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Tips and techniques

NATURE’S VIEW: Whatchamacallits and thingamajigs (Part Two) Story and photographs by Jim Clark

By July 12, 2015No Comments

It’s the little things that help in our photography

Summer Scene - Monroe County, West Virginia. (c) Jim Clark

Summer Scene – Monroe County, West Virginia. (c) Jim Clark

In Part I, I suggested a few items to consider packing before venturing into nature to take photographs. This article continues that focus with a few more helpful doodads.

Plastic Bags: These are probably the most indispensable items you can have. They serve as rain covers for cameras, lenses and packs. They keep you dry when photographing at belly level. I use them to keep organized in my flower and close-up photography. I place all the items I’ll be using directly on a plastic bag so each is easy to find when I need it, and I know where everything is when it’s time to leave.

77mm Close-up Diopter and Step-down Rings: When traveling by air, weight is a factor in deciding how much gear to bring. To replace my macro lenses, I often bring a 77mm close-up diopter instead. With a set of step-down rings–which allows the use of this large filter diopter on smaller diameter lenses–all my lenses become macro lenses.

Extra Quick-Release Plates: My workshop students often lose or misplace the only quick-release plate they have and become stuck handholding their gear. Keep an extra one or two in your camera bag. For folks using the dovetail, slip on-slip off quick-release plates, get a universal quick- release plate that works with just about any camera or lens model.

LCD Monitor Loupe: I love my loupe! As a workshop instructor, it allows me to do a quick, glare-free review of my students’ images on their LCD monitors, checking for composition and sharpness. I use this handy gadget to view images on my own camera’s LCD monitor as well.

Compact 12-inch Reflector: If I forget my diffusers, I can always use my wide-body girth to diffuse the sun when doing close-up photography. However, I have a difficult time positioning my bald head as a reflector. So instead, I carry a compact 12-inch reflector that is gold on one side and silver on the other.

Compact Multi-tool Kits & Jeweler’s Tools: A variety of compact multi-tools are available on the market. I have one that includes a set of different sized hex-and-screw bits that can repair just about any tripod or quick-release plate ever made. I have another small multi-tool that includes a hammer, pliers, screwdriver, nail extractor, wire cutter, knife and other tools. I have a jeweler’s tool kit as well, which is handy for tightening loose reading glasses and such.

Photography Workshop Emergency Case: I keep a small canvas bag equipped with all the items I have listed so far, plus extras of each and a few other items that I haven’t mentioned. This bag becomes a go-to emergency kit for my workshops, and I can’t tell you how it has transformed a bad situation to a lifesaving one for some students. I now keep it in my vehicle at all times.

Trees in Summer Fog - Beartown State Park, West Virginia. (c) Jim Clark

Trees in Summer Fog – Beartown State Park, West Virginia. (c) Jim Clark


A past NANPA president, Jim is a contributing editor for Outdoor Photographer and nature photography instructor for Chincoteague Bay Field Station, Wallops Island, Virginia. The author/photographer of six books, Jim is particularly proud of two children’s books he did with his son Carson. He was also a major contributor to the book, Coal Country. Visit Jim’s website at, blog at or visit him on Facebook.