Must-Have Travel Photography Accessories Under $70

Must-Have Travel Photography Accessories Under $70

Can anything ruin your travels like than coming home with crappy photos? I know – no photos at all. What will really rip your undies is if it could’ve been avoided if you were better prepared. You don’t need a lot of gear to take great travel photos, but a few extra things in your camera bag can help you prepare for whatever your travels might throw at you. These are a few travel photography accessories that I’ve found are well worth the insignificant extra weight and cost.

Lens Wipes – $11

These little beauties are tiny, weigh nothing, and will clean your lenses far better than a microfibre cloth (although I always carry one of them too). The alcohol in the wipes will clean just about anything off your gear that a lens cloth will often just smear around. You can also use them to clean the LCD on the back of your camera, your glasses, even the screens on your devices. As an added bonus, you can sniff them for a cheap buzz (kidding).

zeiss-lens-cleaning-wipes-travel-photography-accessories

Camera Strap – $67

I’ve been using sling-style camera straps by Blackrapid for years, and I can’t imagine ever having a camera hanging around my neck again. A sling-strap distributes the weight of your camera over your shoulder instead of your neck and leaves the camera sitting on your hip where your hand conveniently lives. Perfect for long days of walking around exploring a city when you don’t want to carry your whole camera bag. My strap has a little pocket for little goodies like memory cards or lens wipes.

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Memory Card Wallet – $17

When my spare memory cards aren’t in my camera strap pocket, they live safe and secure in my Think Tank Photo Pee Wee Pixel Pocket Rocket Memory Card Wallet. Yup, that’s what it’s called. It has space for four CF cards and three SD cards, although these days I’m all SD. There’s even a space for your business card in case you throw it as somebody and they’re nice enough to try to find you to return it.

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Power Bank – $49

I have been accused of being a little obsessed with gadgets, and I can’t really argue. In my defence, I don’t own any gadgets that I don’t use. The problem with gadgets is that they need electricity, which can be in short supply when travelling. I’m lucky enough that all my gadgets can be charged via USB, including my camera (thank you, Sony).

I don’t go anywhere without my Anker PowerCore 20100 power bank now. I have the 20,000mAh model, which is enough to charge my phone six times! It has two USB outlets, meaning I can charge multiple gadgets or devices at the same time. That’s if my girlfriend hasn’t already drained it.

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Headlamp – $29

My favourite times of day for photography are from about an hour before sunset to an hour after sunrise. That gives me a little light at either end and whole lotta darkness in the middle. If I’m photographing sunrise, I’m walking to my location in the dark. If I’m photographing sunset I’m walking back from my location in the dark. If I’m photographing the stars or milky way… you get the idea. I’m often out in the dark.

A headlamp is invaluable for not only getting to and from locations in the dark, but also seeing what you’re doing while keeping your hands free. It’s also great for illuminating the foreground to find a focus point and for light-painting fun. The Petzl Tikka Headlamp isn’t the cheapest option, but mine’s still going strong after a few years.

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L-Bracket – $49

I don’t know how long I tolerated trying to shoot vertical images with the camera flopped over onto the side of my tripod ball-head. When I heard of the wonders of an L-bracket, I was like a man possessed. I had to have one. An L-bracket essentially gives you the ability to connect your tripod to either the bottom or the side of your camera. It’s lightning fast and means that when your camera is vertical, it sits on TOP of your tripod, rather than hanging off the side.

There are expensive brands that will sell you one specifically for your model of camera, but the universal ones work just as well and won’t cost you a limb. I use the 3 Legged Thing Universal L-Bracket as it came discounted with my tripod, but there are cheaper third-party options.

Card Reader – $17

Plugging in and importing each of your memory cards individually at the end of the day is for people who get paid by the hour. A card reader will make the process far simpler and quicker. Different models will accept different card types, so check what you need first. I still use my Kingston Multi-Card Reader from when I used both CF and SD cards. As I only use SD and microSD cards these days, I would go for the Anker 8-in-1 Portable Card Reader.

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Remote Shutter Release – $18

If you are photographing anything that requires your camera to be on a tripod, I would recommend using a remote shutter release. Why put your camera on a nice, sturdy tripod only to shake it around with your big, gammy hands? You can use 2-second delay, but if you’re wanting to play with long exposures and astrophotography, a remote shutter release is a must. It’ll take your shaky mitts off the camera and also allow you to leave the shutter open well past 30 seconds.

I’ve used Neewer’s models for years, but rarely use mine these days thanks to my camera’s ability to connect to my phone, which now acts as my shutter release (thanks again, Sony). I still keep the shutter release in my camera bag as a backup though.

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Filter Hive – $29

The debate over whether filters are necessary for photography anymore rages on, but until software can accurately replicate what you can do with a polarising or neutral density (ND) filter, I will continue to carry those precious, magical pieces of glass around. If you use filters (and you should), you’re gonna want to put them somewhere safe.

I use the MindShift Gear Filter Hive MINI. It holds four filters, and I know they’re safe from getting scratched or broken. Nothing is completely safe, though. If something can break, I will find a way. So far they’ve remained intact while safely in the filter hive.

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After a few years of travelling with my camera gear and constantly working to minimise it, these are my must-have travel photography accessories. There are other things I haven’t mentioned like memory cards, spare batteries, and gaffer tape to silence any uninvited company, but I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that you need that stuff.

