Going out on a Photo Shoot? Plan ahead!

March 05, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Recently I spent my day in the car driving to Oban then travelling down to the little port of Tarbert before getting the ferry back home (6 hours in total!). It was a pleasant drive and Pip loved playing with the ball on the beach but the tide was in instead of out, the light was too strong  and when I checked my bag I had only packed one half used battery. In the end I came back empty handed in terms of photos.  

GOING OUT ON A PHOTO SHOOT?

On Location - Iceland - JokulsarlonOn Location - Iceland - JokulsarlonOn location at the southern end of Iceland in mid Winter. Temperatures got down to -10C and we had a lot of deep snow. From this position close to the shore I was shooting images of the turquoise blue icebergs on the black volcanic beach. As time went on I ventured a lot closer to the icy water which surges up the beach sucking everything in it's path as it returns. Not somewhere to put down a lens, or filter box, you had to keep one eye on the incoming waves as you shot the image otherwise risk having boots filled with ice cold water!
The trip to Iceland required a lot of planning and careful attention to equipment. I had with my my Lowepro camera bag, my Canon 5D Mark II and my 40D just in case of accidents. I took several lenses as well as my Gitzo tripod and my all important Lee Neutral Density filter set. The Rab down jacket, boot and hand warmers ensured that despite the cold I was able to keep warm. The most difficult part is keeping your fingers warm enough to make the tiny movements needed to ensure you are in focus and I found that products from HEAT Company in Germany work really well.

PLAN AHEAD! 

Photography is all about the light. You can't control light but you can give yourself a better chance of getting a decent shot if you make sure you are in the right place at the right time with the right gear!

Here are a few mistakes I have made over the years that led to disappointment and frustration. 

  •              Slept too late so the light was too bright by the time I reached my spot
  •              Forgot to check the fuel level in the car the night before - no petrol stations in the countryside! 
  •              Forgot to charge the spare battery so ran out in the middle of the shoot
  •              Forgot the tripod/the filter set or a spare memory card
  •              Didn't check the route so got lost - spent 4 hours round trip and got nada!
  •              Forgot to check the time of the tide - either in or out it was not what I hoped for
  •              Forgot to pack something warm to drink and something small to eat so got cold and hungry
  •              Didn't pack a headtorch so stumbled around in the dark and stepped in the bog - wet feet ugh!

 

These things always seem to happen just when the light is perfect and you miss out so here are a few tips on how to get yourself organised and avoid disappointment. 

  • In the days beforehand, do a check of your kit and make sure you have everything you need for the terrain. There are the obvious and the not so obvious things on the list. Here are some of the less obvious - head torch, gaiters, midge repellant, spare socks, waterproof trousers (especially if like me, you like kneeling on the beach), lens wipes and hankies (especially for the beach), a towel in the car to dry off your camera

  • Check the weather forecast - you can shoot in a lot of weather if you are well prepared but sometimes it is as well to abandon the plan if it is going to be just too wet and windy

  • Organise your bag the night before so that all you do is pick it up and walk out the door

  • Stay warm! I use some great hand and foot warmers from The Heat Company in Germany. They also do great fingerless mitts which are great in really wet windy conditions

  • Check the route and how long it takes to get there and make sure you leave enough time and have enough fuel - plan to be there about an hour before you need to so you have time to set up and find the best spot before the light gets really nice. 

  • Clean your kit and replace what is needed as soon as you get back from a trip rather than just before you want to go out. This is especially important if you have been to the beach as sand lying around in your bag will scratch lenses and filters. I often use the vacuum to get the sand off my straps and out of the creases inside the bag

  • Take at least one spare battery and photocard - batteries run out pretty fast in cold weather and there is nothing worse than having to delete photos on your photocard if they are not backed up elsewhere.

  • Check the time of dawn or sunset for the time and day you plan to be there. There is a really handy tool called the Photographer's Ephemeris which comes as an App. This tells you the time of sunrise and sunset but it also gives you the direction of the light which means you can choose your location ahead of time. 

  • Also, if going to a beach check tide times. You need to stay safe so if you are arriving in the dark you have to know whether the tide is coming in or going out before you select your position. Always know how you are getting off the beach in case you need to move quickly. 

  • Pick your location and try to stick to it - sometimes it is tempting to move around a lot but good light doesn't last long so if you do that you risk losing the best of the light. 

 

  • ​And lastly, LOOK BEHIND YOU! Don't get into a situation where you can't step back!

 

Last time they saw Bill........

Last-time-they-saw-bill-the-photographerLast-time-they-saw-bill-the-photographer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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