Preparing for a Photo-Shoot in the Garden

Preparing for a Photo-Shoot in the Garden

Early spring is full of crocus. photo credit: R. Maurer

With spring coming forth in the garden, and a few more visitors to the Arboretum, I’ve noticed more photographers capturing moments of early spring.  So I thought it might be helpful to go over how I prepare my gear for a photo-shoot with fellow photography enthusiasts.

First, I often scout out an area months or days ahead of time to anticipate the lighting conditions I might like to have or take advantage of for a given image.  But we won’t go into that level of preparation here since the methods you can use vary greatly.  The night before a shoot, I gather all my gear and look it over to be certain I have everything I will need or want close at hand in case I need it.  There is nothing worse than being in a situation where you don’t have the equipment you need because it’s at home.  With that in mind, here is how I prepare.


Items to take with on a photo-shoot. photo credit: R. Maurer

Night before:

  1. Camera bag selected and cleaned
  2. Camera batteries charged and packed
  3. Extra batteries packed
  4. Lenses inspected, cleaned and packed
  5. Filters inspected, cleaned and packed
  6. Camera body inspected, cleaned and packed
  7. Camera image sensor inspected and cleaned if necessary
  8. Memory card formatted and loaded in camera
  9. Extra formatted memory cards packed
  10. Reset camera settings to most commonly used
    1. Exposure mode
    2. Metering mode
    3. Focus mode
    4. ISO setting
    5. White balance setting
    6. Image quality setting
    7. Microfiber cloth inspected and packed
    8. Rain cover for camera body with lens packed
    9. Pad, pencil, and business cards packed
    10. Flashlight and headlamp packed
    11. Clean and lubricate tripod levers and legs if necessary – often I do this right after a muddy or wet shooting situation to keep them operating smoothly
    12. If you have a speedlight, pack this with gels and extra batteries

Morning of the shoot pack the car with:

  1. Packed camera bag
  2. Tripod
  3. Water bottles and a snack
  4. Cell phone
  5. Maps if needed
  6. Baseball cap for keeping the direct sun out of my eyes
  7. Wear a photo vest or other pocket filled garment for all those lens covers, etc you need to put somewhere while shooting
  8. And I almost always bring a lightweight packable raincoat in the car, just in case
  9. Plan to arrive 15-20 minutes early so I can gather my thoughts and get set-up before my first exposure.  Especially since I might find other magical moments to capture I had not planned on!
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An example of the amazing images you can capture on an early morning photo walk. photo credit: R. Maurer

So if you’ve now prepared your gear for a shoot, why not join me next Wednesday for an early morning photo-walk at the Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College?   Here is a link to a great e-book by Dave Delnea titled BELOW THE HORIZON, Understanding Light at the Edges of Day to get you inspired.

Rhoda Maurer
  • John Manion
    Posted at 14:37h, 15 March Reply

    Rhoda: the next thing you know, you’ll be working for National Geographic!

  • Bob Lyons
    Posted at 19:43h, 15 March Reply

    Love the crocus shot… next bracketed shot would have reduced the dark background and brought up the perceived horizontal “horizon” line created by the tops of the crocus flowers….still loving your super sharp foreground detail on the flowers.

  • Matthew
    Posted at 07:19h, 16 March Reply

    Great tips Rhoda. I’m with John, NatGeo will be calling soon! Wish I could attend the photo-walk; that last pic is beautiful. Thanks for the e-book recommendation.

  • Rhoda
    Posted at 08:09h, 16 March Reply

    Bob – Thanks for the comments… the crocus shot is from our archives and was taken with a point and shoot camera 6 years ago before I became “enlightened”. I debated about even letting it get posted; but we are all constantly learning!

  • Rhoda
    Posted at 08:13h, 16 March Reply

    Matt – Glad the link is useful. David DuChemin and his team’s e-books are great.

    You can find more here:

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