Out and Back Safely
As a landscape photographer your goal is to get outdoors and find great photographs to bring back home and show – and/or sell if you are a pro|am photographer like myself. But being in the right physical condition to head out into the great outdoors on your own and having a few essential pieces of gear are always important. One of the first things I do before heading out from my base location is to set a waypoint in my GPS device for my home base location. In that way no matter where I wind up during a day or evening of shooting I can just hit “go to” my home base entry and the GPS will guide me back to home base. The reason this is important is that as you drive around a shooting area you may loose track of which turn you took after being out shooting all day. Being able to hit “Home” will make it quicker and easier to find your way back.
Next, on my list of important things to do when going out is make sure you have the right clothing for the type of outing you are going on. Going out into a brushy area? Wear long pants and socks and not those cargo shorts with all the convenient pockets. Be sure to think about where you will be going and dress accordingly. Nothing can cut a great photo outing shorter than being uncomfortable or being eaten up by mosquitoes because you didn’t plan ahead and bring bug spray. Take a moment to think beyond how it looks outside right now. Check out the weather forecast and toss in any items that the forecast indicates you might need. Floppy hat to keep the sun off your neck? Rain jacket? Change of shirts so that when you get back to your car after getting sweaty from hiking that you have a nice dry top to put on? Think ahead to what you might encounter during your outing and bring the gear that will make your outing not only safe – but enjoyable.
For those times when you are going to be hiking off the beaten path – take food and water with you. Doing so will allow you to stay out longer when your stomach says it is time for food. Not only that, should you get stuck it is always easier to stave off panic and think more clearly when you know you have food and liquids. I recommend taking a variety of energy or protein bars as they fit into a camera bag without much weight.
By the way, be sure to always have some kind of small flashlight with you – day or night. A small LED flashlight of about 25 lumens will give off enough light to find your way down a path at night or locate a memory card in your camera bag when needed. You can get LED flashlights at most major sporting goods stores for about $25 and they are about the size of a thick pencil, but can illuminate your way in the darkest of nights. Put one in your bag just for the peace of mind.
It never hurts to let someone know when and where you will be going – and tell them you will let them know when you return. Do this and follow through with that person every time. So, if the time ever comes that something happens and they do not hear from you when they expected it will trigger them to raise a flag. If they know you consistently check back in upon return, the one time they do not hear from you will trigger them into action – which can make the difference between waiting a short time for help or never getting any help at all.
Get outdoors with your camera – go have fun and be creative with your shots.