Left with a little time on my hands today I spent an hour or so testing every single piece of gear I plan to use on a shoot next week. I generally shoot StupidCrap™ when I test gear when it's too cold (for me) outside and there happens to be nobody hanging around. Even though the shots don't really matter and end up expunged from my digital storage after a few seconds of evaluation I do usually have some sort of method to my madness.
Since it's been a long time since I actually spent more than 5 minutes shooting anything and even longer since I have used a lot of gear laying around here that I plan on using and even more importantly I have a bunch of brand new stuff I have never really used before I felt the need to quite literally give each and every tiny little insignificant thing a workout. I am quite paranoid when it comes to trusting things to be functional. Maybe your not but it's a pretty good idea to actually set up and try to use everything you plan on using and going through the motions of actually using it the way you plan to on real subjects.
For me spending an hour doing this is far far better than a checklist of some sort. This is when you discover things that are missing, you may have forgot, a missing piece here or there, a constraint that you didn't anticipate. All of it. Of course you also verify that nothing is completely broken as well. Every memory card, cable, radio remote, flash, light stand, modifier, everything. I also use this time to push various limits of my gear - especially if I have under a few thousand shots (real shots of real subjects under various conditions) under my belt. It goes a long way towards knowing your gear and exactly how it will work - exactly how it will look. Getting these things out of the way is also a huge psychological advantage for me when working with a real subject. It removes a lot of questions, lets me focus on the important stuff and when I experiment it's on image ideas - not inane gear related experiments.
A few of the things that I was testing today in various combinations I actually made myself - especially important to test on StupidCrap™ before wasting drive time, subject time, and your own time. All of these things are cheap little lighting gadgets, modifiers, tools, whatever you want to call them. They were born of my frustration with the lack of or expense of things that do what they do. A couple of them will (hopefully) be on sale here very very soon. I am pretty excited about them - not because they are some silver bullet but because they are either unique or really really cost effective and in most cases both. I'll be testing some of them live and in color with real subjects starting next week.
For now you'll have to be satisfied (yea right) with my StupidCrap™ at the top of this post. This particular lousy image has the distinction of being the last test image that I shot today. Officially it's reason for existence was to test the last pocket wizard on the shelf. It also happens to use three of my prototype lighting products as well. What you may not have picked up on is that it was shot at about 6pm in completely darkness with no ambient whatsoever. It looks pretty much exactly like the ones I shot earlier with morning sun streaming in the window. It's actually a fairly useful technique that I will explain as well as a couple of variations in the coming days.
Have a great weekend.
Ps. D600 image processed with two clicks of VSCO Film 02 in ACR7 - Click one = Fuji Superia 400. Click two = Fuji Tone.