We just wrapped up an eight-day loca­tion shoot for an appar­el com­pa­ny and let me just say that it kicked our butts pret­ty hard with tons of sun and wind and a final day of record low high-temps for July in Min­neso­ta! Almost felt like it might snow. Our mod­els were troop­ers and took it all in stride even though they were freez­ing cold on more than one occa­sion. But this isn’t about the weath­er, this is more about the work­flow and process.
I like to use a pimped out Mac­Book Pro 15″ lap­top inside a Pel­i­can 1495 case mount­ed on top of a Git­zo tri­pod. This is heavy awk­ward beast to lug around when try­ing to nail down a spe­cif­ic loca­tion and angle, traips­ing along after the pho­tog­ra­ph­er and art direc­tor, but the work­ing con­ve­nience makes up for it. I also tend to use two A-clamps and a black­out cloth for iso­lat­ing the screen when view­ing images. Not pret­ty, but very func­tion­al. Plus, I feel like those old-time pho­tog­ra­phers with the old bel­lows cam­era on a tri­pod, the big cloth and the hand­held smok­ing flash thingie. The best rule about loca­tion lap­top use I can pass along is to put your screen bright­ness to off when copy­ing cards or back­ing up files. Only turn it up when view­ing crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion. This max­i­mizes your bat­tery life.
We start­ed off in the new Cap­ture­One Pro but ran into an issue on the first lap­top we were using and a con­flict (or some­thing) with the screen cal­i­bra­tion soft­ware pro­duc­ing real­ly whacked out dis­play glitch­es (hard breaks in smooth gra­di­ent areas). That took sev­er­al hours of trou­bleshoot­ing to iso­late lat­er that night and it was a good thing I had my ful­ly loaded Mac­Book Pro ready to go into action. Always have two lap­tops ready to work when on loca­tion (and lots of batteries)!
Being on loca­tion with a fast shoot­er always is an issue as the full mem­o­ry cards have a ten­den­cy to stack up when offload­ing to the lap­top. With the Canon 5d Mark II’s larg­er megapix­el images, it seemed like even more of an issue (cards fill up faster). Even with a Firewire 800 card read­er, it was tak­ing many mul­ti­ple min­utes to import images into C1Pro so we tried Light­room, which was about the same. There had to be a bet­ter way to work faster, so at lunch break on the first day I did a quick test on import­ing shots direct­ly into a “load­ing” fold­er on the hard dri­ve through the Find­er and then “import­ing” into Light­room using the “move and add to cat­a­log” func­tion, which also allowed me to rename the shots and attach the desired meta­da­ta. What a rev­e­la­tion! It took 3–4 min­utes to copy an entire card, RAW+JPEG, and about one more minute to get the images added to the library! Bin­go. These min­utes were invalu­able in allow­ing the clients and art direc­tor to view images full-screen in about as real-time as was possible.
I enjoyed work­ing in Lightoom very much for loca­tion shoot­ing, even with the move-then-add import­ing process. I usu­al­ly am request­ed to use Cap­ture­One Pro in the stu­dio but I’m fair­ly con­vinced to switch now when­ev­er pos­si­ble. Some data stats for you: The Light­room pre­view library was 20 gigs alone by the time we wrapped shoot­ing. We shot over 168 gigs of images using the Canon 5d Mark II, an increase of 5 megapix­els per shot over the 1ds Mark II. Good thing I recent­ly upgrad­ed my Mac­Book Pro inter­nal hard dri­ve with a 500-gig mod­el (I high­ly rec­om­mend this — check out OWC. Get all your RAM there, too).
Since the client want­ed to leave with con­tent, I did a lit­tle man­u­al file man­age­ment with the JPEG images once we were fin­ished and the client took home all eight days worth of images about thir­ty min­utes after we wrapped shoot­ing — they were still on their first round of drinks in the bar next to our last loca­tion so I didn’t miss out on too much!
Hope you found this use­ful, inspir­ing or at least inter­est­ing. If you need any loca­tion assis­tance, let me know!