With the possible exception of yachting, there isn’t a single hobby that hoovers up money as adroitly as photography, mainly because we are a profligate bunch who live to buy the latest gadget or mildly upgraded camera.
But, if you want to take the very best images then you do need to spend some extra money on a few basics. Here are the three accessories that I couldn’t do without…
A polarising filter removes reflections from glass, which is pretty much essential when you are photographing cars. It also makes the sky bluer and renders colours more vividly.
My U/V filter protects the lens so the polarising filter sits in my camera bag until I need it, at which point it is the work of a moment to screw it on and adjust it. A polarising filter works best when you’re at a 90° angle to the sun, and you just rotate it until the reflections have gone or the sky is as blue as you can stand.
You can buy a cheap one for £10-20 or an expensive one for £50-100. There probably isn’t a great deal of difference but I’ve always bought Hoya Pro1 filters and have never been disappointed.
A simple guide to Instagram
Waterproof carry case
I’m a huge fan of my Lowepro Urban Reporter 250 bag, which is big enough to use as an overnight bag with a DSLR, a change of clothing, laptop plus other essential bits and bobs in it. It goes with me everywhere and I love it to bits.
However, it’s a soft bag and it isn’t waterproof. My Peli 1510 Protector Case
is waterproof, dustproof and solid enough that you can drive a car over it. I use the foam inserts, which are easy to shape to cradle your gear and can be bought cheaply when you decide to change the configuration after you buy another lens that you don’t really need.
All Pelican cases come with a lifetime warranty (which I’ve tested, and they replaced the faulty clip without a quibble) and you can order a customised insert to slip into the handle assembly to mark your case as belonging to you.
No, it’s not a cheap option, but then nor is my camera kit. Oh, and it just about qualifies as hand luggage. (What? Don’t tell me that you were going to check your camera gear into the hold?)
Finally, I use my tripod all the time. I know, modern DSLRs with image stabilisation are capable of being hand-held even in low light, but a tripod means I can use a lower ISO number for a cleaner image. It also means I can do long-exposure shots in near darkness.
If weight isn’t an issue I’ve got a huge video tripod that I could use to beat a tyrannosaurus rex to death with but when I’m travelling I’m happy to sacrifice some stability to save a lot of weight by using a Manfrotto BeFree tripod. It’s small, light and can be thrown into an overnight bag where it takes up almost no space. Take a look at the manufacturer’s website for the full specification but please buy it elsewhere as you can pick them up for around £100 from third-party sellers like Amazon.
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What’s the difference between an artist and a photographer? An artist doesn’t ask another artist what brush he used…