If there’s anything you think I’ve missed or anything you can’t live without, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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Long Exposure Photography With The Lee Big Stopper [Review]

Long Exposure Photography With The Lee Big Stopper [Review]

lee big stopper review long exposure photography

After months of reading, researching, and trying to find ways to justify the expense, I decided my 30th birthday was a good enough reason to cough up some cash and bought myself a shiny new Lee Big Stopper. I don’t have any other square filters, so I also needed a filter holder kit and an adaptor ring for my 24-70mm lens.  Those extras bumped up the bill a fair bit, but I see them as an investment.

The Big Stopper is a 10-stop neutral density (ND) filter. In normal people speak, it’s a really dark piece of glass that covers the front of the lens. It limits the amount of light that gets in, meaning longer exposures are required.  Long exposures being the desired effect.

It means you can make photos during the day in full sunlight with a 30 second exposure.  It also means you can create long exposure photography in darker scenes with exposures lasting minutes.  Here’s a quick RAW comparison to show you what I mean:

Long-exposure comparison using a Lee Big Stopper neutral density ND filter See that gorgeous milky water? Pretty huh?

The above photos were taken just after sunset with no editing applied. The clouds don’t have a lot of movement, but there wasn’t a lot of wind, so they just weren’t moving very fast. The water, however, shows the long exposure photography effect beautifully. Unfortunately it also show EVERY little dust spot on my sensor, but that’s my own fault for not cleaning it enough.

In the short time that I’ve had the Big Stopper, I’ve found that it’s actually a lot easier to use than I expected. As the filter is too dark to see through, I thought that having to take the filter on and off to recompose or refocus would be a hassle. It turns out the Lee Foundation Kit / Filter Holder has a great system for quickly snapping the filter on and off the lens adaptor, making recomposing and focusing easy.

I also assumed that the exposure compensation would take some time, but if you have a solid understanding of the principles and practical use of exposure, it’s not a problem.  The only real issue I have had so far is that it’s just one more surface that I need to keep my greasy mitts off. Handling the filter regularly means there is a high chance of having to clean finger prints and smudges off.

I read a lot about the Big Stopper’s blue color cast before buying it. It seems to be a bit of a hang up for some people, but if you’re shooting RAW, it’s a simple white balance adjustment in Lightroom or Camera Raw, so the issue is kinda redundant.



Overall, I couldn’t be more happy with the Lee Big Stopper and Foundation Kit. Not only is the filter exactly what I was needing to add long exposures to my landscapes and seascapes, the filter holder system has now given me a foundation on which to build a complete filter system. It allows you to stack as many filters as I like, but realistically, I will likely just be using any combination of the ten-stop ND, neutral density graduated (ND grad), and circular polarizer (CP) filters.  Of course there are plenty of other filters available for anyone wanting to go crazy.

I did manage to get away last weekend to Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua and used the Big Stopper for a while before a huge storm rolled in and smashed the country. Here are a few shots from where I stayed at the Amora Lake Resort in Okawa Bay.

Long exposure of Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua, New Zealand from Amora Lake Resort. Long exposure lake photography
Long exposure photo of Amora Lake Resort, Okawa Bay, Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua. Long exposure lake photography
Long exposure of Lake Rotoiti, Rotorua, New Zealand from Amora Lake Resort. Long exposure lake photography

For Sale: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

For Sale: Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF wide zoom lens Nikon mountNikon 24-70mm f/2.8 Lens

UPDATE: Lens has gone to a new happy, loving home.

I’ve been umming and ahhing about the decision to sell this lens for some time. It’s just a piece of glass, but man I’ve gotten attached to it. I knew before I ever used it that this was the wide-angle zoom lens I wanted to replace my old kit lens when I upgraded to a full-frame Nikon body. I haven’t been disappointed. It’s been my go-to workhorse lens for just about everything. At 24mm it makes a solid landscape lens. At 70mm wide open it makes a stunning portrait lens. It’s sturdy, it feels solid in my hands, it’s smooth to operate, and man is it sharp! I’ve learnt to love it so much that I’ve often had to force myself to put another lens on my camera just so that I don’t get stuck in one perspective. I just keep coming back to it though.

You’re probably starting to ask why I’m selling this lens if I love it so much. I admit that writing this post is making me question the decision again. I have found myself photographing at the 70mm end of the zoom range less and less recently as I spend much more time at 24mm. With great edge-to-edge sharpness and very little distortion, it really does make a fantastic landscape lens, but I find myself wanting to go wider. There are more and more occasions where I find myself having to choose between having more foreground or sky in the frame, and I’d rather not have to choose. There are some very good choices out there for super-wide angle zoom lenses for full-frame Nikon cameras. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you about the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 super-duper wide zoom lens that comes with a super-duper price tag. There is also the Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 lens with a slightly less super price. The third option worth considering is the Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR lens. Those are three very good options, and I haven’t even mentioned third-party non-Nikon options from Sigma, Tokina, etc.

So, back to my reluctant sale. My little friend is in excellent condition. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have if you’re interested in buying it, or you can even come and have a play if you’re in town (Mount Maunganui, NZ). I travel regularly around the country, so hit me up and I’ll let you know if I’m headed your way.

I would prefer to sell this without using the abominable rip-off merchant that is Trade Me. The price will be kept lower that way and everyone wins! I’m asking $1990. Make me an offer. Please tell your photography buddies and share this around using the buttons below.

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