Photography 101: Preparing for a Photo Shoot

Stephen F. Dennstedt

How do you prepare for a photo shoot? I always (or almost always) prepare the night before. What photography kit I pack with me depends on what I’m going to shoot and what the anticipated shooting conditions are like.

So, most of you know brother Joel and I are in Iceland. Tomorrow morning, when it’s still dark outside, we are being picked up at our guesthouse for a full-day excursion into Iceland’s hinterland. Reykjavik is really neat but—

It will be great to finally get out of the city limits to explore the countryside. The forecast calls for clear but cold weather. With good lighting anticipated I shouldn’t need any of my super fast lenses (f/1.4 or f/2.8) and my f/4.0 to f/5.6 image stabilised lenses should be more than adequate. This excursion was booked through a commercial tour operator and not specifically designed with photographers in mind. Not the best situation I admit but I will try to make it work. That means minimal gear: one camera, two lenses and no tripod or filters. Left on my own I would normally have time to set up for long exposures.

Atacama Desert – Northern Chile

I will be competing with iPhone and iPad photographers for the most part so this will be more of a run & gun shooting situation. Again, not my cup of tea but lacking our own transportation and mobility requires us to travel with a group. I’ve done this before and though it can be frustrating a photographer can still manage some good shots with proper effort and experience. Getting isolated environmental shots without gobs of people in them is another challenge when photographing iconic, heavy-travelled locations. My camera will be my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV full-frame DSLR.

Perito Moreno Glacier – Southern Patagonia, Argentina

My two lens choices will be my Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM zoom lens and my Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM super-telephoto zoom lens. With these two stellar image stabilised lenses I can shoot everything from macro to super-telephoto. I wish I had the time to shoot long exposures with a tripod, polarising filter and ND filter but such is life. You do the best you can with what you have. It will still be amazing to get out and about in Iceland and for that I’m grateful even if it’s not exactly the way I want to do it. At least I’m here and doing what I love to do. Keep your fingers crossed.

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