Am I preaching to the converted?
Ever gone on a shoot and forgotten something? I have. If you’re like me you will have a bag packed ready. But, check the night before. Things may have changed. Here is some help.
The night before you go is the first time you should check your equipment. That’s the time to realise you need to charge your batteries. Yes, always have more than one – you don’t want to run out. Charge both. If you have an off-camera flash, check they are up to power too. I use rechargeable batteries in my flashes. So I charge them. But you may have standard disposable ones. Have fresh ones on hand.
Check you have a memory card in the camera and at least one spare. A corrupt card is as good as stopping your shoot if you have no spare. Oh, and make sure you downloaded the previous shoot. I turned up to a shoot once with a card nearly full of my previous shoot. I had not had time to post process them. OK, no problem. Ah! Had I downloaded them? Er… I could not remember. Then, eeek! I had no spare card. One full, no spare. It cost me an hour to find a shop for a new card – I was not impressed with the card either, but no choice. How stupid did I feel when I got back and found out I had downloaded the previous shoot. I could have used the card I had. Better safe than sorry.
Choose your lenses if you have more than one. Also check they are clean, properly packed and have lens caps. Camera bags are generally made of very harsh material. If the glass rubs against the material it will rub off the coating and may scratch the glass. Look after your lenses and they will last for years. Got clean lens cloths? Make sure you do… you may need to clean up while out. Oh, I have an extender for my 70-200mm. It takes the lens up to 280mm – enough for most long shots. Don’t forget lens accessories. And, if you think you are going to need them, what about filters?
Check your camera straps for damage. The little slits the straps go through gradually wear the strap. If a strap breaks your pride and joy will crash to the ground! Check the straps and zips on your camera bag are good too.
Got your tripod? Ah, but have you got the quick release plate? I forgot one once and had a day of really hard shots and poor results.
I normally carry three different light modifiers. They are a little honeycomb for focussed, hard light and a strap on diffuser which directs the light in one direction for soft wide focussed light. Finally, a plastic diffuser for popping on top of the flash for all-round bounce light to give wide-spread light. So, check your modifiers. If you don’t have any get some. Flash is too harsh for most shots.
Ha ha! I am not joking actually. I once went on a shoot with a great friend. He had a new Canon 7D – proud as punch. He turned up on our shoot with a wonderful camera bag. In it was everything he needed for the shoot – except the camera body. He had left it on the table at home. Fortunately I was able to lend him one of my spares.
Sundry other items may be important too… Torch? Large plastic sack to cover everything in a sudden shower? Map? Tablets? Sandwiches, drinks, money? Well you get the idea. Everyone’s list is personal, so work out what is meaningful for you.
Going on a shoot for a day or more is a complex business. Your day can be ruined or shortened if you are not prepared. So why not make check lists. One for the night before, one for the morning before you go. Go through everything you have an then put it on the list. Then, check it all in complete confidence that you will have a great day.