31 Watch the weather
From deciding whether it’s worth going at all, to thinking about what to wear and what gear to take, any outdoor photography shoot is dependent on the weather. So get used to checking the forecast before you go out, but don’t necessarily wait for bright sunshine and clear blue skies, as some of the most photogenic and dramatic lighting often comes before or after stormy, unsettled weather.
32 Think time and tide
If you are shooting near the coast, it’s always worth checking the tides, for both the best time to photograph the sea and also for your safety if you want to venture onto the shore.
There are plenty of online resources, such as the Weather section of www.bbc.co.uk, which will give you the tide times for the next five days or so. It’s important to protect your gear when shooting at coastal locations too; grains of sand can ruin the expensive mechanisms inside a camera, and sea water won’t do them much good either.
33 Do some ‘gardening’
Attention to detail can make the difference between a good shot and a great one. So along with taking the time to find the right composition, don’t forget that when possible you can also move, or even remove, distracting elements in some situations.
The classic example is when shooting macro or close-up shots, where tidying up any stray or dead foliage from the subject before you take the shot can transform an image from good to great.
But remember that taking pictures doesn’t give you carte blanche to damage anything. Be very careful not to disturb wild flowers too, as accidentally damaging a rare species can land you in hot water. Leave the photo scene just as you found it.
34 Research locations
Not every trip produces award-winning shots, but that doesn’t have to mean that it’s a waste of time. Use it as an opportunity to scout out locations, viewpoints and subjects for future shots when the light or weather is going to produce better results.
When you find a likely location, it’s also worth checking where the sun will be at sunrise and sunset for the best light (try www.sunrisesunsetmap.com).
35 Use in-camera retouch
Similar to the raw processing option, many cameras also offer you the option of applying a range of effects and adjustments to JPEG images. While this doesn’t offer quite as much control over the final result as using most image-editing programs, it’s a great way of doing some basic adjustments if you don’t have access to your computer. Remember that you’ll need some space left on the card, though, as the adjusted file will be saved alongside the original.
36 Use in-camera raw processing
Shooting in raw format is essential for getting the best-possible quality from your camera, but unlike JPEG it’s not the most convenient format for sharing or viewing straight from the camera.
Many recent digital cameras have included an in-camera raw processing option that allows you to convert raw files before you copy them to your computer. This is perfect if you need to view the images on a computer without raw processing software, or you simply want to quickly see the effect of any image adjustment.
37 Record where and what
Unless your camera has built-in GPS, you’ll have to remember where you took the shot. Try shooting a sign or easily identifiable landmark if you can find one, or record a short video or voice clip for future reference.
38 Keep your gear to hand
It’s all too easy to just stuff everything back into your bag in no particular order once you’ve taken your shots, especially if you’ve changed lenses or used other accessories.
But you’ll save loads of time searching for that elusive memory card or cable release if you get into the habit of putting them into the same pocket or compartment of your bag each time you pack up. Or, keep memory cards and short lenses in a fanny pack.
39 Clean your tripod
Tripods get a pretty raw deal, getting covered in mud, sand and worst of all sea water. So to keep your tripod sections and locks working smoothly, remember to wash off any dirt or salt water before you put it away. Otherwise, the metal components can start to corrode or jam when sand or dirt finds its way into the leg mechanisms.