Once in a while we all forget something simple while packing up or shooting, I know I do, so I made this list as a reminder. We all make mistakes, but we don’t always heed the lesson. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
- Are your batteries charged? Check camera, flashes, lights etc. Bring extras.
- Do you have a memory card, film, or a tape? Make sure you have proper and sufficient media.
- Are your lenses clean? They should be, or at least not have any fingerprints on them. When you are using a dust brush, hold the lens upside down so that the dust has somewhere to go and you aren’t just spreading it over the glass. Get a LensPen, it has a brush and cloth tip. Brush before wiping clean, so that there is no dust being smeared around.
- Do you have all cables, cords and accessories? Bring extras in case one craps out. I’ve had a couple of PC cords die while out shooting, and I couldn’t use a flash for the rest of the day.
- Have you picked the best composition for the shot? Use an angle and lens that shows the difficulty of a trick; If its a gap, shoot from the side to show the distance. For high airs, include environmental cues for reference. Of course these are not rules of any sort, but just remember to show every part of the trick so that you wouldn’t have to explain something like “He had zero run-up” or “There was a car five feet from his landing”. Show it in the photo. You are essentially writing a story with a photograph; don’t forget any key parts.
- Are your flashes safe? Check out the light stand safety article. Also you should make sure all cords are fully plugged in; some plugs don’t fit snug in the the flash. I use rubber bands to to secure the connection.
- Do you have enough film or space to shoot until the trick is landed? You don’t want to have to hold up the rider to change cards or get another tape from your bag. This is especially true if the spot is a bust, which they usually are. Always be ready.
- Is your camera properly focused? I have botched too many shots by not paying attention to my focus. Have someone hold a focus chart in the exact spot the rider will be for the photo. If you are uncertain, it is always better to focus too close rather than too far. Also remember to turn off autofocus once you have a proper focus. Autofocus will delay your shot and possibly ruin the shot.
- Are all your settings correct? Check your f/stops and shutter speeds between shots. I have accidentally hit a dial and changed a setting inadvertently. Most of the time it won’t ruin the shot, but it can be catastrophic if you accidentally have your shutter speed too fast for the flashes to sync.