12 Ways To Never Miss A Photo Opportunity

12 Ways To Never Miss A Photo Opportunity

The following post on 12 Ways To Never Miss A Photo Opportunity is by San Francisco based photographer Jim M. Goldstein. Learn more about him at the end of this post.

Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a great moment to photograph, but missing the opportunity to do so. I’ve missed my fair share of great moments either due to timing or worse lack of preparedness. Either way it’s no fun to miss a photo whatever the circumstances. The Art Of Being Prepared is just that, an art. So what can you do to minimize the chance you’ll miss that next great photo? Here are 12 ways to never miss a photo…

1. Have a camera bag that enables you to easily and quickly access your camera

lowepro-slingshot-100If you’re stuck with an overly complicated bag that takes too long to open or is organized in such a way that other gear is in the way of you getting to your camera quickly you’re guaranteed to miss that next great spontaneous photo. Look for bags that have quick access flaps and aren’t cumbersome to secure.

note from the editor: lately we’ve been using a Lowepro SlingShot 100 (pictured left) which enables you to quickly get your DSLR off your back by flipping it around.

2. Be sure to have not just (1) one fully charged battery but (2) two

It’s easy to loose track of how long you’ve been using one battery and if your battery status is 1/4 full what does that really mean? Is a 1/4 battery going to last 30 minutes or 20 photos? It’s tough to tell and you might not know it, but battery life is dependent on how cold it is. Yup that’s right cold batteries don’t last as long, but there is a way around that as I discuss in a recent photo outing “Los Angeles City Lights & Maximizing Your Battery Life“. The trick… warm up your battery to squeeze out a few extra photos. Certainly a good tip to know if you’re in a squeeze, but why play with fire when you can just plan ahead. Carry that second battery with you and never make an excuse to leave it behind. You won’t regret it.
Sea Nettle Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium photo by Jim M. Goldstein

3. Be sure to clean the front and rear elements of your lens to minimize spots (optionally cleaning your camera sensor)

Spots in your photos are first and foremost lost data. Data you can fill with a cloning or healing brush, but lost data none the less. Why miss out on the original when you can get it right the first time with a little forethought. Properly preparing your lenses and camera will enable you to get the photo right the first time reduce the time you spend post-processing and dealing with spotting your images.

4. Before heading out make sure you have CF cards in your camera that are empty or have lots of free space

Being conscious both of your available storage capacity and having easy access to more cards can make or break a photo outing. Getting in to the habit of downloading and clearing your cards after each outing will help ensure that you always have the maximum space available.

Wild Bobcat nature photo by Jim M. Goldstein

5. Pre-set your camera settings for the type of subject you’re aiming to photograph

You don’t have to be psychic, but over time you should know the camera settings that you feel most comfortable with or will need before a given photo shoot. Your settings don’t have to be exact but making sure you’re in the general range of what you’ll need so you can quickly adjust to the right ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. settings is key. Nothing is worse than realizing that you’re shooting at ISO 1600 in bright daylight introducing more digital noise than would be preferred or having too low of an ISO set in low light conditions resulting in too long of an exposure blurring your subject. One thing I’ve learned to get into the habit of doing is putting my camera away at the end of the day with the same camera settings. This repetition has enabled me to routinely adjust from a common baseline for every photo outing. As a result of doing this I’ve since trained myself to think about my settings before and after heading out with my gear.

6. If you have a camera with image stabilization or vibration reduction set your lens appropriately for the subject

For those that have the luxury of using a lens with IS or VR be sure you have this function set appropriately for your subject. If you’re doing a lot of hand holding while photographing your subject or working in low light be sure this feature is on. If you’re using a longer focal length and have your camera mounted to a tripod be sure this feature is disabled. The end result in both of these situations will be sharper photos.

7. Have needed filters on your lens or take filters off your lens as necessary before heading out.

If you’re fumbling for filters when you should be focusing on your subject you’ll increase the likelihood of missing photo opportunities. Know your subject and know what you’ll need beforehand. If you’re in the mood to experiment preload filters on your lens and remove them as need be. It’s almost always faster to remove a filter than to fumble clumsily putting one on.

