Homer Simpson has been having “D’Oh!” moments for over 20 years, which is funny when you’re an animated cartoon character. What isn’t so funny is when you have your own “D’Oh!” moments in real life. Then those moments become frustrating and annoying and you simply can’t believe you’d be that stupid and/or forgetful. Take this week for example. I planned a morning shoot about 40 minutes from home, I organised all my gear the night before. The plan was to test the Sigma 10-20mm lens that I’m playing with. I left home at my planned time, experienced no traffic along the way, arrived at the location, set up only to discover to my horror - the lens I had planned to shoot with was not in the car – D’Oh! But wait, it gets worse. I thought I would simply go with the flow and use another lens and shoot something else entirely. So far, so good. I continued with my shoot, alternating between lenses, subjects and locations and eventually made my way home. Uploading the images from the camera, I discovered that the photos from the first location were all out of focus – WHAT?! D’Oh! I checked the lens, as I had only used it for that location, and well, what a surprise, it was set at manual focus and I hadn’t even realised. Being myopic as I am, the images looked ok and they so clearly (pun...) weren’t. To add more insult to injury, the photos aren’t out of focus enough to be “arty”. They’re just rubbish.
The photography journey is riddled with D’Oh! moments. Sometimes we just don’t want to admit to them for fear someone will tap us on our shoulder and confiscate our camera gear. I can see it now – “Excuse me madam, I think I’ll take all this camera equipment from you. You clearly have no idea what you’re doing with all this.” So, to help you avoid your own D’Oh! moments in photography, below is a list of things to remember when you’re planning and attending your next shoot. They are all obvious and straight forward, but oh so easy to overlook. So before that mystery person comes up behind you tapping you on the shoulder and requesting you hand over your camera gear, take a look at the bleeding obvious:
1. Charge the camera battery the night before.
2. Make sure the back-up battery is also charged and in your camera bag. Today’s cameras are thirsty beasts.
3. Where are the memory cards you’ll be using? Is there one in the camera? Is it empty? If not, can those images be deleted? Place your spare memory cards in your camera bag. Now.
4. Are you meeting others for this shoot? Have you confirmed the time, place and date? You don’t want to attend the shoot in your pj’s because you didn’t have time to get dressed – although, as long as you have all your gear, the others would just think you’re eccentric, I guess. Tell them you do your best work when dressed in your pj’s.
5. If you know what you’ll be using for the shoot, gather it all together in the one place, so that you can pick it all up when you’re about to leave – no distractions when you’re doing this!
6. If you shoot a variety of subjects, before you commence your next shoot, check the camera settings. Sometimes in moments of distraction, this can be overlooked and the photographic moment can be lost.
7. Do you want to focus manually or let auto focus take over? Make your selection before you commence, and don’t rely on myopic eyes to approve of the image in the viewfinder. It won’t be artily OOF, I promise you that.
8. If you’re using a tripod and your lens has “image stabiliser”, then check whether it’s on or off. It should be set to off.
9. Get into the habit of putting your equipment back in the same spot each time. My camera bag has side pockets and a few internal pockets, and I try and place the same pieces of equipment in the same places. That way, at a glance I can see whether I have something missing.
10. If you have forgotten a crucial piece of equipment and can’t possibly commence the shoot, providing it’s not a client involved shoot, then simply sit back and enjoy your surrounds. You’ve obviously driven there because it was an appealing location, so enjoy it without a camera jammed up to your eye. It will certainly make a change to what you’re used to, and you might just see things you would have other missed.
If you can think of other absolutely bleeding obvious things to remember and you’d like to share, then pop in a comment, so that we can
all laugh all learn from the bleeding obvious. Afterall, how else do we learn, but from our mistakes?