Have you ever been out to photograph a gorgeous sunset, just to realize that you can’t, because your batteries are dead? Perhaps you’ve come home and imported your images, and noticed that all of them are unusable due to hundreds of dust spots?
Don’t worry. Most of us have experienced the exact same things. Luckily, there are certain habits you can develop to avoid ever missing a shot again. None of them are time consuming, so there’s really no excuse not to implement them into your workflow.
Habit #1 – Charge your batteries
It might sound obvious that you should charge your batteries but you would be surprised how often I meet people that are out in the field without any battery power. In fact, I’m guessing you’ve experienced this yourself (don’t worry, so have I, and most other photographers too).
About a year ago I decided to take a seven hour drive to Åndalsnes in Norway, known for its spectacular landscape, in particular the iconic Trollstigen road. I had been there a few times before, but the weather was never ideal, so I wanted to go back and capture at least one good image. When I arrived at the scenic road and walked out to the viewpoint I managed to take a handful of pictures before my battery died. Weird, I thought, but no problem, I still have two spare batteries. Turned out both of them where empty too. I guess you can imagine my frustration when I realized that this entire trip was ruined because I had forgotten to charge my batteries.
I made it a habit after that incident to always charge my batteries after I come home from a trip, or evening out photographing. I set my batteries to charging even before I import my images, because I know if I don’t do it right away I may forget.
Habit #2 – Clean your equipment
Cleaning your camera gear is extremely important (especially for outdoor photographers) not only to lengthen the life of your equipment but also to improve image quality. I always get a bit upset when I view a beautiful image that is broken due to hundreds of small (or a few huge) dust spots. This is so unnecessarily, and easy to get rid of, so why let others believe you’re not as talented as you actually are.
Honestly, you don’t need more than a cheap microfiber cloth to remove dust and dirt from your lens or filters. Even though that is enough in most cases (and something that should always be in your camera bag), I do recommend purchasing a liquid lens cleaner too, as this helps get rid of all smudges and especially salty spots.
I’ve made it a habit to clean my equipment after each photo trip that lasts more than a day. If I’m out photographing seascapes or in windy/rainy conditions, I usually spend an extra minute afterwards getting rid of the worst. Making this a habit will help save you a lot of time in post-production using tools such as Lightroom’s Spot Removal.
If you’re getting serious with your photography, and perhaps you have even began selling a print or two, it’s even more important to get rid of those nasty spots. Just imagine selling a large print, then seeing that those small spots suddenly look large and take away the attention of the image. Don’t make that mistake!
Habit #3 – Don’t leave before it’s over
My final habit is perhaps one of my most important advice for any outdoor photographer.
Don’t leave before it’s over!
This is a habit I had to learn the hard way. It happened many times when I was an amateur photographer that I decided a sunrise or sunset wouldn’t turn into anything good, because the weather looked a bit shabby. Instead of staying at the location longer, I preferred to go home and hope for better conditions next time. What happened as I was driving back home? The sky turned red for just a few minutes.
Even though the conditions look a little dull it doesn’t mean that you won’t have a few minutes of good light. Alright, in most cases it doesn’t turn into something spectacular, but the times it does you will wish you had stayed for that 10-20 minutes extra.
So, remember this the next time you’re considering leaving early: it’s not over before it’s over. Stay a little bit longer, and perhaps you will be treated with great light that results in a portfolio worthy image. It’s worth it!
Are you guilty of missing these 3 habits? Have you developed any other habits, either in the field or when you’re back home? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
This week we are doing a series of articles to help you do nature photography. This is the first – watch for more coming soon!