Easy Photo Tip: 3 Essential Photo Accessories For Springtime Photography

Just as certain as the crocus and grape hyacinth that burst on the scene seemingly from nowhere, another sure sign of spring is my reliance on a few familiar gadgets to help me celebrate the season. Here are three of the accessories I’d be hard pressed to do without.

In my part of the world, spring means color. We can tolerate the cold and snow that winter brings, but it’s impossible to forgive December and January for turning the world into a drippy, grey-brown visual ghetto that’s about as photogenic as a four foot length of pig intestine. In comes spring, and rose-in-hand, vibrant yellows and purples and reds and—especially—greens return to delight the eye and invite the photographer to venture out and about.

Then of course, once you’re outside, finally taking pictures again after what seemed like an eternity of cabin fever—it rains.

My number one, very most favorite photo accessory is a 30-gallon heavy-duty plastic garbage bag. Personally, I use Hefty, but any brand that Jackie Chan endorses is okay. A plastic garbage bag can be used to protect your camera equipment, as a ground cover so that you can kneel to shoot close-ups of the sprouting bulbs, or even as a rain suit in a pinch. Most camera bags have a useless pocket in front or back where they imagine you’ll carry your pencils and car keys. I always stuff those pockets with garbage bags and believe me—they’ve saved my bacon many times.

Next on my “must” list for spring shooting is a Macro lens. I don’t mean a Macro Zoom, I mean a real, honest to pork fat Macro lens. I have a Fujifilm 60mm f/2.4 XF Macro lens for my X-T1 and it’s nothing short of magnificent. But most of the time I find myself using my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 on my full-frame Nikon D800 because it has outstanding sharpness, delivers 1:1 magnification ratio on a full 35mm size sensor and—most of all—utilizes Tamron’s very effective VC image stabilization system. Why is a macro so important? Flowers, bugs, dew—all of those things that winter kept hidden—that’s why.

The third item is useful year-round, of course, but it always seems to bring out the best spring has to offer. The polarizing filter may not be the most important filter you can buy, but without doubt, it is the one that all photographers should own.

Polarizers are sold with a single purpose—to reduce or eliminate surface reflections and thereby improve color rendition. Of course, that means they allow us to see beneath the surface of water. A fortunate byproduct is that they also darken a blue sky without changing its color. And one more benefit that’s often overlooked—they double as a Neutral Density filter, usually absorbing two stops of light. That’s what it’s doing here in this shot of the young female photographer who apparently has the best seat in the house.

Those are my three “must haves” for spring photography. What are yours?

—Jon Sienkiewicz