Has it happened to you that you arrive on location for landscape shots and realize you forgot to do or bring something? Landscape photographer Toma Bonciu has created a checklist of things you mustn’t forget if you are into landscape photography.
Where I come from, we have the expression: “A smart man writes it down; a fool tries to memorize it”. Something like that. Anyways, I believe it’s always better to make checklists, especially when you have a lot on your mind. And this is the list you can write down and have on you every time you prepare for the shot, while you’re on location, and when you get home.
1. Check batteries and memory cards – you wouldn’t like to get on location and realize the battery is almost dead and you don’t have enough memory cards. So, before you head for the shoot, check if the batteries are charged and if all the cards are there. I’d say you also need to check if other pieces of gear are packed, like the remote trigger, as you’re gonna need it for the shoot.
2. Check if lenses are clean – before you leave, check if the lenses are clean, and make sure to clean them at home if they aren’t.
3. Check if the filters are clean – the same goes for filters as for the lenses. The smudges on both of them could ruin the shot, and you may not be able to see it before you return home.
4. Check if the tripod is stable and tight – sometimes, the tripod legs can get loose and you need to tighten them with a hex key. It’s better to do it at home than waste your time on it when you get to the location.
5. Make sure that the tripod plate is in place – before you leave, make sure that the tripod plate is either on the tripod, or attached to the camera. Toma suggests it, and I agree – I learned it the hard way that this is something you should check before you leave.
6. Check the weather forecast – it sounds logical, but many people forget it. Check the weather forecast before you leave, so you can prepare adequately for any weather and plan the shots accordingly.
7. Proper equipment for you – just like you need proper gear for photography, you need to equip well, too.Make sure to wear appropriate clothes, bring something to protect you from the rain or heat and so on.
8. Bring something to drink – always, always have some liquid with you. It’s unhealthy and unpleasant to be thirsty, and you have the whole day of walking around and shooting ahead of you. Bring enough water in summer and warm tea in winter.
9. Bring something to eat – taking photos on an empty stomach isn’t fun. Taking landscape photos often involves miles of walking, hiking or cycling, and you want to have enough strength for that.
10. Leave room for delays – plan the trip so you have some extra time. It’s better to arrive early and wait a bit, than come late and miss the moment.
11. Bring a portable chair – it’s always a good idea to have a small, portable chair with you. Landscape photography can involve a lot of waiting, and it’s better to have a small chair than sit on a stone or ground. Especially when it’s cold or it was raining before you arrived,
12. Think about the lenses you’ll bring – before you leave for the shoot, think it through. Don’t overpack, but only bring what you need. For example, you probably won’t need prime lenses or flash for landscape photography. A wide-angle and a zoom lens should be enough.
13. Make sure your cell phone is charged – landscape photography involves a lot of time being alone in the wild. Your phone may be the only connection you have with the civilization, so make sure it’s charged and working. It’s not a bad idea to bring an external charger, too.
14. Check the ISO – it sounds silly, but it happens. You ISO may stay too high, and sometimes you can’t fix it well enough in post-processing. Unfortunately, I also learned this the hard way.
15. Check white balance – you can always adjust white balance in post-processing, I know. But why would you spend extra time on that if you don’t have to? So, try and get it right in camera before you take the shot.
16. Identify the subject – think of the composition and the subject of your photo before you take each shot. Don’t rush.
17. Decide what type of lenses you need for which shot – when you’ve identified the subject, decide what type of lens would be the best for the shot.
18. Make sure the horizon line is straight – before pressing the shutter, check that horizontal line. Sure, you can straighten the image in the post, but this spares you spending more time editing than it’s necessary.
19. Check the borders of the frame – again, before you press the shutter, check the edges of the frame. See what you can include or exclude from the shot, what’s in the way, and what’s cut out when it shouldn’t be.
20. Try different angles, composition and camera orientation – digital photography allows us to take plenty of shots, so use this to your advantage. Take different shots of the same subject, change composition, angle and camera orientation.
21. Check the sharpness by zooming the images – I may have said that chimping isn’t good for your photography, but I also said that it’s okay in some situations. Landscape photography is one of them. There are no fast-paced events, or once in a lifetime moments you need to capture, so you can chimp all you like. What’s more, it’s desirable in landscape photography. It helps you check the sharpness of the images and avoid unpleasant surprises when you get home and see them on the computer screen.
22. Use mirror lock-up with longer lenses – needless to say; this helps you create clean and sharp images.
23. Use a remote control to trigger your camera – again, do all you can to reduce camera shake, and using a remote trigger helps you achieve it.
24. Backup your files when you get home – after the shoot, don’t forget to back up your images. Don’t be lazy and just leave them on the memory card. You never know.
25. Go through the photos and label those that have most potential – it can be tiring to go through hundreds or even thousands of images when your trip and shooting are over. So, when you get home, label the images that have the most potential, to help you focus.
26. Recharge your camera and phone batteries for the next day – if you have another day of shooting ahead of you, don’t forget to recharge all the batteries for the next day.
27. Prepare the gear for the next day – last but not least, once the shooting is over and you get home, prepare for the day that’s ahead of you. It’s better to pack the night before than rush in the morning.
So, this is the checklist of the things you need to do, check and bring for your landscape photography, I find it pretty extensive and comprehensive, and I added some stuff I managed to remember. What would you add to this list? Has it ever happened to you to forget to do something from it that cost you some good shots? Share your thoughts in the comments.