DIY Lens Hood.
Can't find your lens hood well like any scout out there you should be prepared! OK I don't mean you should carry the items but at the very least should know what to do if it ever happens to you. You will need some cardboard and an elastic band. Here's what to do cut the cardboard into a 2 inch strip (this can be increased or decreased depending on your lens) roll the cardboard around the lens and use the elastic band to secure the cardboard. Before shooting check that your new lens hood does not appear in your shots at your lens widest angle. This lens hood is great for shooting through glass as it cuts out reflection and you can press right up to the glass.
DIY bean bag.
Have you got one of those beanie bags that can be used for all sorts of things like resting your camera on down low and then shooting an image? Well to save some space and on your baggage allowance. Why not take a home made one. What you need before you leave is a small resealable plastic bag and a cloth outer the cloth outer can be easily made as follows with a square piece of material sew two edges leaving one open. When you get to your destination buy some dried beans, peas etc.. Fill the plastic bag with what you bought insert the plastic bag into the cloth outer hey presto home made beanie bag. When you have finished or coming home empty out plastic bag and you can then reuse on you next holiday.
When going on a night shot take a small torch may sound silly but many people don't bother. When they get to the site of the shoot they can't see their equipment in their bags the settings on the camera are difficult to read etc, etc... A torch makes it easy to read the dials. OK your camera has a backlight but this uses battery power and could end with you having a flat battery half way though a shoot. If you are shooting somewhere and know that there may be light from cars etc.. Have a black mat cloth handy to cover the lens note the length of time the cloth is covering the lens and then add that to your remaining exposure time. Use a tripod when shooting at night this ensures your images are clear and sharp. If possible also use a shutter release cable while the camera in on a tripod this stops camera shake, if you have not got a cable release more and more cameras now a days come with a self timer to open the shutter. Remember if you are near traffic.
When taking pictures remember to take loads why well the shot that looks good in your view finder may not be the shot that's any good when you get home and look at it in you photo editing software it could be un-sharp slightly blurred etc... So take a lot of each image that way at least one will be of the required standard. I know this contradicts what I have just said but leave a few shots left on you media card for your journey home, you just don't know what you might come across and it would be a shame to miss out just because your media card was full.
Buying a camera.
I always say buy the best you can afford. When you have decided on the camera of your dreams remember that the media card that comes with your camera proberly only holds a few images at the highest resolution of your camera. When I bought my Fuji it came with a 16 Meg card at the highest resolution I couldn't fit one image on the card!!! Once you have your camera remember you will need some sort of media card to hold images I would recommend 512MBs for a 4 mega pixel models, and 1GB for a 6 mega pixels and up why? Well if you paid loads for your camera always shoot at the highest resolution that way if you manage to shot a politician or footballer doing something they shouldn't be doing at a low resolution it would only be able to be printed at a credit size where as the higher the resolution the greater chance a magazine will buy or at least give you a by-line credit for your work which could pay for your camera! To see what size you image can be printed at in a magazine check out Commercial Printing Information (CPI) small program I wrote to see how large an image could be printed in a magazine.
John Hutchison has been a professional photographer on and off since 1981, he gained an LBIPP in 1990 from the British Institute of Professional Photographers so he has first hand experience! He worked for a newspaper for over 12 years dealing with flat copy and digital images till the begining of this year.