher Lund (top)
Guangxi Province, China by Trey Ratcliff
Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA by Dave Stamboulis
Dave Bouskill (The Planet D)
Ord River Delta, Western Australia by Art Wolfe
Woman in Colca Canyon, Peru by Graeme Green
Tree in Loch Chon, Scotland by Damian Shields
The Quiraing, Isle of Skye, Scotland by Nick Hanson
Cherry blossoms in Andalucia, Spain by Peter Hendrie