Don't Leave Home Without It

May 02, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Shoreline Sentries Sea Stacks Bandon OregonSHORELINE SENTRIESBandon Beach, Oregon "If only I'd brought ________, I might have been able to make that photograph." 

Has this ever happened to you?

The blank in that sentence might represent any number of things, some of which won't just cause you to miss a single photo opportunity. They might derail the shoot altogether (like extra batteries). 

As the Boy Scouts say, Be Prepared. There are some things you ought to carry in your bag. All the time.

I'll go one step further and suggest there are additional items you might want to store in your vehicle. As long as you're driving to a location, then you'll know you're fully equipped and your "pregame" checklist will be shorter.

You'll find these things in my bag at all times:

Spare batteries, fully charged
Microfiber lens cloths and lens spray
Remote release
Circular polarizer
Circular variable ND filter
Bear spray (not in the winter)

Here's what lives in the back of my vehicle:

Insect repellant
Microspikes (not in the summer)
Muck boots
Circular collapsible diffuser/reflector
Flat sheet of plastic

The smaller items fit inside a 14" x 8" plastic storage container; everything's in one spot.

Your lists - especially the vehicle list, if you opt for one - will no doubt vary. The climate in which you live will, of course, influence what types of things you deem indispensable. The point is, make it easier on yourself!

Most of the items on my vehicle list are self-explanatory, though you might wonder about the plastic sheet. I often use it on early morning shoots when the ground is wet. I tend to show up early. Before getting to work I might spend some time just taking things in: listening to the wildlife, or watching as the darkness begins to give way. With the plastic, I can sit if I feel like it while getting in tune with the morning. 

The plastic can also be used as protection for the camera bag. Muddy, wet, dusty, whatever. I'd rather not have my bag sitting in it.

You may not use muck boots frequently but they'll do yeoman's work when needed. I bought my first pair to use on a shoot along the Oregon Coast and they've been riding around with me ever since. When it's so muddy you're going to sink a few inches into it, believe me you'll be glad you have the boots. I've also used them to wade into shallow lake and river water, and they're great in the rain. As referenced, you'll need them when the tide's coming in and you don't want to have to retreat. Once I used them as snow boots in Moab, Utah when a surprise spring storm deposited a few inches of the white stuff.

It took three tries before I found a pair of muck boots I liked and which didn't create massive blisters. The winners came from an equestrian website; people who were tasked with cleaning stalls swore by them. They're comfortable, durable, have good traction, and weren't outrageously expensive.  

A note about bear spray: it shouldn't live in your vehicle. Temperature extremes aren't good for it.

If you don't live in bear country but are going to be visiting, be advised you cannot fly with it. Check rental options. Yes, you can rent bear spray. Here in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, there are multiple pick-up and drop-off locations. On the Grand Teton side, you can both pick up and return cans at the Jackson Hole Airport or at Bear Aware Jackson (in town). If you're starting at Yellowstone, you've got multiple options before hitting the park, including West Yellowstone, Big Sky and Bozeman. Once inside, Canyon Village and Old Faithful are pick-up and drop-off locations. (And yes, you should carry bear spray in this part of the world, and know how to use it.)

If you're not already, make like a Boy Scout and Be Prepared.

That sinking feeling when you're rooting around your camera bag and realize you forgot something you really need? Don't let it happen. Making permanent room for these types of things doesn't take up much space. Do yourself a favor; don't leave home without the essentials.

In Local News

The East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park (accessed via Cody, Wyoming) is scheduled to open tomorrow morning.

The South Entrance (from Grand Teton National Park) will follow next Friday, May 10.

Dunraven Pass is tentatively scheduled for May 24.

Beartooth Highway's opening date is still TBD.

Give wildlife plenty of space, especially this time of year when they have youngsters in tow. 


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