The Always List
You have to be fairly organized and deliberate when you go out with the intention to take pictures. If you do not plan well and end up short of memory cards, you have to do the “delete in order to take” dance like I did when I visited the Grand Canyon. Or you have to switch to your iPhone camera because you have no back up battery. Or you take a ton of pictures on ISO 3200 which was great the night before, but a really poor choice in the light of day. To prevent those photographic catastrophes, I use what I call my Always List.
Before I leave home for a photography shoot, I always check to see that I have my back up battery. One of the features of my new Olympus camera body is enhanced battery life, so I find one back up battery is enough. When I was using the old body I always carried two. By the way, I always know that the battery in my camera is charged. I do that, first thing without fail, when I return from a photography shoot. I also learned, the hard way, to just ante up and buy batteries from Olympus. Yep, they are much more expensive than the generic brands. If you are using generic batteries for your camera, take an extra-extra.
I always check to see that I have extra memory cards. I use 8 gig cards exclusively. One of my photography teachers suggested that using the smaller cards is less risky. If something goes wrong, you stand to lose less. It is also measurably easier to upload my pictures onto an iPad with a card reader when there are fewer files on the card. Since I travel a lot, this allows me to review pictures and even do post processing while I am on the go. On a day trip I carry two extra 8 gig cards. If I am going on a long trip, I pack ten 8 gig cards cards and one 32 gig card, just for insurance. My files are only 20 MB. If your files are larger, you might want to use a larger card or take more cards with you.
If I have to change memory cards, I always check to see what is on the new one that I am putting into the camera. I want to assure myself that the pictures have been downloaded to my computer. I then reformat the card. You always want to choose reformat over erase. Cards that are just erased tend to carry extraneous data that increases the likelihood of card failure over time.
When it is time to start taking pictures, I always check my camera settings, starting with ISO. I want to use ISO 200 if it is sunny, ISO 400 if it is cloudy or if I am in a city where there is a lot of shade created by tall buildings and ISO 800 if it is a particularly dark day. As a street photographer, I find it useful to toggle between Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. I set the Shutter Priority at 1/500 sec and Aperture Priority at f/2.8, which is my widest aperture setting through all focal lengths. These settings, especially ISO, may change, depending on the shooting conditions.
Finally, I always check the weather forecast. I want to make certain that I will be warm enough or cool enough or protected from the rain.
There is always room for something to be added to an Always List. When I got to the top of Cape Horn my glasses flew off and I lost a lens which, of course, was the lens for the one eye I was seeing well out of at that time. For the first time, ever, I had not carried a back up pair of glasses and I had to scramble for the remainder of the trip. What can I say? You have to be fairly organized and deliberate when you go out with the intention to take pictures.
Do you have a formal “Always List”? If there is something on your list that I have failed to mention, please share it with me. And to turn a phrase, I would be delighted if you “always” tagged #dbwstreet