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Building Your Bag: Accessories | Part 2 – Functionality

Filters of all sorts, flashes, cards, readers, light-meters, remote triggers, straps, battery chargers, batteries, business cards, business card holders, lens bags, cases, cords, levels, tripods, lens cloths, blah, blah, blah. Do you need it all and does it have to be the best of the best? YES, GO BUY IT ALL RIGHT NOW– but only if you’ve got a limitless income! Well, most of us can’t go out and buy a car full of photography equipment, so I’d recommend that you start off slow and figure out what you need and want to use first. I always felt like I needed gear protection, wanted functionality, and then played with creativity enabling accessories, and thats the order of purchasing that I’d recommend if you don’t have an agenda.

This is the 3rd part in a series of helping beginning photographers build their camera kit. The first two can be found here:
Building Your Bag – Lenses
Building Your Bag – Accessories | Part 1

Functionality

Flashes

flash_yongnuo_speedlite_-yn_565_ex_(500)

Each brand has their one line of very portable and extremely useful lights. One of the best ways to improve your photography is to add, play with and understand artificial light! These lights, often called speed-lights come in different sizes and varies in pricing. Many 3rd party flashes have a good amount of power and a great price point, but miss out on some features that are brand specific. Canon has their new 600EX-RT and 430EX II, and Nikon has their SB-910 and SB-700 that cover the professional to the amateur. Yongnuo also has a competitively priced speedlight called the YN-560 III that is popular among many strobists.

These lights combined with a off-camera flash cable, can instantly help beginning photographers not only add drama to their photographs, but create properly exposed images when their on-camera flash won’t cut it.

A flash and a cable will be #3 and #4 in the list of things to get.

Batteries

batteries-picture

Getting some genuine batteries is a must for those endurance shooters! I hate pausing and swapping out batteries in the middle of a pressured shoot, so the longer I can go without worrying about power, the better. I’d pick up one or two if you can afford it, and don’t skimp on the cash for these– if you want to know what I’m talking about, read one of my previous articles addressing counterfeits. I mean, really, this is a no brainer… Get spares, and get quite a few. Oh yeah, don’t forget batteries for your flashes– carry a couple packs of rechargeable batteries!

Camera Straps

Screen Shot 2014-11-27 at 1.02.28 AM

If you’ve seen me lately, you’d notice that I like to stand out a little bit. It isn’t really that hard for me to stand out as a 6 foot skinny Asian guy, but I like to add a bit of surprise. Straps can be functionally nice, or aesthetically pleasing… This is really all up to you. Personally, I use a Rapid strap on my Canon Elan 7. I think it’s a great little strap that gives me the flexibility and comfort that I need. It’s kind of a boring black, but to me, I think of it as a sleek black that matches my crazy hair… which currently isn’t all black. Check around though! There are some amazing straps that can be matched to fit any personality type.

Tripods

roadtrip_colors_black

Tripods are always helpful when you’re wanting to get creative. Everything from intricate selfies to sweeping timelapses can and do benefit from the use of a tripod. I think every beginning photography class makes you purchase a basic one, but not all are created equal: some are heavy, some are light, some are small and some are ridiculously huge, some have hooks, some have removable legs. Choosing a tripod largely depends on what kind of gear you’re going to be mounting on it, how much you’re going to use it, and how portable you want it to be. The heavier the tripod, typically the more stable your camera will be in situations where wind is likely to disrupt. The lighter, of course, will be easy to carry around, but may feel vibration. Hooks are nice if you’re going to weigh a tripod down with a sandbag for extra weight and stability. Some transform into a monopod… or a high tech walking stick. I personally use the one that’s pictured.. A MeFOTO RoadTrip.

Shutter releases

mdn3canon

A camera remote or a wired shutter release with a lock enable you to take some longer exposures than what your camera is normally able to do. There are all sorts of fancy kinds of releases. I’d probably either use a basic one, or a smartphone enabled one. More advanced users use ones with digital timers and stopwatches built into them to help them keep track of exposure. These things are just super helpful in general. When using a shutter release cable, you decrease the chance of you shaking the camera or the tripod in a long exposure. With the smartphone enabled ones, you can set it up so you can capture pictures in intervals, or even have the shutter triggered by motion, or sound. This opens up a whole box of possibilities! Just don’t be creepy about it… please.. for the love of all that’s holy.

TriggerTrap is one trigger that I’ve been able to put to use recently. I strangely found one of it’s trigger functions pretty useful on a cabin trip with my friends. I was trying to use it to explore timelapses, but I didn’t really do so well with that (the trigger definitely did its job though). I used the sound trigger for a group picture from a 2nd story. It was pretty neat! There are bunches of options in terms of how to trigger the camera with this little piece of goodness. It’s definitely worth a look at if you haven’t checked it out yet.

These accessories are pretty simple and basic for any beginner to get started with. All of these are things that many universities suggest for entry level, amateur and professional photographers. Keep in mind that there are many different brands and that you don’t have to have the most expensive stuff to start with!

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