Setting Up Your Equipment Before Leaving Home

Memory Cards. My Nikon D800 takes two cards one CF CompactFlash and one SD Secure Digital card. Reformat the cards to “blank” before going to the track. There is nothing like reloading in the midst of a cars on track session only to discover your memory cards need to be reformatted.

“Hint” I have my cards numbered into sets then stored in a ThinkTank Pixel Pocket one set per pocket. Title side out for blank cards and white side out for full cards.

“Hint” Check out for professional bags that are well thought out and built tough.

“Hint” Bring more memory cards then you think you need.

Camera. Clean and dusted before you leave home. Set the exposure method you wish to use. White card method. Follow focus method. MAKE SURE ALL YOUR BATTERIES ARE CHARGED. Both the battery in the camera and your extra batteries.

“HINT” I have gotten in the habit of changing batteries each day during the lunch brake insuring that I have a fresh battery for the afternoon.

Equipment Bag. I use a Airport Navigator roller bag. A small well designed bag that holds am amazing amount of equipment. I also use a soft easy to stuff or fold bag as a shoulder bag around the track. Leaving the roller in a locked locker I use the soft shoulder bag to carry an alternate lens and a few miscellaneous pieces.

This is an ongoing and forever changing list.

1.  Rain cover for your camera.

2.  Rain cover for your camera bag.

3.  Selection of empty ZipLock bags.

4.  ZipLock bag of extra camera/lens caps.

5.  ZipLock bag containing battery charger and extra battery.

6.  Lens and camera cleaning kit.

7.  ZipLock bag with any extra adapters or tripod locks.

8.  Business cards. Have more then you think you will ever need.

9.  Polarizing filter for each lens. More on this later.

10. Camera Body. If you have an extra body bring it.

11. 24mm to 70mm lens.

12. 70mm to 200 lens.

13. 200mm to 500mm lens.

The above three lens kit can be modified by using a selection of zooms. I personally carry a 200mm to 500mm and a 28mm to 300mm plus a 1.4 Tele Extender as my lens kit. After extensive testing these three lenses show excellent contrast, color, and sharpness. More on this later.

I use a mono pod with a three leg bottom piece and quick release mounted to a ball socket head. With some practice this has allowed me to pan the 200/500mm lens on the mono pod.

I recommend the largest ball socket head you feel comfortable with. The larger the ball the less likely your camera will shift in the middle of a pan. The quick release just makes life simpler.

This list has been compiled over the years to keep me equipped and comfortable. How heavy is your equipment bag late Sunday evening as you are lifting it up to the overhead baggage compartment? After carrying your camera and 500mm lens around for three days can you still hold it steady and pan smoothly Sunday? Maybe a mono pod will help?



Desktop with mouse and pad.

External hard drive. Shooting RAW images you will use up computer storage place in a hurry. An external hard drive is insurance against running out of storage space.

Device to download memory cards.

Power cord.

Extra cables.


iPhone with charger.


Personal needs.Sun screen. Be sure to clean your camera and lens each night. Once you allow the sun screen goop to dry on your equipment it’s hell to clean.

Damp wash cloth in a ZipLock bag. Use this to clean your hands after applying sun scree.

REI sells a neck scarf that you soak in water then wear around your neck to stay cool. This really works and you should have at least one.

Base ball caps are cool but a soft broad brimmed “old mans” or fly fishing hat will keep you out of the dermatologist office.

Sun glasses.

Rain jacket.

Wind breaker.


Options: Some sort of equipment vest. I use a Patagonia fly fishing nylon net vest.

Knee pads for that low angle shot.

Cargo pants with extra pockets. Many tracks do not allow shorts.

Water in a cooler. This is really not an option. Last year my friend Pete Lyons past out from dehydration and left the track in an ambulance.

Comfortable walking shoes or boots. No sandals.

No, absolutely no red, yellow, green, or blue shirts or jackets. Look if a driver confuses me in a red shirt for a waving red flag he has more problems then my red shirt. Still them’s the rules.

Now that the equipment is handled. Do you have your credentials, tickets or other paper work ready to go. Place it all in your equipment bag so you do not forget it.

Spend a little time reviewing coverage from earlier events of the track/eventyou are shooting. Pick out favorite corners. Check out the time of day, long shadows or morning fog may all add to your shot. Do a little research before you show up.

Send me an email I’ll be happy to answer any questions.