“Getting There With All Your Needed Equipment” (April 2009 Show-Me Nature Photography Newsletter)

Have you ever gone on a trip to your special, dream location, pull out your camera for a memory-making photo … just to find that either your equipment is not working, or that you left something critical at home, making you unable to make the image? Well, I have … and it’s no fun!!!

About 8 or 9 years ago, I heard that there were several ospreys migrating through the area and were at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, north of St. Joseph, MO. So I quickly gathered up all my equipment and headed up to the refuge to make some images of this interesting bird. We drove up, early in the morning, arriving there about sunrise. As we pulled onto the refuge drive, one of the ospreys suddenly flew overhead, hovered for a brief minute, then went into one of their patented head-first dives into the refuge water. The high speed dive took the osprey under water, out of our sight for a couple of seconds. Then, with a struggle, the osprey managed to fly out of the water, carrying a nice-sized fish in this talons. After watching him fly to a nearby tree, I pulled the car up close to the tree, unzippered my photo backpack, and pulled out one of my camera bodies and one of my telephoto lenses. Quickly, I attached the lens, leaned it outside the car window, and began to shoot some images of this beautiful bird … but, the camera wouldn’t operate! What happened? Was my gear broken? Had I failed to clean it properly? Well, a brief looksy from me, and I gave a sigh of relief … I had just forgot to put another roll of film into the camera! (this was in the “before digital” days). No problem … I reached around to grab a roll of film to correct the problem … Alas, no film!!!!! In my hurry to leave home, I had left all my film at home, in the freezer.

Let me tell you … this was the first … and last … time that this has ever happened to me! This trip taught me a very important lesson: Always be prepared! What was my solution to this problem? I began preparing a “trip list” for upcoming photo shoots, and still use a list today. In fact, whenever I schedule a trip, I immediately start a checklist for that trip. I include not only all of my photo equipment that I will take, but any accessory that I might use, any essential non-photo supplies (sunscreen, hand warmers, etc.), and any clothing that I may need (rain equipment, hiking boots, etc.). I look at this list on a regular basis, both reviewing what I already have on the list, as well as adding new items to it. Then, the day before we leave, I go over the list, checking off the items. This has really helped me assure that I haven’t left anything at home since!

My photo items on the list will include everything I “may need”, including cleaning supplies for my camera’s sensor, plenty of extra memory cards, extra batteries/chargers, lens brushes, lens tissue, photo filters/holders, tripod, rain gear for my photo equipment, etc., etc.

One of the most important things to remember when leaving for a trip where photographs will surely be made, is to be sure you have everything you need … especially if your trip leads you to those less-traveled paths, like I often experience in Alaska, or Baja, Mexico … in these areas, “Batteries Not Included” means “Photos Non-Existent”!!!!

If you have any questions regarding my “trip list”, please let me know. Likewise, if you want to share your experiences of leaving something important home, I’ll gladly listen … I know there’s got to be more like me out there somewhere! Send your questions or tips via this easy link: showmenaturepix@hotmail.com

And now … the rest of the story:
By the way, my osprey trip was not a total “failure”. Sometimes we see nature too much through the lens, and not enough with our own eyes. Although I failed to get any osprey images that trip, I was rewarded with being able to see this remarkable bird as it goes about it’s normal daily activities … I’m sure I would have missed something if I had the viewfinder glued to my eye all day!

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