There is one tool essential to the budding photographer, uh . . . shall we say “of a certain age”? It’s a tool that has yet to appear on a single list of equipment that I’ve found. It’s not been mentioned in any of the photography classes or workshops I’ve attended or discussed in the online class I’m currently taking.
Yet, when manual focus is required, the best way to achieve sharp focus on my camera is to use the LCD with live view and magnify the image 10x to see how sharp the focus is. This, however, cannot be achieved without the quintessential piece of equipment everyone leaves off their list–reading glasses!
Venus, Jupiter, and the moon have been teasing me the last few nights, promising some really great night shots. But, wind and preoccupation have prevented me from capitalizing on their convergence.
Tonight, Tisen reminds me it’s time to take our evening walk about the time the sun has disappeared behind the mountains. A few wisps of orange clouds leave the only trace of what might have been a dramatic sunset. Above the clouds hang the moon, Jupiter, and Venus, looking like they might be posing just for me.
I start grabbing equipment, hoping I might catch some of the last rays of sunset. I pause to change to a wide-angle zoom lens since I want to get some shots of all three heavenly bodies.
With my tripod bag over my shoulder, my camera around my neck, and Tisen on a leash, we head down to the riverfront. Tisen is more intent on going potty than on helping me get to a good shooting position before the last light fades. He doesn’t really have to go after the first three or four times, but not having been neutered until he was 8 means he will spend the rest of his life compelled to mark every vertical object that will stand still.
At last, I get to a good spot. I set up my tripod, position my camera, and start shooting. This is when I discover I’ve left my reading glasses at home. Not only does this eliminate manual focus as an option, but it also means I can’t tell if I’ve badly over exposed the moon and I can’t see which button turns on the histogram. I try moving further away to get to an achievable focal range for my eyes, but this requires kneeling on the sidewalk below the camera angled at the sky and craning my neck backwards, which makes me dizzy. I give up and shoot with multiple exposures in the blind hope that one of them is right.
I pack up and rush Tisen home, anxious to review my photos on the big screen.
Pat is using the big computer when I get back so I decide to switch lenses again and grab a few close-ups of the moon from our balcony. This time, I have my reading glasses, but I discover I may need a stronger pair!