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Make a Packing List, or Make Do

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @28mm, f/16, 3 frame HDR, ISO 400.

It’s a good idea to have a list of the minimum required gear you’ll need every time you shoot, and to run through that list before you head out the door. I’ve made mine super basic, and I’ve got it committed to memory so that before I leave I open my bag and see each thing in it’s place. I’m checking on the little things like batteries, tripod plates, memory cards, filters, remote shutter release, lens cloth–the little stuff that may end up ruining the shoot if it’s not there. Big things like camera bodies leave a big blank in the bag, so it’s obvious when they’re missing. The lenses I bring are always different, so I also check that I have what I’ll need in the bag. Keep your tools in the same spot in the bag all the time so that’s it’s evident when things are missing.

If you run out the door without going through your list, you may end up trying to make do with what you’ve got, like I did the other day when my buddy, Carlos, was visiting. After the 1.5 hour drive to the Coast, I realized I didn’t have a memory card for my camera, so I’d only shoot the film body I brought. After hiking down to the location, Carlos realized his tripod plate was back in the car. Between the two of us, we cobbled together enough stuff to make a few frames before the tide came in and washed us away. Had we slowed down and gone through the list, we’d have had a better time of it.

Canon 6D, 17-40 f/4 L USM lens, F/4, 30 seconds, ISO 3200.
Canon 6D, 17-40 f/4 L USM lens, F/4, 30 seconds, ISO 3200. This is best I could salvage, lacking a shutter release for a long enough exposure. The image at the top of the post is from a different day when I had all my tools at hand.

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