Make your photographic life easier without spending a fortune. Tom Mason shows you how
When it comes to photography accessories some of the cheapest items can be lifesavers out in the field, helping you to overcome common problems and stay out shooting longer.
Below is a list of items you can buy for less than £25 in total. You really can’t afford NOT to have them with you!
1. Gaffer tape £4.00
Gaffer tape is perfect for holding focus rings in position
Every photographer should have a reel of this stuff in his or her bag. It is simply perfect for so many jobs. If you’ve ever needed to hold a reflector in place, stop a wired remote flapping in the wind, or stick down your studio light cables, gaffers tape is what you need.
Don’t confuse gaffer tape with duct tape. The former is a very strong adhesive, but is nowhere near as good due to its habit of leaving a large amount of residue when peeled it back off again. Gaffer tape, on the other hand, holds strong and when removed leaves very little trace, making it perfect for photographers who don’t want a load of messy sticky gear.
One of my favourite uses for it is holding my zoom and focus rings in place when setting up remote cameras, allowing me to make sure nothing moves and critical focus is maintained without sticking up my lens!
With so many uses, you will never want to leave home without it!
2. Cable ties – £2.00
Cable ties are perfect for awkward flash positions
Similar to the above, cable ties are such a handy addition to your photography bag. Ultra strong, they are useful for many things other than just keeping your cables tidy. Out in the field they can be joined together to make an ultra-strong binding for keeping pretty much anything anywhere. They’re very handy for positioning flashguns in awkward places where light stands don’t reach, or an impromptu rigging of a perch for your garden bird photography.
I always tend to buy the reusable versions, as not only does it mean you don’t have to keep buying new ones after a single use, but they also reduce the plastic waste and are more environmentally friendly.
Cable ties make it possible to put anything just about anywhere
3. Shower caps – £1 or free
Showercaps make the perfect cheap raincover for your gear
Sometimes it rains. Actually, a lot of the time it rains here in the UK, and being prepared as a photographer is essential.
If you don’t already have a rain cover you don’t need to spend a fortune to protect your camera from rain, dust and sand. Just grab a shower cap.
Those clear plastic elasticated hotel shower caps are simply excellent for covering up cameras and keeping the rain off at a moment’s notice. Being see-through, they also allow you to view your controls and the LCD when in use. Cheap, handy and perfect for the camera bag.
4. Folding step/stool – £6.00
If you are spending a long time on location, think about picking up a folding step or stool.
First off, of course, it’s great to have compact seat for those long waits for perfect light, conditions or events to unfold. Secondly they’re great for events when you want an elevated view. Strong and compact, they can be used to gain some height and shoot above crowds, or for gaining a new perspective on a tried and tested subject. Additionally, if you work with hard cases, combine them with a folding step to provide a great way of adding some height for a mobile desk/workstation so you can use your laptop off the ground and save all that bending down.
5. Rocket blower – £6.00
Cleaning tool, desk ornament, distraction toy… you all need a rocket blower!
With us photographers pushing our gear in tough conditions, it sometimes needs some tender loving care. One of the cheapest and best accessories you can get hold of for this is a rocket blower.
These cool little accessories blow filtered air out of a small nozzle, giving enough pressure to remove dust, sand and other residue from lenses and cameras. Additionally they can be used to give your sensor a quick clean to remove any surface dust between wet cleans. If that isn’t enough, they also look like a rocket and make a great desk ornament, paperweight or impromptu rocket toy for kids (or adults)!
6. Notebook and pen/pencil – £1.00
We photographers have a lot on our minds. So write it down!
Having a notebook and pen handy is great for those moments of inspiration, brief location notes, directions and place names you hear about on your travels.
I’m always using my notebook to draw out new photographic ideas I want to create, jot down notes about possible places to try for certain subjects, record details for my captions and keywords, or jot down phone numbers and emails of people who I meet when I’m out and about.
7. Memory card wallet – £5.00
Card wallets, perfect for keeping data safe and organised
If there is anything more important than your cameras and lenses, it has to be your data! Our images are our lives as photographers, and looking after them from shoot to studio is vital. An easy way to make sure none of those SD, CF, XQD or Micro SDs go missing is get a card wallet. These come in a range of sizes, protecting anywhere from four to twenty storage cards. Some provide waterproof and crushproof construction for another level of security for your precious images. Given that they cost about a fiver, it’s not worth going without and risking losing cards in pockets and other small compartments!
For £25 or less, the above accessories are a great way to add to your bag on a budget. Whether you’re mounting cameras and flashes, getting a head above the crowd or protecting your data, these accessories will surely come in handy when you are out taking pictures.
Of course there are hundred of other little bits and bobs that many photographers carry in their bags. Do you have anything you never leave home without, why not drop a comment below?
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