Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a senior photographer. Not senior as in jobsite seniority. I’m old. Maybe even ancient (well, 60 no longer seems as old as it did when I was thirty).
For us photo geezers, I offer the following: my favorite accessories that I employ in the field, whether I’m shooting landscapes in Ecuador or wildlife in Africa. I’m a professional photographer, so use or modify these suggestions to suit your photographic needs. And, send in your own suggestions which I will post on my site and credit to your experience and wisdom.
Right Angle Viewer (RAV). As far as I’m concerned this is a must for the over-fifty photographer. You attach the RAV to your viewfinder and voila!, you don’t have to lay on your stomach to get a shot of that rare flower. RAVs rotate so that you can use them in landscape or portrait mode. They’re great to use with a tripod when photographing wildflowers or insects. Tip: since the RAV optics do not factor into the actual photo (that’s what the lens mounted on the front of the camera is for), you don’t need to buy the one made by your camera manufacturer. You can get one for half the price from secondary manufacturers. My favorite is www.hoodman.com.
Knee Pads. Don’t laugh, knee pads are the greatest invention since sliced bread for seniors. Try kneeling for ten minutes photographing those cute sea lions in the Galapagos. The lava rocks will gnaw at your kneecaps and you’ll feel the stress on your knees for days. Sure I look like a dork, but if I’m comfortable in the field, I usually bring home the goods. Try on pairs at Home Depot or Lowes.
Photo Gloves. These are lightweight, rubber-coated gloves that keep bulk to a minimum and grip strength at a maximum. You can’t go wrong with the ones made by LowePro.
Plastic Reading Glasses. In the field I use cheap plastic frames with polycarbonate lenses, less than $20 at the local drugstore. I always carry an extra pair with me, since without reading glasses I can’t read a damned thing on my LCD screen.
Tripod. I hate to admit it, but aging has taken its toll on my joints. I used to be able to handhold a 70-200mm lens all day and still get sharp images at 1/50 of a second at twilight. No more. Now my tripod is my #1 photo tool. Tip: buy one of the carbon fiber tripods for their reduced weight. Then put foam pads on the upper leg sections so you can carry it balanced on your shoulder without pain.
Diopter adjustment. Lots of folks either forget or don’t know that you can adjust the diopter setting on most mid- to high-end DSLR cameras to customize it for your eyesight. Thebest way to use it is to set your camera on a tripod and autofocus on a book jacket propped up on a table. Take the shot and be sure that the focus is tack sharp. Now look through the viewfinder without changing any setting. If the book does not look tack sharp to your eyes, adjust the diopter wheel until the image appears perfectly sharp to you.
Your suggestions, please… I welcome suggestions from other senior photographers out there. Please let me know what you use to make photographing easier for you. Until then, use sunscreen and drink lots of water (ibuprofen helps, too!).
Les Picker is a professional photographer living in Maryland. He is happy to address specific photographic questions from his blog readers. Visit his website at: www.lesterpickerphoto.com