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Other Than Your Camera

You load up your gear and head out to take pictures in the great outdoors. Other than your camera, what else do you carry?

No matter what camera you own or how many you may lust over, no camera does everything by itself. Maybe you could argue that the mobile phone in your pocket can do it all, but that just means you aren't setting your sights very high. If you're serious about photography, you'll need a whole pile of gear. Most of us are shooting with interchangeable lens cameras, so obviously, you'll need at least one lens to mate with that camera to create an image. The whole point of interchangeable lens camera is that you can change lenses, so you'll probably find yourself carrying more than one lens on most outings. But that's just scratching the surface. Oh, and you'll probably want to bring along appropriate lens caps unless you want the surface of one of those lenses to end up scratched as well.

Then there are the filters, lens hoods, teleconverters, lens cleaning supplies, and so on. The exact list will vary based on the subject matter you expect to be shooting, as well as on how far you have to carry all this stuff. That probably means a camera bag to hold it all. And hopefully, a tripod to ensure things stay stable while the shutter fires to justify lugging everything around with you on your travels. With only minimal effort, you'll probably come up with quite a list of camera equipment to carry around in your quest for the best images.

And let's not forget all the stuff needed to stay safe on a trip. If you plan to hike very far at all, you should carry a map and compass. That's one thing the phone in your pocket can do quite well. Even in the middle of the wilderness, GPS signals can guide you if you have a map to plot them on. I maintain downloaded maps on my phone for nearby national parks and areas of interest. You'll also want to carry adequate food and water, and clothing appropriate for the weather. No doubt you've heard this sort of advice before, but you'll hopefully allow my reminder here given the potential seriousness of the topic.

I've noticed over the years that I typically carry more than I end up needing. Whether we're talking about camera gear or warm clothes, I'd rather have too much than not enough. Sometimes, when I get back from a trip, I realize just how much never got taken out and used and find myself feeling a bit foolish. Maybe I didn't plan things well enough, or maybe things just didn't turn out as I expected despite all my planning. Perhaps sometimes it just turned out that as the luck of the draw. Regardless, with each new trip, I take stock of what I might bring, and I do my best to pack accordingly.

But beyond all the material things that go into our camera bags and our pockets, we carry other things with us, too, when we go out shooting.

We carry our hopes and dreams for what we think awaits us. Whatever lenses and filters, tubes of sunscreen and sack lunches we pack are no doubt intended for the occasion and circumstances. So, we must have some idea of what we're getting ourselves into, or at least we'd like to think we do. We carry that with us into the field, too. And it can be disappointing when those dreams wind up unfulfilled. Laser-focused on what we came for, we run the risk of missing what is right in front of us. In my experience, it's best to prepare as much as possible, but then to let it all go once you get there. Hopes and dreams become impediments if reality turns out otherwise in the field. Wildflowers don't always bloom when you want them too. Sometimes, the season comes later than usual. Sometimes, it comes early.

We bring our knowledge and experience, hoping to take everything we've learned and build on it to get even better images than the last trip. If you find yourself stumped by something one time, try to work out a solution once you get home. That answer may come too late to get the shot one trip, but you may find yourself with another opportunity next time out. Hopefully, we're all learning and growing. I don't mind taking as much of this kind of stuff on a trip as I can. Thankfully, all that accumulated expertise doesn't take up much room in your camera bag, nor does it weigh down your back. I appreciate that.

I've been thinking a lot lately about everything it takes to be successful at this thing we do. There's a lot more to it than just owning a camera.

Date posted: May 10, 2020


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