Friday, May 24, 2013

Pre-shoot checklists for an amateur photographer

Though I carry my DSLR with me the most of time, there were instances when I have missed some interesting shots. Or, some of those shots I managed to capture turned out to be unacceptably poor quality ones due to inappropriate settings on my camera. Or, sometimes camera refused to turn on due flat battery. The worst cases were when the whole set of photos taken during an event or tour got spoiled due to some settings that were hardly noticeable on the camera's LCD display, and became apparent only when the images were loaded to a computer. An example was the graininess resulting from a high ISO setting.

After a number of setbacks and the same mistakes found to be repeated, I decided to create a checklist and to keep a copy of it in my camera bag. Here is my latest checklist:

Camera and lenses
  1. Cleanliness of
    • Lenses
    • Camera body
    • Eye-piece / view finder
  2. The right lens attached to the camera (depending on the photoshoot)
  3. Settings or fittings on the lens(es)
    • Auto focus ON
    • Image-stabilization / vibration-reduction ON
    • Appropriate filter(s) attached
    • Lens hood attached
  4. Camera mode 
    • Manual (M) - if the exact settings required (shutter speed, aperture, ISO) could be guessed in advance
    • Program (P) - to take photos instantly without thinking much (especially for outdoor)
  5. ISO setting
    • Auto ISO or ISO with upper bound setting
    • Preferred ISO
  6. Exposure compensation = 0
  7. Focus point
    • Auto / all
    • Centre 
  8. Focus mode
    • AI Servo
    • One-shot
  9. Image output type = RAW
  10. Metering mode = Centre weighted
  11. Drive mode = Single / multi
  12. Battery level
  13. Empty memory card or enough remaining memory space 
Flashes and lighting kits
  1. Main flash
    • Mode = TTL/Manual
    • Flash exposure = 0
    • Battery level
    • Diffusers
    • Master flash setting (if slaves are to be synchronized)
  2. Slave flash
    • Slave mode
    • Trigger settings
    • Brackets/clamp, stand, umbrella/softbox
  3. Reflectors
Camera bag
  1. Extra batteries (all of them fully charged)
  2. Extra memory card(s)
  3. Lenses
  4. Cleaning kit (cloth, blower, brush, liquid)
  5. Wired/wireless shutter release
  6. Lens filters
  7. Weather protection bag
  8. Notebook and a pen
  9. Backup camera (whenever necessary/available)
  10. Torchlight (US flashlight)
Other items
  1. Tripod / Gorillapod / Monopod
  2. Quick release plates
And, the last but not the least, take few test shots!

On a side note, I keep plentiful of rechargeable batteries. Upon charging batteries, I put them in cases to indicate that they are the fully charged ones. Once taken off the cases, I use the batteries until they loose their last drop of juice to reduce the number of recharging cycles batteries go through for their prolonged life. The exceptions are the critical photoshoots for which I load with fully charged batteries in all my equipment, and the removed ones will go through a recharging cycle. 

Disclaimer: This checklist may not be complete. Inputs are welcome to make it better.

Related posts:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for providing such a great article, it was excellent and very informative.
    as a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed.
    thank you :)