So I’m getting ready to go on my first big photo outing since my car accident, back in March. I’m a little nervous and hesitant, as I’ll be on my feet and walking all day.  Anyway, I was getting my things together and prepping my equipment, when I had a call from a friend.  He gently reminded me to put a memory card into my camera immediately.  He did this because it wasn’t that long ago that he and I went on a local trip and I found myself without a card of any kind.  I was lucky enough that he had an extra one that worked for me.  So I thought it a good idea to create a list of items to review and help me get it right before I go out into the field.

So this list will be different depending on the type of shoot you’re going to be attending.  So firstly let’s look at the basic equipment end of what needs to be done.  I like to do either an intense cleaning or a quick clean. It just depends on how long it’s been since the last though cleaning I did and how things look.  So the entire outing will be for naught if your batteries aren’t charged.  I have two and whether I’m going for an entire day or week or hour, I fully charge them both, and bring the charger with me.  Likewise I look to see if there is anything on my memory cards and format them in the camera.  While I rarely use more than one card I have had an era message on my camera telling that the card was not working.  So it will never hurt to pack one or two extras.  One battery, and one card go right into the camera and the extras go into a zippered pouch so they are easy to find in the bag.  This goes into the cargo compartment of my camera bag with a cable release, lens wipes, a lens brush, a micro fiber cloth, 2 multi tools, one for allen keys and one with knives, pliers and such.  In that compartment there is also my circular polarizer, and variably ND filter, and knee pads.  The older I get the more I need this last accessory.

Then I start working on the camera itself.  I clean the viewfinder, the sensor, the flange where the lens attaches, and the nooks and crannies of the camera body including the wheels, dials, hot shoe, battery compartment, and any metal connections.  Next I set out my lenses and start with the magnifying lighted viewer that I used to clean the sensor, and use it on the lens glass.  I start with the soft brush made for cleaning lenses.  Then I use wet wipes also made specifically for cleaning camera lens, and use it on the edges where the filter threads are.  Once you’ve done that though don’t use it on the glass again.  Here it’s important to clean the glass from the middle to the outside in a circular motion.  Then finish with the micro cloth.  Don’t forget the front and rear lens caps, they tend to collect a lot of dust, and to have cleaned the glass and then cover it with a dusty cover really kind of defeats the purpose.  After I’ve done all this I mount the mid-range zoom, 18mm to 70mm.  The others are placed in their respective cubbies in the camera bag, with the extension tubes and rain cover, so that everything is in its place.

There are some other considerations to take into account, clothing for example.  Check the weather and make sure that you have all your bases covered.  It’s better to have a jacket that you leave in the car and not need than to need a coat and sit in the car yourself because it’s too cold or wet.  Also appropriate shoes for place you’re going to shoot at.  Are you hiking in the woods, or mountains?  You’ll be better served with water proof hiking shoes than sneakers.  Or perhaps shooting street photography, or a museum, here you’re going to be much better off with something very comfortable.  Comfort is the key to all things in attire.  Gloves, shoes, rain gear, waders, ice cleats, whatever it takes to get to where the pictures are.

I will almost always take some snacks, drinks, a sandwich or two, some money, because I’ll almost always go out to eat for one meal if I’m out all day, make sure my phone is charged, take the extra phone charger for the car, my Bluetooth headset, tripod and camera bag, put it all together so that in the morning all I have to do is put it all in the car.  That reminds me, if I’m driving I’ll try to gas up as well.

This will help ensure that I have a good and productive time in the field.  There is an old saying that I have taken the liberty to transpose to a photographic application.  A bad day shooting pictures is better than a good day at work.

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