SO, WHAT'S IN YOUR BAG?
by Carol Lee
OK – you have your camera, and one or more lenses. You have a camera bag; it may be your first, but probably won’t be your last. Besides the camera and lens(es), what do you put in the bag? What you include in yours depends on what type of photography you like to do. Since outdoor photographers are most likely to have fully loaded camera bags, to answer the question, I talked to a number of them and looked at some of the websites of many of the professional photographers who include a list of gear.
The first item doesn't go in your bag, but hopefully you have a way to attach it – or another bag of course. Ask photographers what one item they would never leave for a photo shoot without (other than camera and lens of course) and the most likely answer you will get is “my tripod.” No matter what type of photography you choose to do, this is a valuable tool. Extra memory cards, a spare camera battery and lens filters are other commonly named items. The types of filters included are again personal preference, but the frequently name ones are UV filters - often used to protect the lens – and circular polarizing and neutral density filters.
Now to what I find interesting: What are the other things you might find in your favorite photographer's bag?
--Cleaning items: microfiber lens cloth; small brush, blower, cotton swabs; extra microfiber cloth or cotton dish towel to keep your hands clean, wipe down items when needed and can be used to cover camera and lens in light mist (also gives some extra padding in your bag). It is a good idea to keep these in a plastic bag.
--Tools: include the tools that are needed for the your tripod, bracket and head; small scissors and tweezers can help a macro photographer gently clean around the subject; a small multitool can meet some of these needs and others that arise.
--Light control: lens hood, camera flash and/or hand held light (can be used to selectively light objects for macro photography); flashlight or penlight so you can see your controls in those prime times for light around sunrise and sunset, also to help you see where you are going; collapsible diffusers and reflectors.
--Miscellaneous: black mat board or fabric to provide a clean background; hot shoe bubble level; camera rain jacket or shower cap kindly provided by the hotel to use for camera protection.
--Papers: business cards, just to share your info, but especially important if you are currently or planning to make a business of this; model release forms; camera manual (yes, you should have read it, but it is still a good resource); a small notebook – good for notes about the shoot, settings that really worked. I use mine to make note of settings and suggestions I read for things I hope to do but come up infrequently.
Don't forget to occasionally take everything out of your bag, vacuum it and wipe everything down. The grit and grime that accumulates over time can damage your equipment.
These are the items that came up regularly -- you will find many more that are determined by personal needs. Now that you have found more things to put in your bag, do you need a new one?
Carol Lee is an enthusiastic hobbyist who likes to learn from how others do things. She is a member of the workshop committee preparing for the 2012 Augusta Photography Festival.