Reset your gear

December 31, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I was photographing an airshow. Naturally, I set the camera up to succeed at capturing fighter jets. One of the settings I used to make my lens focus quicker is to set the focus limiter to ten meters or yards (give or take) and beyond. Knowing that none of the flying planes will be closer than ten meters or yards from me, this setting is logical. It makes no sense have the lens search for focus throughout the entire focus range. By limiting the focus range it saves the lens from hunting for focus. My airshow shoot was a success and I am satisfied with the images I got.

          However, it was a long day. The sun was beating down in me, in fact, I got sun-burned. By the end of it all I packed up everything and headed home. The memory card was taken out at home and the images were processed. Fast forward some time and I find myself at a lake. There were many Pheasants at the lake. This was the first time I saw such Pheasants out in nature. It was very cold and the wind cut through me. I jumped out of the car excitedly and grabbed my camera. I stalked a Pheasant and was in the perfect position. The light was beautiful, warm, and soft as light clouds defused the the light. I pressed the shutter and the camera would not fire. The main memory card was still sleeping on my desk at home. No problem, I thought. I moved the backup memory card to slot one. (My other memory cards were in my bag in the car) I followed the Pheasant a bit, repositioned myself, and pressed the shutter to shoot. Nothing happened! After fiddling with the menu system dealing with the card slots it worked. But there was a problem. By now the Pheasant was gone. The opportunity was missed. Feeling dejected and wanting to kick myself, I got back into the car, begged for some pity from my awesome wife, and drove off.

          A few minutes later I saw another Pheasant in the distance. I watched it to see which way it was going and devised my plan of attack. I took a round about way, walking into the field quite a ways, in the hopes that the Pheasant would be coming my way. It paid off! The Pheasant come strait to me. It did not even notice me. It walked right up to me and came within two yards of me. I was so excited. I thought that I hit the jackpot. The award winning image was already teasing my imagination. Since the bird did not see me yet, I did not want to move and waited for the perfect moment. The light was not as nice as before since the clouds moved some, but I thought that it was still okay. To not scare the Pheasant off, I slowing got the camera into position and pressed the shutter. But the camera would not focus. I had no idea why not. I changed focus modes, but that did not help. I tried a few other focus modes, they did not help either. Within moments the Pheasant saw me, and hurried off. This is the image I got:

At first I thought that my Sony A7R IV's focusing system was useless. I was not happy. I looked at the image in the car and saw that it was back focused. After searching for the problem, I found it. The lens' focus limiter was still set on ten meters (yards) from the airshow. That was two opportunities missed because I never checked and reset my gear. It was a rookie mistake and a hard lesson to learn. So here is my advice:

  1. Reset your gear (all of it, not just the camera) right after every shoot. Remember to reset the settings on your lenses too.

  2. Program your custom shooting modes and use them. If you accidentally forgot to reset your gear, it is much easier to change just one dial to program everything you need for your shoot than to set each individual setting. On my camera, custom mode one is set to landscape settings and custom mode two is set to wildlife. This has saved me a few times in the past. (Yes, apparently it has taken me a long time to learn this lesson)

  3. Load a fresh pair of memory cards right when you take the used ones out. Have at least four memory cards. I prefer that all four of them be the same card (make, model, and size). A camera should never be left without fresh, empty and formatted memory cards. You never know when an unplanned opportunity arises and of course, that opportunity will be short lived not leaving you any chance to check things or to load memory cards.

Luckily, this is not where my story ends. With everything finally set and working, another Pheasant showed up down the road. I wish that it had more direct sunlight on it, but oh well, that is the price you pay for not being prepared.


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