Suggestions for That Extra Hour Today
Daylight Saving Time ended here in the United States as of 2 AM this morning. Some of you no doubt find yourself with an extra hour on your hands having forgotten to set your clocks back last night. Here are some suggestions on filling your newfound extra hour today.
Daylight Saving Time is a weird phenomenon. It's been many years now since it made sense to provide the illusion of extra daylight during the summer in order to get the crops in. Yet with just a few exceptions across the country, the tradition lives on. Every spring we "spring forward" and pretend as if we've lost an hour. Every fall we "fall back" and locate that missing hour again, hiding under the couch cushions. Or whatever. Most computers are able to correct their clocks automatically, both because they're connected to the internet and because they have enough compute power to be able to check for and act on the rules governing Daylight Saving Time changes.
Not everything is so smart. Me for instance. I remember years ago going to a movie theater for the first show of the day. I was supposed to meet some friends there. Not only were they not there, the theater itself wasn't even open yet. That seemed a tad odd. Surely they would get there early enough to at least turn the lights on an make the popcorn. After milling about for a while, not sure quite how to explain my uncomfortable aloneness, it finally dawned on me that Daylight Saving Time had ended and I was an hour early. Perhaps better than being an hour late, but I still would have preferred to be on time instead.
So if you're finding yourself with an extra hour to kill today, may I humbly offer a few suggestions on how best to make use of your newfound leisure time?
Check the Clock on your Camera
At least some modern cameras allow you to program in the dates on which the time changes. They can then use this information to automatically shift the time as Daylight Saving begins and ends each year. But many cameras can't perform this feat, relying on you to do the needful when the change occurs. Since digital cameras embed the date and time in each image they take as part of the wealth of metadata they track, it's important to make sure the time on your camera is correct. It is possible to edit this data after the fact, but it's far easier to get it right before you go shooting. It's a good habit to get into to double check the date and time on your camera each time you take it on a trip, but if you skip this ritual most of the year, at least remember to do it for Daylight Saving Time changes. Otherwise it could be all too easy to forget completely. They say you should use the time change as your queue to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. I say you should also include checking and adjusting as needed the time on your camera.
Read Your Camera Manual
Whether you actually have a printed manual for your camera or whether yours came only with an Adobe Acrobat pdf manual, chances are, it's no small document. Modern cameras have numerous features, all of which have to be described and perhaps illustrated. And chances are you skipped reading most of your camera's user manual when you first got it because you were in too much of a hurry to start shooting with it. That's understandable in my opinion. Whether you bought it for yourself or received it as a gift, getting a new camera is still basically like opening a present. But if you never go back and wade through the details of all those features on your camera, you will likely be missing something useful. So consider propping up your feet and doing a bit of reading in the user's manual for your camera. There's no telling what you might learn.
Clean Out Your Camera Bag
It's kind of funny. We put our cameras into a camera bag to protect it, but rarely do we ever consider what else is inside that bag that doesn't belong there. If you use your camera and camera bag outdoors with any degree of regularity, you will likely accumulate dirt and dust where you really don't want it. The change of Daylight Saving Time can be a great time of year to take all your gear out of your camera bag and clean the nooks and crannies not generally accessible. Cameras and dust don't get along well. We'd like to think we're doing a good job of keeping our cameras clean. Don't allow your camera bag to work against you. If it's not clean, there's always the possibility that the camera gear you keep in it will get dirt and dust in it. Lens elements don't like dirt. Camera sensors hate dust. Keep your bag clean and you'll be that much better at keeping your gear clean.
Take Some Long Exposure Images
No, I'm not suggesting you take an hour long exposure while you wait for your sense of time and your clocks to catch up to each other. That's perhaps a bit too extreme. But if you've ever wished to explore the world of longer exposures, this could be your big chance. I can't say what the weather is like where you are, but this time of year here in the Pacific Northwest isn't just the end of Daylight Saving Time. It's also the cusp of the rainy season. That could make it the ideal time to consider staying indoors and working to improve your techniques for long exposure. That has to start with the use of a good, sturdy tripod to avoid motion blur during a long exposure. But it also extends to understanding exposure for slower shutter speeds. Don't just let your camera determine everything for you. Most cameras will try their best to avoid blur by keeping exposure time short, even at the expense of depth of field. You'll be able to employ much greater creativity in your imaging by taking exposure matters into your own hands and away from your camera. Shen you're out shooting something important, it may seem to not be the right time to try out new techniques. So do it today when you have an extra hour you can devote to the task.
Catch Up on the Earthbound Light Archives
There are now over 14 years of weekly PhotoTip articles here at Earthbound Light. Some things stay the same but there's always a new way to explain important subjects. Other things continue to change and evolve with technology and the times in general. As a result, I have yet to run out of topics to write about. My thanks to those readers who give me new ideas by way of asking questions by email. I may not always have the time to reply directly, but many of those questions do find their way into my weekly tip articles, sooner or later. If you've been reading my site for any length of time, I hope you've found the time to be helpful. If you've been looking for the time to explore some of the older articles in greater depth, congratulations. You've got a extra hour today. Enjoy.