Setting up a project to shoot progressive photographs of a construction project, as outlined in my blog post ‘Preparation, preparation, preparation’, is only the first step in achieving a successful outcome. If you are not properly prepared for each of your regular visits, you good project set up will be for nothing.
You will only do these once – arrive on site once to find your memory card full, camera battery low on charge or not have the correct paperwork.
So a bit of preparation the evening before the shoot will go a long way to capturing the right images while keeping your stress levels to a minimum. The suggestions that follow are equally relevant to any photographic shoot, not just construction projects, so its good to prepare a pre-shoot checklist and get into the habit of using it every time.
The first thing to get in order is your administration. This will include printing off the relevant drawings and viewpoint schedules. Reviewing these will reinforce how you intend to sequence the shots.
If you have already taken before shots and plan to take either in progress or completed shots, it is useful to print off a contact sheet with the previous images. This will help you to compose the follow up shots the same as the previous ones.
Rather than arriving on site and start by check and adjusting your camera settings, do this beforehand. Settings to set up and check include: folder and image file references, your ISO, that your memory card is in the camera (rather than in your desktop from the last download) and that there is enough spare capacity in your memory card. On the last point it is good practice to carry at least one spare card in case of card corruption or reaching capacity.
Finally, make sure you have your white card (or similar), any security passes and your credit card.
Ensuring that your equipment is going to work properly is essential to a successful outcome. Key to this is making sure that all your batteries are fully charged. This clearly refers to your camera batteries, but you also need to check the level of charge on your smart phone and tablet.
You may use other equipment such as speed lights and a Cam Ranger, so check the charge on these as well.
As well as charging all your batteries, it is also good practice to carry spares – fully charged, of course!
Finally, when checking the settings on your camera, it is good practice to give the sensor a blast to remove any dust that might be lingering from the last shoot. If you have been on particularly dusty site, it may be best to have the sensor professionally cleaned, or, if you feel confident enough, buy a sensor cleaning kit and do it yourself (its not that hard).
Check you lenses for dust and clean them as necessary. If on site for an extended period, it is a good idea to check for dust on the sensor and lenses regularly – it helps keep your time in front of the computer to a minimum
Finally, expect the unexpected! You do not have any control over what happens on a construction site. You may find that your best laid plans are thwarted because of pressure washing above simulating a (dirty) rain shower, jackhammering causing too much vibration or scaffolding not completed on time preventing access.
Its good to be prepared with a contingency!