Photography is an expensive pastime, but it’s not all about spending thousands on the latest DSLR. Four top pros and eight readers reveal some clever ways of keeping costs down.
Ross Hoddinott is one of the UK’s leading outdoor photographers. He is multi-award winning, and the author of eight books. Ross is recognised as a close-up specialist, and enjoys photographing insects and wild plants. Visit www.rosshoddinott.co.uk.
I think the latest version might cost closer to £40, but when I originally bought my Wimberley Plamp – around 10 years ago – they cost £29.95. For close-up photographers, this is a really handy, lightweight accessory. Basically, it is an articulated arm with a clasp at each end. One clamp attaches to your tripod leg, while the other can keep your subject steady or hold a reflector or light in position. It’s like having a extra hand!
The best budget item I’ve ever bought is a humble close-up filter. Twenty-five years ago, I spent £10 of my precious pocket money on a set of diopters – and they got me hooked on shooting nature and close-ups. They act like a magnifying glass, converting a normal lens into a close- focusing one. You can still buy them for less than a tenner – an absolute bargain!
Guide to Bird & Nature Photography by Laurie Campbell
One of the best ways to develop your camera skills is to study the photography of working pros. I bought this title in my teens. Laurie’s images proved to be an inspiration, and his knowledge invaluable. The book might look a little dated now, but I still flick through it from time to time. Photo books, or a subscription to a photo magazine, can prove to be money well spent.
Petzl head lamp
A head torch is an essential item for outdoor photographers. I opted for a Petzl Tikkina, costing £17.95, but there is a huge choice. I often walk to a viewpoint before sunrise or return after dark. A torch allows me to see where I’m going and keep safe. The advantage of a head torch is that it allows you to keep your hands free – perfect when trying to set up or pack away kit in the dark.
I live close to the coast and often shoot seascapes. But sea spray can ruin a good shoot. Once a lens or filter is smothered, it is difficult to continue – a normal lens cloth soon gets damp and just smears spray, making the problem worse. I’ve found these disposable lens wipes to be a great solution. They are moist, micro-fine tissues, individually wrapped. They cut through salt spray and give you another opportunity to get a clean shot. A real life saver! You can buy a box of 200 for under £10.
Jeremy Walker is an award-winning professional photographer with many years’ experience specialising in landscape and location photography. A belief in ‘quality is everything’, and a meticulous approach serves him well. Visit www.jeremywalker.co.uk.
Lighting filter swatch
I have used a complete sample book of coloured lighting filter gels for colouring the output from flashguns. Just cut out the colour you need and tape it to the flashgun. I have to admit that I did this when I was a penniless student, and nowadays filter companies are rather reluctant to hand out big swatch books.
Chamois cloth and bulldog clip
These are really useful for covering your camera and lens when shooting in conditions, such as snow or light drizzle, to protect the body and lens from moisture. It is also useful for working near the sea and keeping sea spray off your kit, or when working in dusty environments.
‘Wiggly Worm’ articulated arm
This is an articulated or bendy arm that has a crocodile clip at one end and can be fitted to a camera’s hotshoe. Used to hold a piece of black card, it’s a very accurate way of shielding filters from the direct glare of the sun, especially if your filter holder cannot take a lens hood.
Hotshoe cover and spirit level
This is a small rubber hotshoe cover and spirit level all-in-one. Great for protecting the hotshoe when working on the coast where there is plenty of sea spray (and salt) and for keeping moisture off the metal contacts. Yes, I know my camera has a built-in level but this gadget is handy for a quick glance, especially when you are in a hurry.
A very small, bright and useful torch from a high-street outdoor shop. It’s very small and handy for fitting into little nooks and crannies, when you need a small area of illumination when shooting interiors. It’s also very useful for illuminating icebergs stranded on the beach in Iceland!
David Noton is a leading landscape and travel photographer who runs his own successful freelance company from Sherborne in Dorset. His clients include The National Trust, Royal Mail and Canon. He is the author of several books. Visit www.davidnoton.com.
My wife Wendy does get a bit twitchy when I wear my head torch in dimly lit restaurants, but I find mine so useful, and not just for deciphering menus! This is one piece of kit I wouldn’t be without on a dawn or dusk shoot; it’s a lifesaver.
Even in midsummer, it can get pretty fresh in the hours before dawn on exposed hilltops while waiting for the light. I find fingerless gloves so useful, I keep pairs stashed away in key places – my bag, the car and various jacket pockets, but I still lose them! They also serve as a useful first layer in winter.
Carbon-fibre tripods are sturdy yet light, which is all well and good, but sometimes I need weight to give additional stability to my camera support, especially when the wind is up. A handy trick is to suspend my laden bag from the tripod using a bungee, not with it swaying in the wind, but just brushing the ground.