Trails near Galena, SD.

Trail in the Black Hills NF Trail System, near Galena, South Dakota.

Here we go! ATV/UTV unloaded and running, riding gear on, GoPro attached, start recording … start recording … start recording. Seriously!?! I can’t believe I forgot to charge the battery.

In the rush of getting packed for the ride it’s easy to forget to check batteries. Or maybe batteries are charged, but I forgot to download files and format media cards from the last ride. My option at that point is to delete footage of the last ride without backing it up, or not record this trail ride. All of this can be prevented with a little planning.

Planning ahead

So much to get ready, even for a short ride, it’s easy to forget the little things that can have a big impact. So, along with my other trail ride planning, I’ve added a electronics equipment checklist I go through the night before. It ensures everything will be charged and ready to pack in the morning. The last thing I do while preparing for the ride is to complete as much of my ride log as possible. This includes information I want to remember about the ride, share with others, and blog about.

Think about what you want to capture

Because I’m capturing information I may want to use in a blog post, I probably have more detail than needed, but I would rather have too much, than not enough.

At the very least I create a shot list (mental or written) of the video and still shots I want to capture.

  • historic spots
  • scenic views
  • riders and machines
  • before and after photos
  • action shots (mud, water, rock climbing, crawling over obstacles)

Multiple shots of the backside of those you ride with might start to lack the view and action you want to share. One of the shots I like to capture is of other riders as they come down the trail. This might require some pre-planning and setup. Your friends will be patient with you if you promise to share that great shot you got of them crossing a creek.

Protect your equipment

Be sure you have the appropriate protection for your devices when transporting them on the trail. If you can’t protect it, leave it at home.

Preparation for any kind of weather conditions is key. Keep an eye on the temperature. Too much heat can damage devices and media, while cold temps can drain batteries. Moisture and dust are your enemy. Dry and clean equipment will operate as expected. I’ve had some great shots fail due to a mud-splashed lens.

Lastly, make sure your equipment is protected against theft.

Record photo and video information

If you take photos or video of specific areas, jot down any info you can at the time of the shot. GPS coordinates, names of those included in the shot, name of the location (Railroad Buttes, Golden River, etc.), if you took a specific trail to get there record the trail name or number.

After the ride

Now that the ride is over, don’t forget to download and backup your files. As rides blur together, the more quickly you can title, caption and format your photos and video, the more detail you will remember. And you won’t have to worry about it the day before your next trip.

Keep yourself as part of the trip

As the trip photographer, don’t be shy about asking someone else to take a few photos of you engaged in the fun, too.

Your thoughts

Let me know what you would include on these checklists. What shots did you not take and later regretted?

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