Sunday, 16 October 2005

Photographer's First Rule

When doing photography, there are simple rules you can follow that make your life easier and ensure you take good pictures. Some only apply to certain types of photography, such as film vs digital or landscape vs portrait. Some of them make a good mental checklist when taking a picture; others make a good written checklist before you set off. When I think of a useful rule, I'll try to share it here, with an example of how it can help or hinder if you don't follow it. Here is the first one.

Photographer's First Rule: Camera Power

Never leave home without a spare set of batteries.

This is especially true if your camera requires an unusual battery. Take my SLR camera: it requires a 2CR5 battery, which is a 6 volt double battery that is quite difficult to find. To avoid being caught out, I recently bought an extended battery pack that takes standard AA batteries and allows faster film wind, as well as longer battery life. Unfortunately, this pack makes the body significantly bulkier and heavier so I decided no to take it to Peru. You will easily guess what happens next. Yesterday, as I had just arrived in Arequipa and was about to go see the Monasterio de Santa Catalina that the Lonely Planet on Peru describes as a paradise for photographers, I realised my camera's battery was empty. Panic! Where could I find a 2CR5 battery in Arequipa? Luckily, Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru, has hundreds of camera shops and the second one I visited had what I wanted. It was a close call though. What if it had happened on the Inca Trail and I had been unable to take pictures of Macchu Pichu? Now that I have a brand new battery it shouldn't happen but having another spare one would be better so I'm going to buy one straight away.

If you have a camera that takes rechargeable batteries, don't be complacent. Recharging the battery takes several hours and the perfect picture usually can't wait that long, that is assuming you have access to a power source and you have your charger with you. Obviously dictates that it will not be the case when your battery fails.

To finish the little story above, I did go to the Monasterio de Santa Catalina and confirmed it is a paradise for photographers by taking nearly 4 rolls of film.

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