Outfitting for Outdoor Photography
I’m not what you might call a well-dressed man. My typical outfit consists of jeans, black t-shirts, and moccasins, except when shooting nature photos in the field. Depending on the type of shooting I’m doing and the typical weather conditions, I transform my wardrobe to accommodate the conditions at hand. When shooting in the field, you’ll need to outfit yourself with appropriate clothing, or your outing can become a miserable experience. When getting ready to venture out for nature shooting, keep these ideas in mind regarding clothing.
■ Shoes and booties. I consider wearing the appropriate footwear just as important as using the right tripod for the job. For short hikes (a few miles or less) in any terrain, I’ll always recommend low-cut hiking shoes. I wear the Columbia Omni-Grip type. These boots (or pairs like them) are lightweight, moisture-proof, and have great soles for hiking in rocky, sandy, or grassy areas. For longer hikes, the kind that take days to do, I recommend more appropriate boots designed for hikers. See your local outfitter for more recommendations.
■ Pants and shirts. Any sports store or outfitter will offer pants and shirts that are designed for extreme outdoor conditions for any season. Strongly consider visiting these stores; you’ll be amazed at the offerings. It’s a good idea to have separate sets of clothing tailored toward winter, spring, summer, and fall. For winter garb, go for warmth first, weight second. For spring, look for layered shirts/sweaters, and for summer, choose lightweight shorts, pants, and shirts.
■ Hats. Being follically challenged, I especially need to wear hats on sunny days. Whether you’re spending very short periods of time or extensive hours out in the sunlight, the sun is a sure recipe for skin problems ranging from sunburn to, even worse, skin cancer. Make sure you protect your head and face with a good hat. Baseball hats are okay for short excursions, but wider-brimmed hats offer better protection for your face and neck. Always carry sunblock with you and use it wherever possible-in all seasons, just not summer.
■ Jackets. I’m a big fan of those new-fangled fashion-correct ski jackets by Columbia, Head, Lands’ End, and other higher-end sportswear outfitters. They offer jackets with removable layers, perfect for ever-changing outdoor conditions and for the outdoor photographer. If you’re out shooting in the winter, pay attention to what skiers wear-they know how to keep warm in the extreme elements!
■ Gloves. Unless most of your outdoor shooting is done in warm climates or during the summer, you’ll need some good-quality waterproof gloves. I prefer gloves that offer warmth, moisture protection, and rubber bases to make it easier for me to fiddle with knobs and buttons on my digital cameras. When I’m out shooting in temperatures warmer than freezing, I prefer gloves with the fingertips exposed. Carry both winter and fingerless gloves with you in your camera bag.