Giles Babbidge recommends a selection of lightweight and inexpensive accessories to take everywhere
The more pictures you take, the more you’ll come to realise that it’s often a select few items of kit which get used the majority of the time. It might be that you have a preference for a certain lens, a lighting setup you favour, or a filter which is always in place – but what about the more mundane items which often get overlooked?
1. Remote release
Canon RS-80N3 Remote Switch
Camera shake is one of those unfortunate effects that can spoil an otherwise perfect picture. Worse still, you don’t always notice it fully until viewing your picture at a larger size on the computer screen.
A remote release is the perfect solution for ensuring your fumbling hands don’t interfere with longer exposures. While a camera’s self-timer can perform the same function, a release allows for precise control over the moment the shutter is triggered – perfect for capturing fast-paced action, including fireworks.
2. Lens pen
Hama Classic Lens Pen
Keeping the glass of your lenses nice and clean, especially when shooting into the light, is an absolute must. Rather than using your shirt (not recommended in case there is any dirt or grit on it, which could cause scratches!) you should be using a dedicated accessory.
Lens cloths do a great job, but lens pens offer even more cleaning power, featuring both a super-soft brush and a velvety pad for removing greasy smudges such as finger prints.
3. Head torch
Canon RS-80N3 Remote Switch
Don’t get caught out as the light fades away at the end of the day! A head torch will allow you to focus a bright beam of light exactly where it’s needed while leaving your hands free to operate your camera.
These are also great for light painting techniques, as you can change their output to tailor the effect they have when their light strikes a subject.
4. Heat pads / hand warmers
Wildlife Watching Single Use 7-Hour Heat Pads
Aside from rain, there’s nothing worse than the cold for knocking morale when taking pictures on location. Whether you’re catching first light on a chilly summer’s morning or hanging around for star-trail exposures to complete in the middle of the night, keeping warm and comfortable should be a priority.
Hand warmer pads are a great way to keep your spirits up, and they last ages (seven hours, single use). They can be stored in your camera bag for ages, too – they only begin working when exposed when the packet is opened and they’re exposed to the air.
5. Grey card
Colour Confidence Total Balance Collapsible AF Grey Card
When it comes to getting the colours right in your shots, one of the quickest and best ways to do this is to use a grey card at the time of capture.
Grey cards are inexpensive, light and compact, and if you shoot portraits regularly you should really consider getting one. When you’re ready to take pictures, simply get your subject to hold the card for an initial reference shot.
Batch-processing multiple pictures taken in the same lighting conditions also becomes easier as a result of using a grey card – and less time in front of the computer means more time out taking great pictures!
6. Sticky tape / marker pen
I’ve lost count of the number of times a bit of sticky tape has bailed me out when taking pictures. Whether it’s duct tape, electrical tape, masking tape or whatever, I always keep some tucked away in my camera bag. They’re all perfect for on-the-spot repairs.
To prevent the tape taking up lots of space, a good idea is to simply wrap a length around a marker pen, which can also be used to jot down shooting notes (such as exposure settings) if required.
Borrowed from the rock climbing world, carabiners are great for attaching items to the outside of your camera bag. They’re available in all manner of colours, sizes and variations.
These little gems are also great for helping to steady your camera – simply attach one to your camera bag handle and hook it around the central hub or centre column of your tripod. The weight will essentially pull the tripod towards the ground, making it a more solid structure – perfect in windy conditions.
8. Fifty pence coin
You might be wondering what this has to do with photography. Well, have you ever found yourself unable to attach a camera to your tripod’s quick release plate because you don’t have a penknife, screwdriver or something similar on hand?
If so, you’ll find that an old fifty pence coin is often the perfect tool – it offers a near exact fit and is big enough to get a good grip, especially in cold conditions.
9. Polarising filter
Kood 52mm Circular Polariser
Filters are regularly cited as must-have accessories for all photographers, but they can see little use in reality. A good idea at the time, but left to gather dust at the back of a cupboard.
Polarisers are perhaps the one exception – they are so useful. Whether it’s boosting saturation, removing reflections and glare or improving interesting skies in landscape pictures, these filters are genuinely worth having.
10. Mini tripod
Manfrotto MP3 Pocket Tripod Large
We all know that tripods come in many shapes and sizes, but did you know that some are as small as a credit card? This makes them perfect for keeping in your bag for times when you need to quickly support your camera.
Even if you go up in size and weight, many table top models are worth packing, too, as they make very little difference in terms of space and weight, yet will help you out in all manner of situations where your camera needs to be kept rock steady.
About the Author
Giles Babbidge is a commercial and editorial photographer based in Hampshire. He travels all around the UK and works with a wide range of clients – you can find out more about his day-to-day activities over at his website.