Above photo courtesy of Rowan Bestmann (http://bestmannimagery.com/)
It doesn’t sound too difficult to grab a camera and head off into the bush to photograph insects, but even a short trip to the local park can soon turn sour if you’re not prepared. I’m not necessarily talking about doomsday stuff like twisting an ankle and falling on a venomous snake miles from water with a pack of hungry dingoes surrounding you, but it could be something as simple as getting caught in the rain or going for a walk in hot weather and finding yourself getting a bit thirsty.
Yes, I do take precautions before I go, so I’m not going into all of that, suffice to say that I always check the weather forecast and if I’m going somewhere new, I’ll check maps and/or speak to locals.
So, here are a few things I always take with me:
Sorry to point out the obvious, but it’s amazing how things like that can be forgotten. But it’s not just the camera itself – don’t forget your lenses, flash and other bits. I started out on a walk one day and spotted a very nice little Ladybird and it was only then that I discovered I had left my memory card at home. Fortunately in this case, I was only 20 minutes from home, so I raced off, grabbed the card, raced back and was lucky enough to find the beetle right where I had left it. I would say it was a lesson learned, but I got the photos of the beetle, so I didn’t really get punished for my mistake. Maybe next time I won’t be so lucky.
2. Weather gear.
A raincoat is always handy, but I also carry a couple of plastic ponchos. They are great for when you have the camera around your neck because you can throw the poncho over yourself and the camera. It’s not easy trying to stuff an SLR, with lens and flash attached, inside your raincoat.
3. Food and drink.
No matter how far I’m travelling or how long I’m going for, I always carry at least two bottles of water or a 2-litre camelback or both, plus a bit of food. Apologies to all the health freaks out there, but I prefer lollies like snakes or jelly babies. It’s more just to keep the hunger at bay and they aren’t as inclined to go off if they’re left in my bag for a while.
I always pack a few bits and pieces that could come in handy, both in terms of survival and for recording purposes. A notepad and pen is useful for jotting down the names of places I visit because I like to be fairly precise about locations. A compass, a cigarette lighter, a knife (Bear Grylls style with a flint, in case the lighter fails) and a small first aid kit. I’m hoping none of that stuff will ever need to be used, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. And of course I always take my phone.
There’s nothing worse than trying to hold steady for a nice close-up shot of a bug while a swarm of mosquitoes or march flies are attacking every exposed bit of flesh. Meanwhile, the sun is beating down on you and you are slowly getting roasted, which means the next hot shower you have is going to end in tears. Insect repellent and sunblock, people! It’s that simple.
Happy snapping and stay safe.
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