Out of practice

It doesn’t take very long to forget about some things. Good habits lapse and bad ones take over quickly.

I hadn’t been out photographing in about three weeks and was anxious to go last week. So I got up early Wednesday morning and headed over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – one of my favorite spots. Although I managed to come back with some photos I like, all did not go well. Turns out I was out of practice and there were several issues that made me miss shots. So today, I have a few reminders of things not to do. Maybe my mistakes will help someone else.

Morning glow Morning glow – from Gator Creek Road

  • I didn’t check the MINWR website before I went. If I had, I would have seen: “The Black Point Wildlife drive will be closed for two weeks for annual maintenance beginning 8/19/21.” Luckily, there are plenty of spots to explore in the refuge, so this wasn’t a critical error. But somewhere else, it could have been. Check the website!
Silhouettes Silhouettes

  • I hadn’t reset my camera / lens. My long zoom has a focus limiter switch. You can choose the full range of focus (2.4m – infinity) or limit it to one of two ranges. I usually keep it set to the 10m – infinity selection which speeds up focus response for birds in flight. I’d used it at home though for a close up (2.4m – 10m) and put it back in the case without reseting it. Then when I pulled it out at MINWR to photograph a distant bird, it wouldn’t focus. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I’ve made this mistake before, and it didn’t take long to correct. But it was confusing and I did miss a shot. Reset your camera and lens to defaults when you put them away.
Bird Buddies Bird Buddies

  • A lot of the time, I have my camera in my lap so it’s ready to use on short notice. But at one point while driving down Biolab Road, I’d put it in the open case on the seat next to me. Of course, a huge gator picked that time to stroll across the road in front of me. I probably wouldn’t have made the shot even if I’d been ready, but I would’ve had a better chance if the camera had been closer. Keep your camera ready at all times.
  • I’m really upset at myself about this last one. At some point during the trip I’d set my aperture to a small f-stop to increase my depth of field. And I forgot to change it back to wide open (the default – see above!!!). This slowed my shutter speeds and ruined a few photos due to motion blur that I wish I’d gotten. I usually don’t check my photos all the time, but the instant feedback you can get with digital cameras is wonderful – if you use it. Inspect what you’ve captured every once in a while so you can catch problems.
Morning meal Morning meal. A 1/125s shutter speed was fine for a still subject.

Header image: Looking west from Biolab Road, Infrared, B&W. Full version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51424824946/in/dateposted-public/

These mistakes are embarrassing – I hope I don’t repeat them the next time I’m out. And I hope they help you too!

“That is what you should not do. So let that be a lesson to you.”

Berenstain Bears: THE BIKE LESSON

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, avoid some mistakes and make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

8 thoughts on “Out of practice

  1. We all keep re-learning old lessons. I have to remind myself to check my gear before going out. Sometimes while I am shooting my camera settings get all mixed up and I have no idea how they got there.

    1. I guess what surprised me was how hard it was to get my “good habits” going again after only a little time off.

      Cameras have gotten very complicated, haven’t they? Do you use the Olympus Reset/Myset capabilities? That lets you save camera settings to memory and restore them easily. I remember them being confusing at first, but very nice to have once I had them set the way I wanted.

  2. Beautiful images to make my day better! Love that Gator Creek Road photograph.

    Here is one more in the “check/reset defaults” category: Check the exposure compensation setting. This one gets me when I get in a hurry. Nothing like seeing what you thought would be a great photograph completely washed out or way too dark.

    As a follow-up, your tip to “inspect what you’ve captured” is spot on. Only takes a second to glance at the LED screen which will allow you to make adjustments and perhaps save a special moment.

    I have tried hard to make it a habit to check my camera settings after a trip and just before a trip. Not always successful, but it’s getting better.

    Terrific tips, as usual, Ed!

    1. Thank you once again, Wally – I always like reading your comments.

      I think the exposure compensation gotcha bites a lot of us. It doesn’t help that that how it’s controlled varies some much from camera to camera. I’ve found that I make this mistake a lot less since I switched to mirrorless since I can see the effect in the viewfinder before the shot.

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