8. It may sound obvious but take off your lens cap.

I’m man enough to admit I’ve left my lens cap on more than once while trying to capture a fleeting moment. The habit I’ve developed to avoid this is to take off my lens cap as soon as my camera comes out of my camera bag. If I’m concerned about the safety of my lens I’ll keep it on, but with my hand cupped on the cap attached to the front element of the lens. As soon as I decide to use my camera my hand comes off the lens with the lens cap in hand.

Mmmm! Cake photo by Jim M. Goldstein

9. Head out with a notion of what you’d like to photograph and how, but always keep your eyes open for new subjects and the unexpected

Priming your minds eye to what you want to photograph is often helpful, but it can also be a distraction. If you lock on to a preconceived notion of what you want to photograph too intensely you’re apt to miss other great opportunities that are right under your nose. Have a notion of what you’d like to photograph, but keep your eyes and mind open.

10. Have your camera on and your hand on your camera bag

Keeping your camera on ensures that you won’t have to wait those extra seconds for your camera to start up when a photographic opportunity arises. If you’re in need of protection and have your camera in a camera bag keep your hand on your camera or near it so you can retrieve it at a moments notice. Those seconds add up and can make the difference between getting the photo you want and missing it.

11. Stay focused

Whether you’re out looking for the spontaneous or waiting out an inevitable moment worthy of capturing keep focused. Murphy’s Law would have it that the moment you take your eye off of your subject, is the moment your subject does exactly what you wanted to photograph. In my book this is by far one of the most frustrating things to experience.

12. Don’t Chimp

Chimping is when a photographer “Oohs” and “Aaah” while looking at images on their LCD screen. If you’re photographing something don’t get caught up in the self-gratification of reviewing your photos. Check to make sure your settings are ok, but keep your eye on your subject and remember #11.

There’s no guarantee by following these recommendations that you’ll capture every fast moving photo opportunity, but it will likely increase your odds of doing so.

This post was written by Jim M. Goldstein. Jim’s landscape, nature, travel and photojournalism photography is featured on his web site JMG-Galleries.com, and blog. In addition Jim’s podcast “EXIF and Beyond” features photographer interviews and chronicles the creation of some of his images.

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Jim Goldstein is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension - Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

Some Older Comments

  • Chris in NC May 3, 2012 05:08 am

    I missed a bobcat this morning @ 20 yards because I didn't think to have my camera with me. Argggg.

  • William Gilson May 3, 2012 04:44 am

    Dont zip your camera in your bag over your shoulder and on your back. Carry you camera it takes a long time to pull it out of the bag to get that shot many times you will have missed the shot fumbling to get your camera out of your bag . Unless you must have it in the bag carry it separate.

  • Kenneth May 3, 2012 04:02 am

    I will agree with the article writer that chimping is fine, provided you use it as a tool to verify your settings are on piont for the given ambient light.

    However, there are others that toss out "advice" to NEVER chimp. Come on!

    My personal opinion and from what I've read regarding the whole "chimping" thing. Chimping has become a way for "experienced" photographers to raise themselves up from the "lesser" photographers. More and more people are getting better at photography and the dinosaur photographers who started with film use "chimping" as a way to make fun of others who grew up in the digital format.

    IT'S DIGITAL! Instant results and if people want to chimp, then let them chimp. Get over it. I personally don't let anyone tell me what you can and can't do.

    It's disgusting how so many photogs seem to develop a planet sized ego and find things like "chimping" to put others down.

  • Jay November 19, 2010 07:47 am

    Yeah, it can definitely do that. (as well as using live view to shoot/focus)

  • ratkellar November 19, 2010 04:09 am

    I don't chimp on the scene, but I have run down my battery chimping inthe car or elsewhere. Beware!

  • Jay November 15, 2010 11:13 pm

    Just had a instance of not checking (thoroughly enough) my settings before shooting. I was in manual, but luckily I was shooting RAW (as always) and the exposure wasn't bad enough not to recover.

  • Katja Nina November 15, 2010 06:39 pm

    good tips! for me it has happened few times that I forgotten something or settings were completely incorrect for a photo and that is so irritating! But then again I do learn from my mistakes...

  • jimbarman November 14, 2010 09:46 pm

    ever tried to get a photo of a Salmon leaping

  • Neil mackenzie November 12, 2010 07:09 am

    Just make sure you format your card, every time you download your photos.

