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Equipment List for Photographing in Nature

The natural world is home to limitless macro and close-up photographic opportunities. Whether you wish to document new species in the rain forest, find interesting subjects to photograph right in your own backyard, or create detail shots for a photo essay you’re working on, this chapter helps you prepare for and accomplish your goals.

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As someone who’s been there, and continues to go there, you probably prefer to pack light when setting out on a nature shoot. Considering most essential photo equipment (such as the camera body and lenses) is made of heavy glass and metal, there’s not much more you wish to add to the gear list.

Here’s a list of items to consider that should help you pack for success, without putting the last straw in your camera bag:

  • A versatile tripod is essential for avoiding limitations as to which shots you’re capable of getting. There are various tripod head and leg options, with different features associated with each. Ensure that you bring a tripod into nature that’s stable, small, and lightweight. You want one that enables you to get down very low to the ground, legs that you can stabilize on uneven terrain, and good height variation.

  • Flexible tripods are a lightweight alternative to typical types of tripods. These are made with joints that enable you to bend the legs for positioning into extremely uneven areas, or for wrapping around trees or rocks.

    Flexible tripods are great for traveling and for creative or improvisational camera stabilizing techniques, but they aren’t as sturdy as normal tripods, and may not keep heavier camera models as still as you would like. In any case, you can use flexible tripods to position other pieces of equipment, such as propping a flash to a tree, or hanging a scrim above your scene.

  • A right-angle viewfinder is ideal for viewing scenes through a camera that’s very low to the ground. It enables you to look through the camera from above rather than getting down on the ground with it.

  • Bendable wire is very lightweight and easy to store. You can use it to prop small scrims and black flags, or to temporarily reposition small branches and plants to better suit your composition.

  • Clamps work well for holding things in place (such as scrims, black flags, or reflectors), or temporarily holding distracting elements out of the way. When combined with a tripod socket, clamps can be used to position a flash anywhere that the clamp can be fixed to.

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