Another Episode of “Scott’s School of Hard Knocks”


First though, a big thanks to David Ziser for this wonderful post yesterday. I am such of fan of David’s work and his ability to pass on what he’s learned in the way he does, and it was an honor to have him here on the blog. Each special guest blogger has total free rein to write about any topic that’s on their minds, so it’s always a treat for me to see what they come up with.OK, now on to the story: I meant to actually write about this a few weeks back, when I was in New York for the Lou Manna Workshop and my B&H Photo class, but it completely slipped my mind (embarrassing stories have a way of doing that).

Anyway, RC Concepcion and I were to meet our buddy Matt Kloskowski the following evening for a shoot in New York, and we wanted to shoot some panos of the Manhattan skyline. RC heard of this nice view of Manhattan from across the river in Hoboken, New Jersey, where there was this long pier extending out into the river, so we went to check it out. When we got there, it looked empty enough at sunset, and far out enough that I didn’t think we’d have “The tripod police” ascend on us the following night (and thankfully, they didn’t).

So, we did our homework; we scouted the location the night before, and the following day we were ready for the shoot. Well got there 45 minutes early to get set-up and in place for that magic few minutes when the buildings reflect the setting sun, and turn that wonderful gold color you see in many great city skyline photos. RC couldn’t find a decent parking space tonight, so he dropped Matt and I off to go get set-up, which we did, and we were all set-up in place; we had the right lenses, our tripods, cable releases, etc.

Here comes the light!
I could see we were literally just minutes from that great light, and RC was still circling for a parking spot. So, I thought I’d crank off a few shots to kind of dial in the basic exposure and composition before the “magic light” hit because I’d only have a few minutes (and I was hoping RC would even get to see it). I went to push the shutter button and it wouldn’t fire. I looked at my LCD info window on the top of my camera and it said, “E” (no memory card). I had taken it out in my hotel room and forgot to put it back in for this shoot.

Now, this type of thing happens to me in more instances than I’d care to admit, but luckily Matt was five feet from with with a backpack full of gear, so I asked Matt if I could borrow a memory card. Matt had that frozen look on his face, and he said, “Oh no—-I don’t have an empty card. In fact, I only have the card in the camera, and it’s full of shots of my niece’s confirmation from this morning, and I haven’t backed them up yet, so I can’t shoot either.” So, there we were, Matt trying to free up a few empty shots by deleting and editing in the camera, and me looking on without a card altogether.

Matt and I were standing there futzing with all of this as we watched the magic light come and go without even firing a single frame. RC came up a few minutes later, and in true RC fashion—he had two empty cards for Matt and I, and within a few minutes there we were; three guys, shooting one of the world’s most recognizable skylines, with totally average “whatever” light, and we came away with the same average “whatever” shots that the tourists standing beside us probably got.

Now, none of us got the least bit mad—in fact, Matt and I just had to shake our heads and laugh, and we joked at the time, “Well, at least there’s a ‘School of Hard Knocks’ post there, that might help somebody else from making the same mistake.” However, we were able to console ourselves by going to Carmine’s on W. 44th street for an amazing dinner, and lots of laughs (mostly at ourselves).

The Moral of the Story:
So, the moral of the story is; use a pre-shoot checklist—a reminder list of what to bring to the shoot, and keep it in your camera bag, so you can check it before you head out the door. Also, if you’ve got any of your own checklists or ideas that you’d like to share here, please feel free. Oh, by the way; I had another episode this week, but you’ll have to wait for next week for that one.

Have a great Thursday everybody!

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