Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Checklist - It's Not about What I'm Packing

When planning our excursions  many of us create a checklist to ensure we don't forget the important items.

Cameras, lenses, remote, cleaners, spare batteries and filters.  Check.
Gloves, hat, sunglasses, snacks ((Erg Bar for long term energy), smart phone.  Check.

There's another checklist that I've found that I need to make.  It's the tactics checklist of what to remember when 'caught up in the moment' of your subject.

Underneath the Outer Banks Fishing Pier at Sunrise
Nikon 600, 14-24mm, f/16, ISO 100, 6 sec

On a recent trip, I had the privilege of shooting above and under piers in the the Outer Banks in North Carolina.  When processing the images in Lightroom,  there were specific shooting areas where I noticed a fundamental issue.  

I hadn't moved my perspective!  

Sure, different f/stops were used along with focal length adjustments.  But the perspective was from one location.   Almost all of the upper level pier shots had the same look and feel including horizon points.  This left very little to work with when back in Lightroom.  

What happened?

Fundamentally, I am a bird and nature photographer.  Because my subjects move, I constantly have to as well.  'Moving' around to the right, left, on the ground is the norm.  

When the objects became stationary, my tendency was to remain in one spot.  The outcome?  A lot of images that looked the same and there was not a lot to choose from.

Bodie Lighthouse after Sunset
Nikon 600,  14-24mm, f/8, ISO 50, 30 sec

Viewing images from the pier and lighthouses with limited perspectives generated the need for a mental  'in the moment'  tactics checklist.  This includes: 
  • Multiple f/stops
  • Multiple focal lengths
  • Multiple steps to the right and left from the initial shooting point
  • Taken from close to ground level
  • Taken from a higher point
  • Use of different lenses on the same subject when possible

Batteries are charged, camera gear and backpack is ready.  Mental list?  Check!