Just a couple of reminders that I will try to remind of time and time again…
-Take a fully charged back up battery and back up memory card with you always. The number one thing I hear on safari or remote trips is…”Don, did you happen to bring a charger along for my ten year old Nikon…I left mine at home and my battery is dead.” 100% of the time, my answer is “No.”
-Back up you best images in several places…including the unprocessed RAW file, the TIF file of your edit and the jpeg file you will use to print your image…plus a downsized watermarked file of the image for social media or your computer catalog. When I say “several places” I mean…I keep a file of those best images on my computer, on my laptop, on an outside hard drive, CJ has a copy of them at his home and/or at the gallery, we keep a copy in one or two cloud services and I periodically put my best ones on a thumb drive or hard drive and send it to my daughter for safe keeping in California. I might lose one or two of those…it would take a world calamity for me to lose them all…in which case I will have my hands full with other problems…like staying alive.
-Check the images you are shooting that day by reviewing them in the view finder or back of the camera…increase the size of them so you can see detail…and make sure they are the images you want BEFORE you leave the scene and go home. Hard to replace that great shot you took in China once you are back home in Kona and realize that great shot was kind of out of focus.
-Organize your RAW files and processed files so you can find them easily when you need them.
-Plan for failure. If I am traveling all the way to Africa…I can not take a chance that my camera body breaks or gets stolen. So…I travel with two of them…and so does my wife. Not perfect back up, but pretty darn good. And, we never check those camera bodies on an airplane…we hand carry them on…never let them out of our sight.
-Back up your images on the road. If you are in China and you have filled a memory card with great shots, feel free to keep those great shots on that memory card until you get home and put them in your computer…just use a second or third or whatever card for more photos. BUT…I copy those files onto some kind of a storage media that night…so I have them in two places in case something gets stolen or damaged or lost. If a couple of the images look epic…I back them up on a thumb drive and any other way I can think of to make sure I get home with them in duplicate or more…better safe than sorry.
-Insurance…have some. Cameras and lenses get lost, stolen or broken. If they are old and cheap…no problem. If they are new and expensive…buy the insurance they offered you. No sicker feeling than watching your brand new $4000 camera body and brand new $2500 lens drop over the side of the boat and head toward the two mile deep floor of the ocean. Poop happens…plan for it.
-A repeat because it is so important…check the images you are taking…check them while you are still on location…check them often…check them blown up so you can see the detail. I call it…look in the back of your camera.
-And I will close with a strategy for safety…Let’s say you get in a pressure filled situation where you have a great chance to get a unique photo….like the lava is dripping over a cliff into the sea. Maybe you only have a few moments to get that shot before the scene changes…the helicopter flies off or the boat moves. Don’t panic. DON’T SHOOT IT IN AUTO. What I do is to take as many shots as I can…changing one setting each shot…one at 1/1000th of a second, the next at 1/500th, the next at 1/250th, the next at a different ISO or I change the aperture. I try to bracket it manually…one exposure that I think is right on and then one or two over exposing it and one or two under exposing it…so I have a variety of shots to edit to get one JUST RIGHT. I am not smart enough to always get the settings perfect under pressure…so I CONTROL THE CAMERA to get a variety of shots…looking for that one perfect shot. I often take 50 shots of the same scene…all with different settings or slightly different compositions…trying to nail that award winning shot. No one but you will see the crappy shots you take…but the whole world might see your winner.
Have a plan to avoid photo disaster…I promise you that you will one day need to rely on it to save the day. Aloha.