Being well prepared is the key to get striking shots on any outdoor shoot. When an opportunity presents itself, it would kill you if you aren’t able to capture it just because you forgot some essential equipment back home. So, Neelima Vallangi, a travel photographer, lists down everything that you must pack in your camera bag while on a trek.
1. Extra batteries and memory cards
Usually, a trek lasts anywhere between four days to about a week or more. As we proceed towards summit day, the quality of the scenery changes exponentially. Now, just imagine how sad you’d be if you ran out of battery charge or memory space on one such day. Since you can’t really anticipate the kind of photo opportunities during the entire trek, shooting in moderation isn’t an option either. To avoid any such problems, carry at least one extra battery and as many memory cards as possible. But just carrying an extra battery won’t suffice as it discharges at a faster rate in cold temperatures. Store the batteries in a small woollen pouch or in your jacket to keep them warm.
2. A light-weight tripod
While carrying a bulky tripod on a trek is not wise, going without one isn’t a good choice either. There are a lot of light-weight and compact tripods in the market. They might not be as sturdy as they should be, but they do serve the purpose to a large extent. They usually cost around Rs.800.
3. Wide angle lens
It doesn’t make sense to carry a lot of lenses on a trek. A wide angle lens usually suffices. If shooting landscapes is your primary concern, don’t bother carrying a telephoto lens, as it adds a lot of weight to your backpack. For portraits, I feel a wide angle does justice as it captures the scenery along with the person. Your only excuse to carry it is if you are particular about shooting some fauna. Even so, think twice before packing that extra lens.
Filters can do a whole lot of good in outdoor photography. Depending on your interests, you can carry either one of them or all – a circular polariser, a neutral density filter and a graduated neutral density filter. I carry all three of them on most occasions. Whatever happens, I’d never leave without a CPL and a Grad ND.
5. Comfortable gloves for night photography
The nights get really cold during treks and while it might not seem that important at first, having a really good pair of gloves is very important if you want to be able to stay out of the tent and shoot. With the kind of low temperatures and cold winds we are faced with on treks, staying out even for a minute without gloves is next to impossible. And if we do not wear the right gloves, operating a camera becomes impossible. So, get comfortable first and then shoot to your heart’s content. After all, how many times do you get to see such spectacular stars or moonlit nights? Many photographers use gloves which have a small slit on the index finger. You can buy them online.
6. An umbrella
Now, this is not something that you want to carry always but it becomes essential during monsoon. If you intend to shoot in rain, an umbrella is an easy choice to protect the camera from getting wet and still being able to shoot.
7. Remote shutter release
If you are as much of a fan of night skies as I am, you definitely need to carry a remote shutter release. The maximum time the shutter can be open in a D-SLR is 30 seconds and at times you need exposures of more than 30 seconds to get what you want. While there is a bulb mode in the camera, if you hold the button down with your hand, the camera shake totally ruins the image even with the tripod and IS on. In such cases, a remote shutter release becomes an essential in your camera bag .
I always pack these items on any shoot. They do add to the weight of the backpack but I compensate by carrying less clothes.
To read more from Neelima, check out her blog, The Wandering Soul’s Wander Tales.