  • Jay November 10, 2010 03:42 am

    I agree with Grady, that it's not that you shouldn't chimp, it's knowing when to do it.

    Don't do it after every shot or anything, but I'll check my histogram to make sure I'm getting proper exposure after I shoot a few. If you just keep shooting and one of those other tips has passed you by and bitten you in the rear, you'll just keep shooing like that unless you happen to look at the screen or figure it out other wise. (or worse, when you get home with what you thought were good shots)

    When to chimp would vary for your subject and shooting situation. (that sounds like a post topic someone should write)

  • Tyson November 2, 2010 11:29 am

    "Keeping your eyes out for the unexpected" is how I have gotten some of my best photographs. Great advice!

  • Bran Everseeking October 27, 2010 01:10 pm

    I need to add one thought to earlier comments: Never! Ever! leave your camera without media. even if you think its just a few minutes while you move images on to the computer.... and if you can avoid it do not connect your camera to the computer as that too puts it out of service.

  • Grant Stringer October 25, 2010 07:34 am

    Nice list of tips. I have had to learn a few the hard way and I missed a fair number of shots in my time.
    One that I have been caught by on more than one occasion is when the misses has borrowed my camera and left the image size on small and I havent noticed. AAAAAAARRRRRRHHHHHH!

  • susheelendra October 24, 2010 02:07 am

    can u please guide me to setting the nikon D-300 S.L.R. camera when taking group pictures of 300 people and which lens is used for the same with the exposure values

  • M.F.S.Perera October 23, 2010 11:17 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful tips given.

  • kirpi October 23, 2010 09:17 pm

    @Loni Yes, l perfectly understand you: for this reason a small (but good) camera like a Nikon P7000 or a Canon G11/12 is a wise choice. As for your baby, I've grow two by using a simple piece of cloth...

  • Paula October 23, 2010 01:06 pm

    I, like others who have commented, disagree about the use of a camera bag. While it is essential for protection while in transit - it is probably not the best thing to have to shoot a scene quick enough. I use a lowepro mini trekker back pack which requires one to take it off their back, unzip and pull the camera out. Even the few seconds it takes using a sling-pro is enough for anyone to miss an opportunity.

    Having multiple charged batteries and empty memory cards before leaving the house is something I come across too often. It's not a matter of not buying them, but merely forgetting to place them into my camera and/or bag before leaving the house if i have been editing images from the day before. Checking before I walk out of the door is always something I do now.

    I also recommend placing the AF-point to either centred or centred average prior to shooting (which sort of relates to #5). Having an off-centred AF-point can be frustrating if forgotten when required to shooting a scene in a split second. The difference of a few seconds waiting for the lens to adjust its focus can mean losing a spectacular image.


  • Chen October 23, 2010 09:00 am

    Great tips and love your photos, Jim!


  • Loni October 23, 2010 04:28 am

    Great tips! If only I had a third hand though! Since having a baby, and carting around all of her stuff, and the camera sometimes has to take the sidelines!

  • Dev October 22, 2010 09:14 pm

    Wonderful insights!
    I agree with the author's advice on loading certain preconceived settings beforehand...like ISO speed. It happened once that I photographed a fort in the night at ISO1600 and got amazing photographs. The next day I photographed a few animals in a zoo hastily, only to realize I had the ISO set to 1600, in sufficient light...There was a lot of noise which could have been prevented. Believe me, nothing can be more frustrating!!!

  • Bibi October 22, 2010 04:17 pm

    My number one tip is....Keep your camera out! Forget the bag, or at least just use it for additional gear. If you have to even just pull your camera out of the bag, you have most likely lost a shot.

  • GradyPhilpott October 22, 2010 12:18 pm

    The BlackRapid straps or those like them are the way to keep your camera at the ready at all times. I use mine all the time in a setting where I'm documenting the restoration of aircraft by a bunch of guys who want it done, but don't want to be bothered by the photographer, so I have to be ready at all times and I have to understand that I won't be able to get every shot or that I may have to get one like it later.

    As for chimping, I think the better advice is to know when to chimp and when not to chimp. If I didn't chimp, I'd really lose a lot of shots because I shoot in some highly challenging lighting situations and I often have to try different settings to get the shot I need. Sometimes bracketing works, but mostly I have to play it by ear (eye).

