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Not just one. I own maybe a dozen. I left them all behind. You see, seven were set aside after a recent trip to Peru until I ensure all the images had been copied from the travel laptop to the network attached storage and then to the desktop. One was sitting beside my Mac for no apparent reason. Another was in the card reader from another late night project the day before. Four others were in their case in a different camera bag (testing bags as often as I do, it seems something always gets left behind).
Long story short: I had a beautiful view of Mt. Baker in the Washington Cascades, bright and stark against the gray clouds behind it. I was on a ferry boat and no chance to run home. I was out of luck.
From that experience I came up with two tips I hope will help you never have to see “No Card” when you least want to.
When I speak of Post-It Notes, I don’t mean leave yourself yet another note that gets lost in the pile of notes on your desk or around your monitor. I mean take a standard sized Post-It Note and cut it in half. One of those is your backup note. Take the other note and place it, right now, on the slot where your main card is not. If your main card is in your camera at the moment, put the note on your card reader (if you have more than one reader, put the spare note on that one too). If the card is in your reader, place the note over your camera’s card door (I’d advise against placing it inside to prevent part of the note ripping off and becoming stuck in the card or battery slot).
This way, when it’s time to take the card out of the camera and download into a computer, you simply take the Post-It off the reader and place it on the camera. I tend to close my camera’s card door for fear of if being hit and broken off. This note lets me close the door and not have to wonder. It’s not a fool-proof method (the note, once used too often, can simply fall off), but it helps.
A lot of camera bags now have holders for spare cards, sometimes two. I used to scoff at these as I carry far more than two cards in separate LowePro hard cases. But before my last trip I decided to buy a couple more cards and store them in such a pocket. I’m glad I did as I was faced with the “No Card” message again. That time, all I did was pop open the velcro pocket and drop my spare card into the camera.
Otherwise, if I don’t have such a pocket in my current test bag, I will leave one of my two hard cases with one to four cards inside my travel bag.
Don’t be a (sometimes) idiot like me. Make sure you always know if your camera is ready for shooting.
Disclaimer: It took me 10 years of shooting digitally before I made this mistake. I hope you never have to experience it! Speaking of which, do you have any other tricks you would suggest readers try?