The Camera Check, The Evening Before

When people go to church and pray, usually they are have a ritual. It involves getting dressed, gather the… It's a ritual. Me, I have a similar ritual before going to create photos. I usually do it the evening before, so my bag is ready and I just have to pick it up. Since it's a ritual, I always do it in the same way. Now it's almost automatic and it usually takes me about 10 to 15 minutes unless something special is involved like recalibrating the lenses.

  • Check the battery levels of the cameras. If it's below 50%, I usually replace the battery. That's why usually I do this the night before, so the batteries can be charged overnight.
  • Check the battery (I use Sanyo/Panasonic Eneloop batteries) levels of the flash with my battery tester. If it's below 75%, I recharge them.
  • Clean the lenses. I use an LCD screen cleaner to clean the contacts on all the lenses and on the cameras. I use my trusty Giotto bulb blower and sometimes the LensPen to clean the camera and the lenses.
  • Mount my “default” lens/lenses for the day. These are my “go-to” lenses, what I think I will start with.
  • Set the camera to my defaults. RAW, Aperture Priority mode, ISO 200 for outdoor or 400 for indoor, the AF in Zone mode with the zone linked to the orientation, slow speed drive, daylight white balance (even indoor), AI Servo. The aperture is set to the widest aperture of the lens minus 1 full f/stop (that's my starting point).
  • Do I need the tripod, the panoramic head… ?
  • Check the focus of each lens/camera combination with my Spider LensCal. Do I do this for every job? No! I only do this for the “important” jobs. What's an “important” job? It's a job that cannot be repeated before of the people not being available, because of the the expenses involved, or the travel involved… The majority of my jobs are usually 2 sessions so if something goes wrong on the first one…
  • Take a couple of photos to verify that everything is working as expected and check them with the Playback.
  • For every new job, I use an empty memory card. I do not reformat my memory cards, I just move the photos from the memory card to the computer.
  • I have 2 small pouches with all kind of “stuff” that I always take with me. They contain lens and body caps, an IR remote trigger, a spare Arca-Swiss plate, spare batteries, a LensPen, a 3-axis hot shoe level, a folding grey card, knives, pens, screw-drivers, the memory cards, a small writing pad… I just put them in the backpack.
  • Check the date and time. There is some time drift. It's not too much but when there is more than one camera or more than one photographer, it does become critical.
  • Check the copyright per camera. I only do this at the beginning of the year and on “important” jobs. What's an “important” job? It's a job that cannot be repeated before of the people not being available, because of the the expenses involved, or the travel involved… Each of my cameras have a slightly different copyright. One camera has one dash, another camera have two dashes, another camera has the word copyright instead of the (c)… So I can identify which camera did what without giving the information away to the customer.
  • What else is involved? Anything special like dog treats, ladder, knee-pads…

That's my ritual, what's yours?