Ryu: To the forgetful ones

Once again, I’m writing this on the flight on my way back home.  Having just shot 3 consecutive matches (you’ve guessed it) in 3 consecutive days, I’m a bit tired.  But football season has begun in earnest and it’s all downhill, ahem, uphill from here on out.  This post is dedicated to a sorry looking guy who I saw yesterday at the Allianz Arena, clutching his 300mm f2.8 without a monopod.  My sympathy goes for him and having had to endure the same predicament 2 weeks ago, I started to wonder how one can survive a similar situation McGuyver style.

So, if you were dumb enough to have forgotten your…

That will be me. Carrying a 70-200mm, let alone a 400mm f2.8 without a monopod for an entire match can seriously damage your soul as well as some muscle fibres in your arms. The only solution is to carry it with your spindly arms, but there is a limit as to how long you can carry it.   If you think I’m joking, try carrying the biggest lens you have in a shooting position for 5 minutes.  Here are several suggestions depending on your seating arrangements.   If you are sitting on a stool, forget about the big lens (300mm f2.8 and 400mm f2.8) and just use your relatively lighter lens such as the 70-200mm f2.8. You won’t be able to shoot long, but you can concentrate on your short game.  If you are adamant on using the big lens, you might be able to prop it on the advertisement board in front of you.  If you are sitting on the floor, lay your photo bag on top of your knees. Then use the bag in conjunction with your elbows as a support and you’ll be a happy sports photographer.  You can also do the same without a photo bag.  Just sit with your legs crossed with your knees facing up and place your elbow and/or arm to support the lens.  Lastly, you can have one knee up as if you’re proposing to someone dearest and place your elbow on that knee for support.  In any case, think of it as an opportunity to display your biceps to the public.

Happens a lot more often than you think.  The best solution is to go at it like the American football photographers: stand on your knees.  You might not have those cool kneepads that they use, your jeans might be caked in mud and grass, and you might end up with a carpet burn, but aside from accusatory look from your loved ones, that’s the best solution.  But what if the advertisement board is too high?  Join the “You’re a bit short, aren’t you?” club.  The best way around this is to stand.  You might get a crappy angle, but at least you can shoot.  But if the fans are directly behind you and you are obstructing their view for which they paid a lot more than your per match wage shooting the match, you can do what my colleague suggested.  If you use rolling cases like the Think Tank International, you can prop that on its side and sit on the wheel.  That portion of the bag is fortified with space age plastic and it won’t break unless you weigh a lot more than the dude sitting next to you.  Don’t go crazy with this idea and sit on the bag when it’s upright.  You’ll be going home without a bag and a stool.

….rain gear.
If you shoot outdoor sports, you know what I mean here.  Even though your camera might be waterproof, you don’t want to take that risk.  If you can find a garbage bag, grab it. Put the camera inside the garbage bag and make a small incision at the bottom.  The incision should be barely fit the diameter of your lens.  By doing so you will ensure a snug fit, thus providing a good seal against water.  If you are unlucky on the garbage bag front, you can use a towel or an extra t-shirt.  If the rain is not too heavy, these should provide adequate protection.  Wring them before you put them back on.  You might be lucky and have a waterproof shell that came with your photo bag.  If these are detachable from the bag itself, use it to cover your camera and lens.  Your bag can withstand H2O better than your gear.  Crazy but true.

…memory card.
Now we are entering a “You really are dumb” part of this post.  But having forgotten them earlier on in my career, here’s how I dealt with it:  Buy the damn thing.  Most electronic stores and even some kiosks sell CF cards and Micros SD cards.  Just buy one. But make sure you don’t go all out and buy the 16GB card as you know you’ve got those back at home.  Buy one with enough capacity to last half the match.  Why half? Because you can dump the data onto your computer at half time and have an empty card ready for the 2nd half.  If you are too cheap to buy a memory card, you can ask your colleague / friends / fellow parents.  But I guarantee you will get that “And they let this you in?” look.  Not recommended.

Really?  But I have also done this as well.  If you forgot your big lens, all you need to do is to put on the next big lens and try to move closer to the action.  Whether that entails you sitting closer to the goal or going up the sideline, it depends on the sports and how hung over the officials are.  You’ve got legs, they are your zoom for the day.


Sorry, you can’t be helped.


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9 thoughts on “Ryu: To the forgetful ones

  1. Nice blog post. Ryu has missed one main thing though.

    You can have your camera, monopod, lenses, memory cards etc with you. They are all pretty much useless if you manage to turn up with all your gear and then realise that you’ve forgotten to ensure that your batteries are actually charged. Flat batteries are not conducive to a successful shoot, no matter what it is you are shooting.

    BTW I think I’ve managed to do most of the things on Ryu’s list.

    1. Mike,

      Ah, I forgot about them. Unfortunately, not much you can do other than hoping to get lucky that your colleagues have brought a charger or an extra set. I have to agree that I have come across this situation numerous times myself.

  2. what can go wrong will go wrong and what can be forgotten back home will be forgoten at one point or another.

    arriving at one game and discover the cameras is missing in the bag – big mistake
    still manage to drive like mad home and fetch them and arrive for the last 20 minuttes and get the pictures – priceless.

    goes without saying arrive early and you can correct most f/… ups.

    1. Richard,

      Very true. I do try to arrive early so that I can format my CF cards, which for some reason I always forget to do. You’d think after 6 years of this, you’d learn to not forget something basic like that…

  3. May seem a trivial thing but, having all the gear (check) + laptop (check) BUT no means of transfering images :0, I’d forgoten my card reader + the USB camera cable was on my desk after I’d “cleaned out” my bag :(. I had a mad 1hr franticlly trying to find a camera store in a strange city that had a CF card reader :(. I got back to the game just after kick off & wired images ok!! fewww :). Kind regards Graham.

  4. Graham,

    I did have a CF reader break on me once on a job and since then I always carry two. But one with FW and one with USB. You know, just in case either of those plugs break on my computer. :)


    1. Absalutly agree Sjur, but events conspire! &, come Saturday Morning, sometimes I don’t know if I’m covering Football / Rugby / Cricket (summer only), or a combination of the above so a shuffle of gear is usual for me which leads to errors on my part!!. I’m not analytical enough to remember what’s in my bag so I guess what i really need’s a bigger bag!! LOL

  5. Mental check list is as reliable as reminding me to do the dishes.
    As you have mentioned, the best might be to create some kind of a physical check list that you can go through the day before you go to the shoot. I’m sure that will eliminate a lot of guess work such as taking a stool thinking that it was the monopod (me).

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