Ok, the film is in hand and ready to go. But have I done my homework? What, there's homework? I thought it was just pack everything up and go? Not so fast, hotrod. You need to prepare to get there ready to take a photograph, than suddenly find yourself without some little thing, or worse, some really big thing. Never mind bringing the brain, that's obvious, it's what's in the camera bag and what you know that matters.

First, you need the some help, like a Checklist, an Operating Guide, a Focusing Guide, and a Selecting f-stop. It pays when you are starting to have a list which you check the camera bag. I use a visualization technique where I imagine myself in the field, and the steps to go through while I'll mentally checking the camera bag for the stuff I need. Sometimes I write it down for a checklist too.

Having done that and you're off into the world ready to shoot. Ok, where? Have you not planned of some places or scenes you've seen in your travels? I often have one or two places I've seen here and there, such as storefronts, building, things, etc., or some project in mind, such as old building ads or statues. This gets me there and thinking. If things don't work out because of the light, people, or circumstance, I'm already out looking, so it's a matter of walking around.

This is where many large format photographers suggest keeping the camera bag in the car and walk around. I'll take a 35mm camera with one or two wide angle or normal lenses, such as a 28mm, 35mm or 45mm, to get an idea of the viewfinder. It's not the same, and a 4x5 composing card can help better for the format and size of 4x5 versus 35mm.

And remember what they all say about photography, it's all about light. I've listened to some LF photographers who said they walked around all weekend, sometime driving some distances, to go home without taking the camera out of the bag. The light just wasn't there. So don't be afraid of not taking any images, but then you have your 35mm film or digital camera to explore things. Sometimes it's just going, going, and going, and be patient.

So, I'm off on the process of learning. Where's the film holders ready to go?

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