Redundancy and Routine

Safe Scuba Diving is about redundancy and routine. 

On the redundancy front, not only do you learn backups and workarounds for the unlikely event of an equipment failure, but you also dive with a buddy, making some of your equipment quadrupally redundant.

On the routine front, the gear is assembled “just so.”  A “buddy check” before you dive ensures that your gear has been scrutinized by two sets of eyes.  During a recreational dive, you perform a 3 minute “safety stop” 5 meters below the surface to significantly reduce the chances of decompression sickness.  And after the dive, the gear is also disassembled into a precise and well-thought-out configuration that readies it for the next dive.

Waiting on the line to do 'three at five'... scuba divers 

My photography should perhaps be more like my scuba diving.

In Petra I used a lot of manual settings on the camera, including manual focus and modified ISO.  On Day 1, I forgot that I was on manual focus and rendered dozens of shots out of focus.  On Day 2, after a long-exposure shot at Petra By Night (below), I forgot I was at ISO 500, and many of my subsequent shots were unnecessarily grainy.

Petra by Night at ISO500

I was devastated at the time but now I see it as a hard lesson learned.  I often don’t have time to check every single camera setting before firing off a shot, and so I tend to assume the camera is configured in a certain way.  Neither ISO nor manual/auto focus is immediately obvious in the heads-up display in the D70s, and unlike in scuba, I don’t have a buddy to perform a “buddy check” before each shot. :)

So instead, I wonder if I should arrive at a configuration that I know I’m always going to leave my camera in when I turn it off.  And stick to it.  Or at the very least, arrive at a configuration for each shoot (desert, wedding banquet, pints in pub) and stick to it for the duration.

Does this resonate with any of the other photographers out there?

1 comment

  1. People reckon that ISO 400, f/8 is a good standard to leave your camera in between shoots – then if you need to take a ‘sudden’ photo there is a good chance that the resulting image will be reasonably decent (i.e. unless your shooting in very gloomy circumstances you can wip your camera out and still get a sharp photo in seconds).

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