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Planning - Hate It Or Love It?

Learning the hard way that a cup of coffee may lead to a few curses...

As a fellow photographer, you may have experienced one, more or all (like me) of the following during a trip out to catch a beautiful sunrise:

  • You forgot to fill the car with fuel and petrol stations don't open until 7am

  • The SD card is still in the computer after the last photo import

  • The camera batteries are all flat (even the spares)

  • The 'wake me up' cup of coffee you couldn't resist lost you that important half hour

  • The beautiful sunrise photos are all small jpegs at ISO 6400 because the last shots you took were of a sports event and you didn't change the settings in your excitement

  • You wish you had remembered your waterproof/hat/gloves/fleece - curse that weather forecast

  • The tripod quick release plate is on your other camera body

I have experienced all of the above, sadly some on more than one occasion, because I can't be bothered to get stuff sorted the night before. Perhaps I just hate planning?

I have got better at preparing for a shoot the night before, and I think the turning point was a trip to Buttermere. It was a dark, cold winter morning and I succumbed to the 'wake me up' cup of coffee. Very nice! As I got out of the house I knew it was going to be a lovely morning and regrets started to seep in. On the way to Buttermere (about a 30 minute drive) the pre-dawn light got better and better, warmer and redder with some clouds to show off the colours. It was obvious I wasn't going to get to the 'lone tree' on Buttermere's west shore in time. By the time I reached Crummock Water the sunrise colours were at their best, so I stopped to get a record shot, which was OK but the lake shore wasn't at the best angle for the light at that time of the morning.

Quickly back on my way I reached the National Trust car park at Buttermere with the beautiful red sky gradually turning to orange. Cursing, I commenced my hurried and sweaty jog to the lake shore and managed to get set up with tripod while there was still some warmth in the sky. Phew, a few nice shots at least, including the 'lone tree'! But it was definitely a case of what might have been, especially as I spotted a more organised photographer passing me with a large smile, clearly finished with his morning's work just as I was starting.

The rest of the morning was thankfully super enjoyable as the conditions were amazing and I managed to record several interesting shots walking around the lake, including some of very obliging highland cattle.

So now, although not perfect, I am much better at preparing the night before, carrying out checks to avoid the aforementioned problems, as well as preparing a flask of coffee! And when I wake in the morning and get out in time to my chosen location, and take a photo on an SD card, using a camera with power, set to the correct settings, sitting on a secure tripod, I realise that I really love planning.


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