…and I’ve made them all. These things are mostly common sense, but it can’t hurt to be reminded of them, or to learn them through my mistakes instead of your own if you’re a new photographer.
1. The camera can’t take pictures if there isn’t a memory card in it. This may seem like the most obvious thing in the world, but two days ago I went out for a walk with the dogs, camera in hand, and realized 10 minutes later that there was no card in the camera because I had left it in the computer after copying photos off of the SD card. It’s a good idea to make sure you have an extra memory card in your camera bag in case you should forget to take the card out of your computer after copying files. Memory cards are cheap, there’s not reason not to have at least one extra around in case you need it. It’s also a good idea to put the card back in your camera as soon as you finish copying files over, or like me, you may forget about it.
2. The camera can’t take pictures if the batteries are dead. Again, absolute common sense. While we’re at it, the camera can’t take pictures if there is no battery in it. But how many people have you seen have the battery in their camera die before? I’ll admit it, I’ve done it before, but never again. Buy yourself an extra battery and keep it in your camera bag, they’re cheap and it’s good security in case your battery should die, or you should forget your main battery in the charger (not saying I’ve ever done that before…). And don’t make the mistake of thinking that since you have two batteries you can wait until the second one is almost dead to charge either of them, treat the second one as for emergencies only and you’ll never find yourself staring at the perfect shot with no juice left to take it.
3. Buy yourself a tripod. You can get a halfway decent tripod for fairly inexpensive and I guarantee you’ll get use out of it at some point. Night photography, long exposure photography, self photography, HDR photography… It may not be something you’ll use on a daily basis but it’ll help you get photos you couldn’t otherwise get. The photo to the right of the Magic Fountain in Barcelona, Spain is a perfect example of a shot I never would have gotten without a tripod. I have plenty of blurry photos from my pre-tripod days to remind me how good of an investment my tripod is even if it doesn’t get used that often.
4. When in doubt, take the photo. If you’re out taking photos and you can’t decide whether or not to take a photo of something, do it. There’s absolutely no down side. Memory cards are so big and so cheap now that you should never run out of space and if you decide later that you don’t like the photo, it’s easy to delete it. It’s not like the old days of film when every photo you took cost money. You’ll never regret taking a photo that you don’t like but you will regret it if there’s something you consider taking a photo of and don’t, then later decide that you wish you had the photo.
5. Backup, backup, backup. If you only have one copy of your photos you’re going to lose them sooner or later. Hard drives die. Laptops get stolen. Fires, floods, mudslides, small children, pets, and the Loch Ness Monster all have the potential to destroy your computer and everything saved on it. At the very least, get an external hard drive and keep a copy of your photos on there. Better yet, make sure you have a copy of your photos off site whether it be keeping a hard drive at a friend’s house or using an online backup site like Carbonite. An external hard drive won’t do you much good if it’s sitting next to the computer in the house that just burned down or was taken by the same burglar that stole your computer. And never wait to copy files off of a flash drive until after it has gone through the washing machine in the pocket of your jeans.
That’s all for today, not exactly rocket surgery or brain science but sometimes it’s the simplest things that make the difference. Until next time, happy shooting