    Oh, by the way, I'm a complete novice, but somehow I manage to get shots that impress the pros who drop in from time to time to chat and look around.

  • Luis Garcia October 22, 2010 11:52 am

    I've fallen for #8 several times, usually for my first shot (usually a test shot) of the day. Once I take my lens cap off though, it usually stays in my pocket or in a bag until I start packing away my gear.

    Nice set of tips, btw.

  • darren_c October 22, 2010 11:36 am

    I don't think the "perfect" bag has been made, yet, nor will it ever be. For a walk around I like the Crumpler 6 Million Dollar Home. It can fit your basic needs for photowalk. I carry a D300 with grip and 24-70 attached. I can also take up to 2 more reasonable sized lenses, typically I just take the 10-24mm, and one flash.

    I remember shooting inside using spot metering and then a few minutes later moving outside. I forgot to change the metering mode. It was metering on my focus point and my focus point was on darker skin... so can you guess what happened? Wide open exposure, sunlight and lots of blown highlights coming at you like a steam train straight from ice planet 255!

  • TomL October 22, 2010 10:40 am

    I bought a Tamrac bag online at Blacks Cameras Canada - but it looks like they just discontinued it.
    It's a one strap bag that goes from over your shoulder right to your stomach in one quick swing. Not the "whole" kit bag - but has a dedicated place for batteries/flash cards and filters in front. A neat red flag system to tell you which batteries are good/dead.
    The top opens away from you so you grab your stuff - the inside of the lid has extra zipper spaces.
    The inside main pouch can hold a dslr and fairly long lens attached and has padded side areas where I keep my battery back/remote and flash unit.
    I looked at some others but didn't like them unzipping totally and opening up all the gear.
    It has fully sealed seams and is rugged.
    It's a super bag - not sure where it's available now.

  • IndyGeoff October 22, 2010 06:03 am

    I use a Black Rapid so the camera is easily swing into position. If I am just carrying it, which I do often, I am going to admit I leave it in auto mode. I shoot in RAW and manual or A/S priority depending when I am shooting something specific. Just hanging on my neck as I go about my daily activities, auto mode. I figure, there's only so much you can do even with a RAW file if exposure is way off.

  • Peggy Collins October 22, 2010 05:05 am

    Tip #5 really rings a bell for me. I always take my camera along with me when hiking through the woods with my dogs in the morning. The sun usually hasn't even come over the mountains when we go on these walks and besides, I live in the Pacific Northwest which isn't exactly famous for being sunny. I expect to see elk and the occasional bear on our walks...knowing this, I pre-set my camera to at least 800 ISO, on aperture priority, and add between 1 to 1-2/3 stops of exposure compensation. If I don't add the exposure compensation, dark animals just aren't properly exposed. That way I'm ready for the action, like in this shot of a black bear...I almost walked right past him before I saw him standing motionless in the bushes.

    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/peggycollins/2617428967/' title=''Scuse me, but haven't we met somewhere before?' url='http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3148/2617428967_b5170c11fd.jpg']

    I also agree about always taking a camera with you. The one time I let my husband talk me out of taking my camera to the beach, a bald eagle snapped off a huge tree branch for a nest and swooped down right in front of us. Never again!

  • Jay McIntyre October 22, 2010 04:32 am

    If you don't chimp, how will you really know if you got the shot?

  • Embassy Pro Books October 21, 2010 04:26 am

    BATTERIES!!! Making sure you are well stocked with fully charged batteries is a big one for me, oh that and enough memory space. So important not to get stranded without those two items...it happens all too often.

  • Artrina October 21, 2010 04:16 am

    Be aware of where you are and what's going on around you. Take the scenic route when possible and plan time to stop and enjoy the scenery, the sunset etc. Stay off your cellphone when driving and look around. Let your significant other drive for a change. Check out parks in your city that you've never been to. (I live within 10 miles of a gorgeous waterfall. I make visits to it every season and after big storms. I show friends pix and people don't believe this is so close to home.)

  • kirpi October 21, 2010 12:52 am

    True, absolutely first in the list: never ever leave your camera at home. Have your (preferably small) camera with you all the time. I personally suggest devices like Canon G11/12, Nikon P7000, Lumix LX3 or similar, but really *any* camera is fine, as long as it is there: where the action takes place.
    This is one of the reasons for casual (not yet clearly oriented) photographers to prefer compact over reflex cameras.

