Make a List... Check it Twice... and Check What's on the List, too.

posted on 27th of july, 2007

I was recently asked to photograph a celestial event for a friend -- one that occurs only every 18 years. I was thrilled but also a little apprehensive. I'd have one shot to get it right.

I made a list of everything I needed. And I checked it again and again as the day approached. But, as luck would have it (or lack thereof), things didn't go according to plan.

The day before the big event, I took my camera and tripod out for a normal day of shooting. The camera returned home with me. The tripod didn't. It was essential for the shots we wanted to get -- a long sequence showing the moon rising and its path across the sky for a half hour.

No problem, I've got a "backup" tripod. But, I realized in the field that I didn't know how to use it. Luckily, the manipulation of a tripod is not rocket science so I was able to muddle through the setup in dusky light. Great. One hurdle cleared.

I setup the camera and remote shutter -- including putting the camera in manual mode -- the item I had most expected to forget. The shutter starting clicking away every 10 seconds as planned. Ka-Cha. Great! Ka-Cha. I was free to wander with my, Ka-Cha, second camera and enjoy the scene. Ka-Cha. The moon came up. Ka-Cha. It was right where expected. And it started its transit across the sky.

Hmmmm... It was awfully quiet. I rushed to the camera to find out what was wrong. Why wasn't it shooting?! The remote shutter is still counting down. ? Ack! No display on the camera! The battery!!

Now before you smile knowingly at me, let me tell you that I'd charged my batteries... all three of them that afternoon. That _was_ on my list. Fully charge all batteries. Check. But, one of my batteries was as old as the hills and, apparently, could no longer hold much of a charge. I hadn't thought to check _that_. Luckily, I was able to diagnose the problem and switch to a good battery in about 20 seconds. We lost very little of the sequence. Phew!

The moral of my story... check your list. Check it twice. (Check it a few more times for good measure.) And, moreover, check the _equipment_ on that list.

Tune in next time... when I get a chance at a do-over... and we learn that I don't always learn from my mistakes.

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