Okay, maybe not so wise, but I do love alliteration. This post is all about photography tips and tricks. I’ve been photographing for quite a while and I’ve learned lots of stuff along the way; photography tips, gear tips, accessory tips, tips of tips, etc., et. al., and the like, and so on… (did I mention I also love a thesaurus?). I’ve picked up a lot of tricks too; things I’ve discovered or learned from other photographers that make photographing easier, or less expensive. This is a dynamic post. I’ll add more photography tips and tricks as I think of them, so check back often. And…if you know of something I haven’t included, please comment and share your own wise words.
Keep your lenses clean!
Use a lens cloth and wipe them down, gently but firmly. I’m usually pretty good at keeping my lenses and sensor clean, but I was hiking in the desert (low humidity/high static electricity) and when I’m hiking, my lens is pointing down to the ground and the dirt I kicked up with my feet stuck to the glass. I REALLY annoy myself when I have to clean up the sky of an image because I was a tad bit careless. I should have tossed a lens cloth and maybe even a lens brush in my pocket. It would have saved me a lot of time in editing.
Keep your lens cloths clean
I have LOTS of them, and rotate them around. They’re easy to wash; mild detergent, no fabric softener, wash by hand so the cloth doesn’t pick up lint from other things in the washer. Let them dry and you’re good to go until they’re dirty again.
3. Traveling? A checklist is your friend! Feel free to print mine, or use it as a template to make your own.
Checklists tend to get pretty personal after awhile; we figure out what we’ve forgotten to put on the list and we learn over time that some things aren’t necessary and all of that is personal preference. It’s pretty hard to find a one-size-fits-all checklist. For instance, I added camera straps to my list because I have a habit of taking mine off. I’ve lost more than a few eyepieces in inconvenient places, like in the middle of Heidelberg when all the shops are closed. I don’t always need a flashlight, but when I do, I prefer a headlamp because it’s hands free. A power cord might be necessary if you find yourself in a hotel room with limited outlets. You might want to add a USB charger too, but I have that on my general packing list, so it’s covered elsewhere.
I’m wishy washy with checklists. Sometimes I make and use them, and other times I’m a free spirit and choose to wing it. I have only been burned when I let my free spirit rule! I didn’t use a checklist when I forgot my tripod on the Great American Eclipse adventure. And I forgot my camera battery charger on a long trip to Ironman Idaho and back. Trust me, ignore your free spirit! Use a checklist so you won’t find yourself in a remote location without a critical part of your gear.
Camera Bags and Backpacks
Let’s talk about camera bags and backpacks. For the most part, they’re terrible. I am in total agreement with Caleb Kerr. I use a padded pack or rolling case for traveling (planes, trains and automobiles). But once I’m on the ground, walking or light hiking, I’ll take my padded backpack. Please don’t laugh! I’ve spent countless dollars and tried a multitude of packs, bags and shoulder bags, most of which are far more expensive than this one, but they weren’t any better, and in most cases, worst. If I’m seriously hiking, I also use an Osprey hiking backpack. I haven’t outfitted mine quite so nicely as Mr. Kerr, but it works a thousand fold better than anything else I’ve tried.
For flying, or when I am taking a lot of gear, I pack my gear in a padded, rolling case. It’s important that the case either fits in an overhead or under the seat. Once, I have reluctantly checked a camera bag but I never plan to check it. I’d rather handle my equipment myself than hope the airline baggage folks won’t throw my gear around. I got my rolling cases from Calumet, and sadly they are no longer in business. Theoretically, you could make your own rolling case with an overhead-sized suitcase and your own inserts. The goal is to keep the gear from banging up against each other to keep your gear from being jostled as much as possible.
Now let’s talk about camera straps. It is amazing that you can spend thousands of dollars for a camera and it comes with the cheesiest camera strap. I have the original Black Rapid. For some reason, I kept the original straps that came with my cameras too, but I don’t know why. Black Rapid improved and increased their product line since I bought my strap (2008-ish). It is still in perfect shape and working order. What I love about the Black Rapid is that it is ergonomic, has a nice padded area for your shoulder and it attaches to the tripod socket on the camera, and then the camera glides up the strap. When I don’t want to hold it, it hangs upside down at my waist which makes it a lot easier to walk or hike. In writing this though, I am going to look into some of the new options. I’ll report back if I upgrade my strap.