  • Deb Scally October 20, 2010 11:03 pm

    All are great tips, but the "stay focused" tip is probably the hardest one to master. I do a lot of sports shooting, esp. soccer, and it gets tough to stay focused for 30+ minutes without a break, but it seems EVERY time I give myself a mental breather and relax my grip, I watch a fabulous header shot happen right in front of me. Gets me every time!

  • Mei Teng October 20, 2010 10:37 pm

    Great tips. Forgetting extra batteries can be a major bummer.

  • Karen Stuebing October 20, 2010 09:37 pm

    These are all great tips and mistakes I've made. Along with having the camera at some previous setting for indoor shooting and being outside and wondering why I have to use these really fast shutter speeds. Uh duh. I'm at ISO 800.

    I have never left the lens cap on though. I can' t see anything through the viewfinder when it's on. I don't understand how that one happens.

    As for bags, I do rugged hiking and I have to use one. I cannot just sling my camera over my shoulder. I also cannot carry tons of gear. Hiking miles and miles of mountain trails and off trail with 30 pounds of photographic equipment will leave you too exhausted to even lift the camera.

    I bought a Lowepro and sent it right back. It was on of the most unwieldy, hard to get into bags I've ever had. Just my experience.

    I then bought a cheap camcorder bag a Walmart which holds my camera with a telephoto lens. I sling it over my back and leave the top open which still protects the camera. I can bring it around front and have the camera out in a second.

    If I want to carry an extra lens I use a compact camera belt pack and put the lens in that.

    When all is said and done, you're still going to miss shots no matter how ready you are.

  • JohnP October 20, 2010 12:23 pm

    Great tips thanks. A friend who is a head photographer for our local newspaper says they discard and never use lens caps even on their very expensive lenses. "They are protected by realtively cheap UV or skylight filters and the gear is in bags so why do you need them?" I must admit, except for the fact I've lost mine, I'd still use a lens cap but it does free you up quite a bit not having to worry about them. You do need of course to keep the lens clean.

    Also I agree, where possible I hold the camera in my hand not kept in the bag.

  • Scott October 20, 2010 12:14 pm

    Sensor cleaning is very overlooked, I had no idea how frequently it would be needed when I started digital photography. With frequent lens changes, every 2 weeks is the minimum.


  • Liz October 20, 2010 10:52 am

    Number 5 gets me all the time. Take out my camera only to realize Ive left it on 10sec dely :(

  • gfahey October 20, 2010 09:28 am

    Missed the most important part:

    Number One: ALWAYS have a camera with you!

    OK, you get it but, it's true. I carry my Lumix LX3 everywhere I go. No exceptions. If I am going someplace specific I will mount the right lens for that situation on my D700 but still carry the Lumix. Whatever camera is in my hands, the lens cap is off. I am constantly flicking the On and Off buttons on either camera as I walk about.

    I am also a "shooter" of pistols and find shooting both camera sand guns to be similar in a lot of respects. With a gun, carry it cocked and locked....same with a camera. When carrying a gun (I have had a permit for over 20 years now) you are trained to always be in a condition of alertness. Be ready for the unexpected. Same with a camera. When shooting (especially a rifle) squeeze the trigger while you exhale. Same with a camera, it lessens jitter. With regards to "squeezing the trigger" same applies to the shutter release in that you "roll" the SR button, you don't simply "press down". Carry a gun in a good holster otherwise it gets awfully uncomfortable. The BlackRapid RS-7 is by far the best way to carry my D700 around. I can;t recommend it enough. Whether my 70-200VR or a 50 prime, it feels great and I'm able to keep my hands on the camera/shutter release and also kind of slide it to my back when squeezing around in crowds. It's the closest thing to a real old west "quick draw" holster for a DSLR. It has a zippered pouch right on the strap so I can keep an extra 2 to 3 CF cards (SanDisk Ducati 8GB cards are my favorite).

    Also, where I am at determines what I use for settings (duh). If things are hectic and in the day, I select SP at a minimum of 1/160. If it's a slow paced atmosphere where I anticipate candids, I shoot wide open on whatever lens I have mounted. If it's night time or indoors, I have the auto ISO set to go to a maximum of ISO 3200. On the Lumix I max it at 800.

