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!