What’s the most important item in your photography kit?

Above: I spotted this abandoned house and vintage bike near Te Anua, New Zealand. Photographed using my Canon 5DMK111 and 16-35mm lens @16mm F16 @1/250th sec processed using my Cuban Cigar Lite preset.

My TV binge-watching has hit an all time low. Last year I consumed television like a raw vegan crossfitter with only pure content sourced from the highest quality suppliers. I watched documentaries, high brow and high-quality dramas. Sadly like all good raw vegan crossfitters I fell off the wagon and for the last two months, I’ve been stuffing my soul with the TV equivalent of Cheetos and Krispy Kremes.

My fave show at the moment is the Australian version of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. It’s like a cross between Big Brother and Survivor.

Watching the show last night got me thinking, what if one day I had to pack up and move to the jungle? What would be my essential wilderness survival photography kit?

I decided to keep this interesting and limit the number of critical photography items to four and not include things like camera bags, batteries or memory cards.

So here is my wilderness survival kit.

Camera body

It doesn’t matter which one you take. Retro film camera from the 70s, entry level DSLR or smartphone. The best body is the one you will pick up and use every day.

If you buy a high-end camera, you are paying for the extra bells and whistles like weather seals, better image resolution, a full frame sensor, and easily accessible menu buttons. I’m yet to look at a fantastic image and be able to guess the camera used to take it.

Lens

Ok, lens choice matters. A shite lens on a high-end camera will produce shite images. A high-end lens on an entry level camera will produce great pictures. Don’t skimp on the lens choice when packing for the wilderness. Take the best lens you can afford.

A prime lens is always going to be sharper than a zoom lens, but a zoom lens is far more versatile. My jungle essential would be something like a 24-105mm lens on a full frame and a 17-55mm on an entry level camera.

If money is tight, check out second-hand options and third party lenses such as Sigma which are excellent these days.

Reflector

A good 5-in-1 reflector is also an essential in my wilderness survival kit. Being able to control contrast in my portraits is the difference between a good and a great image.

Mood

I started writing a list and trying to rate each body, lens, and accessory according to weight, versatility, and durability – which are all essential in the jungle. Then when I thought I’d created my ultimate list, I noticed that one of the celebrities in the show (the reality show that sparked this whole thought process) was beginning to struggle with his mood. It’s then that I realised that the most important item in my photography kit is not a camera body, nor is it the latest and greatest lens or wiz bang solar powered light with a pop-up beauty dish.

Having all the best gear in the world is completely useless if you are not in the right headspace. That’s why the majority of the work that I do focuses on keeping my mood positive. If I’m not feeling good mentally, I miss seeing the great light and beauty around me. Feeling low zaps my energy and short circuits my intuition. That voice that whispers “inspiration” all day long is not heard when my mood is low.

The best ways to maintain my happy place has been to exercise every day, avoid garbage food and toxic people and to control the content I listen to, read and watch.

What are your wilderness essentials and what do you do to maintain a positive mood? I’d love to hear about it.  Oh, and if anyone has invented a solar powered light with a beauty dish, please send me a link!

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