    Sometimes I go so far as to carry my Epson Picture Mate 290 with the accessory battery. If I go to a family get together or something similar, I can then print out 4x6 photos on the spot right from the CF card. People are blown away by the quality. They are amazing. Great product.

    All the above hints are excellent. I think the most important (and difficult) aspect to master is "finding" the shot. I am finding this comes with time. The more you get out the more you develop this. It's taken me years but, now, when I walk about, I feel as though my eyes are literally lenses now. Constantly scanning. Anticipating. Framing the photo. Making sure you have a decent background.

    A few weeks ago I went to a huge autumn country fair. Lots of great colors, especially at night. Interesting subjects aplenty. But, when I got home it occurred to me that sometimes we can't see the forest through the trees. Here I was looking at animals, carnival rides, horse races, etc, when really, I had thousands of interesting faces I could have shot instead. I missed the opportunity to capture them by being distracted. Quite honestly, I missed this opportunity because I, like may others, am hesitant to approach people and ask if I can take their photograph. This is the ONE thing I am going to really focus on now. Approaching the best objects to photograph. People! Nothing does it for me quite like a B&W candid shot. So, let me add that to the mix here:

    People are everywhere! Don't miss the opportunity to capture them! Learn to approach people, engage them and let them be at ease with you. Sorry to be so long winded here, blame the espresso! ;-)

  • Bran Everseeking October 20, 2010 08:22 am

    I would suggest having the correct media for your camera not just CF. Put me down for a "me too" on the suject of having the camera at hand and not in any bag

  • Steve October 20, 2010 07:51 am

    Agree with those who disagree about keeping the camera in the bag- best way to miss a shot. Straps are a great invention.

    To be honest the rest of the list was pretty much boilerplate stuff with little insight. You could have rolled 2,4,5,7 into one catch all keep a checklist and use it type point.

    8 and 9 were just filler - stating the blindingly obvious and I would suggest that anyone who needs this type of advice is probably not ready to clean their sensor yet. point 3.

    I would also recommend frequently blowing the image up to 100% on the lcd to check sharpness. This can be done in way less than a second and could well give the opportunity for a second attempt.

  • McGuireuk October 20, 2010 07:38 am

    I'd agree with the first point. I have a lowepro Slingshot and love it. Loads of room and storage pockets and flaps and its very comfortable to carry around with you all day. (I have done this) Very nice bag and comes with a very handy all weather cover which tucks away in the bottom.

    Recommended top buy.

  • Anna Patrick October 20, 2010 07:06 am

    Missing a photo opportunity is soooooooo frustrating. Nice tips, will keep them in mind.

  • Jimmy D October 20, 2010 06:57 am

    Forgot to mention I shot street most of the time, where you kind of stumbles in the shots. /Jimmy
    [eimg link='http://www.flickr.com/photos/dovholt/4767676991/' title='RGB & K' url='http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4142/4767676991_00f886c103_z.jpg']

  • Jimmy D October 20, 2010 06:49 am

    Excellent tips except for the bag tip. Why would you ever tuck your camera away if you want to be ready for the unexpected? Unless you are using some heavy stuff it should be switched on and in your hand all the time. Well - at least that is how I do it.


  • Lester June 9, 2010 08:11 am

    Great suggestions! Although I normally keep my bag packed and ready for anything, there are times when I have forgotten small items.

  • Jesse June 6, 2009 01:58 am

    @Bev most cameras have an auto-off setting that doesn't actually turn your camera completely off, but puts it in a sort of "suspend" mode like a laptop. That way, it's much less drain on the battery, but it's also much faster from the point of tapping a button (to "wake up" the camera) to the point of being ready to shoot. Of course, that depends on your model of camera. I had a Panasonic DMC FZ-10 that had a lens that was mechanically extended by the camera when it turned on. When it went into the suspend mode, it would leave it out (until a certain amount of time went by, then it would retract). It was much faster to wake up the camera from that than to wait for the camera to become fully prepared from having the switch set to off. Now I have a Rebel XTi and I personally don't really notice any difference between turning the camera on/off vs the suspend mode. Speed wise, the camera is almost instantaneously ready to shoot. However, convenience-wise, the suspend is better, because all I have to do to tell the camera i want to shoot is press the shutter release halfway in instead of flipping the switch :)

    great article and very good things to remember. all obvious things, BUT also the most over-looked things! :P ... of course, I've NEVER done any of those ;) hahahaha ...

