I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my years of travel photography. Malcom Gladwell said it best that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert. While I’m sure I haven’t reached the 10,000 hours of photography mark just yet here are 10 things you should consider checking before you leave on your next trip.
Make sure you’ve got full power before you leave. There is nothing worse than showing up at an exciting street scene and you can’t even snap a photo.
Spare Memory Cards
Sure you’ve got your SD card in your camera. What happens when you fill that in one evening because of that spectacular sunset and you don’t have a single card to spare for the remainder of the trip? I tend to know about how many photos I shoot on a typical vacation so I’ll plan to have sufficient memory cards for the duration. I stay away from transfering images directly to hard drives during my trips because I figure I can do that at home.
How many times have I come across a great scene, snapped a few photos of some passing spectical and then get home to see images that are soft and out of focus. Too many. The reason is usually that I forgot to switch from manual focus to autofocus after doing some manual focus work. Set all of you lenses to autofocus as you pack. That way you’ll be set for the spur of the moment shot.
ISO set in a Standard Range
After a long, cold, dark night of night sky photography or other low light work it is easy to forget about your ISO the next day. If you do, you’ll be shooting in full sun at ISO 6400 only to realize later when you are in Lightroom that your images are noisey because you forgot to readjust your ISO. Do yourself a favor and check that your ISO is set to 200-400 when you pack. You can always change it when needed.
Memory Cards Clean
It’s not enough just to pack memory cards. Make sure they are cleaned and empty as well. This will save you from having to delete images halfway through a card to find more space, or remove duplicates when importing. An easy trick to save time.
Even if you carry an extra camera battery and will just be gone for just one night bring your charger. You never know when you’ll need to charge.
Lens Cleaning Cloth
A shirt does a decent job of cleaning a lens in a pinch, but it doesn’t work well if you just dropped half a spanish bocadillo on yourself. That olive oil will definately smear. Bring a proper lens cloth. They are light, take up no room and are well worth it.
Do I really need to write anything.
Time Planned Without the Camera
As a photographer is it so easy to experience and entire trip looking through a lens. That’s great, but will you really remember the place for what it was? Be sure to leave the camera behind at least a few times. Get to now the smells and tastes, and people for what the are.. You might even come back with a great story to go with your pictures.
I had a nice shiny new 5d MKIII, about 3 weeks old at the time. I dropped it in China. I was sad.
So that wraps up my 10 things to check before your next trip. If you’ve got your own tips leave a comment.