A Wider Angle: May 2012, by Geoff Dickinson
In 1942, the BBC introduced a radio programme called Desert Island Discs. The idea is that a famous person is asked to choose eight pieces of music they would take with them to a deserted island, and talk about what the tracks mean to them. At the end of each programme, the guest is sent into imaginary exile, along with their choice of a book, a luxury and one of their eight records. The show recently celebrated its 70th birthday.
And that got me thinking: photography has unlimited scope for acquiring new kit and at some point we hit the law of diminishing returns where the results hardly justify the extra expense. So, if you were to be cast away on some desert island, what photography kit would you choose? Or, in other words, what do you REALLY need in the way of gear? For the purposes of this little game I have only one concession and one rule. The concession is that the island has a working solar power supply. The rule is that if you have an SLR camera the body counts as one choice.
So here’s my personal choice with my reasons.
- My DSLR – this allows me maximum creativity. My compact can do most of what my SLR can but my SLR has the edge in control and flexibility. It does mean though that I have to choose a lens which counts for my second choice.
- My 50mm standard, fixed length lens – this is much sharper than my kit zoom lens and gives a very bright image thanks to its “fast” aperture. It has a nice perspective and the ability to blur the background that makes close ups seem to “pop out”. To get a zoom effect, I just have to move my feet. The lens is lightweight and simple to use.
- A microfibre cloth to keep my lens clean. I have only one lens so this means I don’t have to remove it from the body so cleaning inside should not, in theory, need to be done.
- My Gorillapod – this is a bendable tripod that can grip to any surface. It is light and easily carried and makes a good, stable platform to prevent camera shake.
- My flashgun – my SLR can take an add-on flash unit with a “bounce” head which allows me to fill in subjects on a bright day and to bounce my flash using the built in card for a better, more diffuse light effect.
- My Lowe waistpack that I can use to carry items 3, 4 and 5. It is easy to grab what I need and I am not fiddling round taking off a back pack and missing a shot.
- My laptop – this contains my complete photo collection. Enough said.
- Adobe Lightroom 3 – this piece of software helps me to catalogue over 10,000 images and to develop, improve or get creative with those images.
So there you have it; my personal list of essential camera gear for my desert island experience. Your list will probably be different but I hope it gives you something to ponder next time you go on a field trip.
See you around. Geoff