  • Pilar Arvizu April 3, 2009 10:45 am

    Good points, now i have an excuse to buy a new camera (small) as Rob said - get a second camera you can carry “everywhere”, and also is very important to have updated the date in our camera.

  • Bill W. June 8, 2008 12:45 am

    Excellent points. The basics are always the most important things. When I miss shots because I didn't keep my camera on, take my lens cover off right away, or was trying to put on a filter instead of taking one off, it's not only discouraging, but it can negatively affect my positive energy. But when I'm ready, the satisfaction of being prepared is tremendously gratifying. Therefore, I try to keep my camera bag on the front seat of my car, so I can grab it when needed. Its being there reminds me to take more notice of my surroundings and the beauty of normal

  • Julie May 19, 2008 08:36 am

    Concerning the tip in #1....I just bought this bag after going through several and I just love it. It has lots of room for my 4 lenses and my camera. I would recommend it to anyone with that amount of camera gear. I don't have a flash preferring to shoot with wider apertures but if I did the bag would handle that too. Overall great bag!!!

    1. Have a camera bag that enables you to easily and quickly access your camera

    lowepro-slingshot-100If you’re stuck with an overly complicated bag that takes too long to open or is organized in such a way that other gear is in the way of you getting to your camera quickly you’re guaranteed to miss that next great spontaneous photo. Look for bags that have quick access flaps and aren’t cumbersome to secure.

    note from the editor: lately we’ve been using a Lowepro SlingShot 100 (pictured left) which enables you to quickly get your DSLR off your back by flipping it around.

  • ROB May 16, 2008 11:43 pm

    Another couple of suggestions:

    - get a second camera you can carry "everywhere"
    - and/ or carry a notebook to record the images you see but cannot capture due time, incorrect light, etc

    And I totally agree. Nothing like getting into a routine of cleaning, reset setting, charging, downloading and repacking.

  • Warren May 16, 2008 03:02 pm

    #13 Place CF card back into camera after transferring to computer. DOH. Very embarrassing. Trust me!!

  • Mathieu May 16, 2008 05:39 am

    #5 Good idea, once every so often I use a previous setting(Shooting in 5MP instead of 8MP, using burst shooting, etc.)

    A for #6, why would turning off the IS when using a tripod would make the image clearer? There are still some vibrations and or movements that are possible, when you press down the shutter button or if it's windy. I just don't understand how is turning off the IS going to make your image sharper.

    #10 So true, I've missed many opportunities because my camera is off. But, if you walk around with your camera on, isn't your lens going to collect dust particles? That's the impression I'm under.

    Great tips overall, thanks :)

  • Doc Holliday May 15, 2008 01:03 am

    Great tips.

    I regularly shoot in extremely cold weather - down to -50 at times, took a lot of images at -30 this year. My fully charged, stock Canon battery will last about 10-15 shots at this temp. I have a generic replacement battery that is supposed to last "twice as long as the stock" battery - it lasts about 8 shots at this temperature.

    To get around the cold, I fill my vest pockets, (my down vest, not my photo vest), with chemical hand warmers. Three or four seems to work the best. Then when a battery dies, I put it in the pocket with the hand warmers. Usually, within ten minutes, it is back to "charged" and I can use it again.

    Added bonus is you can put your hand in that pocket and warm it up, too....

    Other added bonus is that the air is incredibly clear at these kind of temps. Very little particulate matter floating around. This makes for markedly clearer photos...

    As for the shooting without a CF card, man, can I relate. I came upon two juvenile bald eagles one time. I must have taken twenty pictures without realizing I didn't have a CF card in my camera. I learned the hard way to set my camera to not work without a CF... LOL

  • david May 14, 2008 02:59 pm

    great list.

    i have the lowepro slingshot 200 ... and while i like it's convenience, i don't like it's storage capacity or the way it feels on my back. i find it to be somewhat uncomfortable, compared to a 2 strap camera bag.

    it also has no way to hold a tripod, which is rather inconvenient.

    i'll probably revert to a standard camera pack next year, with a tripod holder on it. that way, i'll get much more gear stored inside.

    it's not terribly inconvenient to take off the backpack when changing lenses ... especially when your camera is in your hand anyway.

    thanks for some good ideas in other areas though. your point about chimping is good ... it's not something i do often, but a lot of my friends do it! LOL



  • Furious Photographers May 14, 2008 01:49 pm

    When I photograph a wedding, I use a Tamrac side bag with some lense holders on the side of my belt for easy access. It allows me to get to my camera gear really quickly. Check out my blog for more examples Furious Photographers blog.

