When you're twenty five, nothing hurts. Your hands, after a long day of shooting, feel just fine. And what's a little sun exposure? And the back? It's as strong as ever. When you've added a few years to your life span, things start to change. It doesn't happen overnight even though sometimes it feels like it did.
As we add years to our photography career, there are a few tools in the arsenal that can positively impact your photography (and your health!). These little investments make a difference in the long run.
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1. Fingerless gloves
In the winter, there are many cold weather gloves and glove/mitten combos designed for warmth, flexibility and usage of your index finger. In warmer climates and seasons, consider two other types of gloves.
- Fishermans' fingerless gloves offer protection from the sun and have stripping guards to protects hands from line burns. A significant advantage when holding camera gear. Buff Pro Angler Gloves from Sierra Trading Post have a UPF rating of 50.
- Fingerless arthritis compression gloves provide a little extra support and comfort when carrying and holding our camera gear and afterwards too. IMAK Compression Arthritis Gloves really do help relieve aches and soreness arising from arthritis of the hands or plane overuse. These gloves are the only ones that I've found to that have the Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use Commendation. The mild compression helps with warmth and circulation.
They aren't bad looking either. The fabric is soft, machine washable and can be worn day through the night. The gloves cover the knuckles but can be cut before the knuckle as the fabric doesn't fray. Amazon and other retailers carry them at prices ranging from $18 – 22USD/pair.
2. Bean bag/long lens support for your car
The SkimmerSack II from Naturescapes.net takes flexibility of how and where you shoot to the max. Made with a non-skid fabric inside the legs, it doesn't slip on car doors.
It can be used standalone to rest your camera/lens or also used with another accessory, the Skimmer Ground Pod II. See next.
3. Ground Level Photography Gear Support
The Skimmer Ground Pod II also from Naturescapes.net is a tough, lightweight plastic disc that allows sliding your camera equipment on the ground. It works through sand, mud, grass while keeping your camera safe when working on or near wet conditions.
The Skimmer Ground Pod II can be used with a ball-head or gimbal head. A cleaner way (for your gear) to get ground-level bird and wildlife photography shots!
4. Save Your Skin
From sunrise to sunset, outdoor photographers spend a lot of time in the elements. Diligence in applying sunscreen and chapstick will aid in protecting your skin. Just because we spend many hours in the great outdoors doesn't mean we need to have prematurely weathered skin, or worse – damaged skin and chapped lips. It takes less than two minutes to preserve and protect! Blistex and Chapstick are long time favorites. Broad spectrum sunscreens (absorb both UVB and UVA rays) that have a SPF 15 (minimum) rating will help keep your face ‘camera ready' long term even when you're behind the lens.
5. Hip Holster with shoulder support
Backpacks and daypacks carry multiple lenses and accessories. To lighten the load, ThinkTank has hip holsters for carrying cameras with lenses attached, holsters for standalone lenses and for small accessories. The waist belt and a shoulder sling keeps the weight distributed versus just on your back.
6. Eye drops
There are many brands and type of eye drops on the market. As a contact lens wearer and being outdoors for extended periods of time, I use an over-the-counter eye drop that my optometrist recommended. From eyes that need a little lubrication to conditions that require prescriptions, share with your eye doctor how much time you spend in the field and how much time you spend in front of a computer. This will help determine the optimum eye care that's right for you.
7. Waders, Boots, etc.
Waders, rubber boots and leg coverings help keep you dry and warm. Leg Armor is an over the boot and knee design that has an inner pocket for a knee pad. The thick fabric offers for protection from moisture, dirt and abrasives if you don't need to go the wader route. My Hunter Boots continue to get a rigorous workout. Mine have last for 5 years and they are used in early morning shoots when the ground is still wet or when I'm on the beach on chilly days.
2 Reminder Tips:
- When walking in water, the pant legs go on the inside of the boots to prevent the bottoms from getting wet.
- When walking in sand, the pant legs go on the outside of the boot to prevent sand from getting into your boots.
8. Knee Comfort & Protection
The group of sports photographers are using monopods, tripods, they have bottled water, protective hats – all good. The extended weight bearing on the knees can be uncomfortable on a hard, uneven or gravelly surface. Add comfort to your shoot with lightweight, gardening knee pads. Fiskars Ultra Light Knee Pads are soft, flexible and inexpensive too.
We all find ‘outside of the box' tools to help our photography in addition to lenses, cameras, filters, etc. What are your favorites?