  • Bob May 14, 2008 01:46 pm

    Keep your camera accessible in your camera bag?

    Are you kidding. If I am expecting to have to react quickly for "unexpected" opportunities, I do one of the following. I always keep my camera firmly in hand or on a strap, hanging off my shoulder, my hand griping the strap so that I can swing it up to my eye quickly.

    If the weather is inclement, then the camera is either covered or under my jacket and easily accessible.

    Unless you are in a situation which is predictable, it is almost impossible to keep your camera ready and in a bag. By the time you get it out, that moment is gone and you are looking for the next one. Worse yet, if you are in a crowd, even a small crowd, an open/unzipped/unlatched camera bag is an open invitation to theft -- not only of your camera but of anything else in the bag.

  • Sam May 14, 2008 06:07 am

    I own a Lowepro Slingshot 100 and LOVE IT. At all times in it I have: Canon XT w/ kit lens, 300mm lens, 50mm lens, wide angle lens, extra battery, 4GB and 2GB CF card, and multiple filters. This bag is well worth it as it protects all the gear and has a very quick and easy way to get to your camera.

  • Fredrik Steffen May 14, 2008 06:05 am

    I often keep the camera in my hand whenever I'm out just strolling. That way I'll never miss an opportunity ;)

  • Bev May 14, 2008 05:49 am

    Where do you buy 2G for $5?

    If I leave my camera on, won't the battery die? I have missed plenty of spur of the moment shots because I had to turn on the camera. I have also left my lense cap on, the CF card out and pretty much made plenty of mistakes! But
    it is okay. I am still having fun!!

  • Will Spaetzel May 14, 2008 04:22 am

    Great post, I've ran into #5 way too many times, I often wish my camera would just revert to "ISO Auto" after a few hours, it would be better than shooting a bunch of pictures and then having them all turn out Grainy

  • Jeff May 14, 2008 04:11 am

    this may sound silly, but make sure you use the restroom beforehand. Nature usually calls at the worst times. I speak from experience.. lol

  • John Flinchbaugh May 14, 2008 03:59 am

    I've grabbed my bag with all the accessories, then realized the camera was on the desk at home.

  • ebradlee10 May 14, 2008 03:33 am

    Wow. Great list.

    Hi my name is Brad and I am a chimper. Working on it, though.

  • Jozef Nagy May 14, 2008 03:30 am

    With the ridiculously low cost of memory cards, there's no excuse for not having a spare 2 GB card in your bag. A 2 GB card should only run you about $5; unless you're dumb enough to buy from a brick-and-mortar store and pay a 5x markup.

  • AC May 14, 2008 03:26 am

    Batteries and memory cards are the 2 most important things (other than the camera :p). It just takes one experience to drive this lesson home.

    One more thing - never delete a "bad" snap till you see it on a big screen.

  • sherry May 14, 2008 02:45 am

    Number 4 has left me incredibly frustrated in the past. There's nothing worse than leaving with your camera and a fully charged battery only to realize your card is still at home in your card reader.

  • Pryngiel May 14, 2008 02:32 am

    These are kinda good to remember. Immediate shooting may lead to frustration, as I have experienced lately taking photos at accident. Nevertheless thats the great part of experience we need to gain during endevours and failiures. Just take good photos :)

  • Scott Fillmer May 14, 2008 02:22 am

    Great list, thanks for sharing it with us. I love the CF card one, I for some reason can always take photos without the card present and then want to hit myself over the head with the camera.

  • juliemarg May 14, 2008 01:59 am

    What excellent suggestions - and your photos are beautiful!

  • Abdullah Al-Shackarchi May 14, 2008 01:27 am

    Great tip!
    REALLY usefull.

    Im getting a Sling 200