I don’t always plan to do astrophotography, but sometimes when conditions are just right, it seems like a crime not too. That’s how I felt about the ‘Super Blood Moon’ lunar eclipse sweeping over the sky this weekend. Except it wasn’t until 3 min before the event that I found myself scrambling for equipment and feeling guilty for initially planning to avoid it. For the excursion, I grabbed my Canon 80D and a tripod I’d gotten in high school. On the way out, I noticed one of the spacers that kept the tripod legs at a certain distance, was not attached to the body. Since the tripods I’d used in school never had spacers, I didn’t think it would be an issue. Forty-five minutes later, I found myself on the edge of a hill in the middle of our little town with at least 50 others who’d also chosen that spot for the best view.
Once the Eclipse reached totality, and the desired shots were taken, I recognized some of the others gathered about. Not wanting to carry the entire setup, I detached my camera and laid the tripod on the ground, out of the way. Less than three minutes later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a child lift the tripod back onto the path. Their family had been sitting in camping chairs a few feet away while I’d set up and taken my shots. I excused myself and rushed back. Before my eyes, the tripod disassembled and the child ended up holding a detached leg away from the rest of the body. They stared up at me in horror. I stared back, equally disturbed.
“I didn’t do it.”
“It’s ok, it’s ok. Can I have my tripod back, please?”
They politely handed it back. I snapped the leg back into place and resumed with astrophotography activities, taking extra care to avoid a tumble. This situation was embarrassing, but I’m glad that the tripod didn’t disassemble while my camera was perched atop.
That could have been the end of the story… but it wasn’t.
“Lucky for you, they ensure those things now,” I overheard the child’s parent say “when I was your age, my dad would have had to pay out of pocket for the damages.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong.”
And until they left, they continued commenting in a way that left me feeling like I should have done more about what happened.
Why? I wasn’t upset at the child. In fact, I was glad they’d made me aware that an entire leg could completely detach itself! But with the parents; I felt some resentment. My favorite tripod, which I’d purchased as a high schooler for less than $100 was not insured. It was not ok for them to assume and tell their child that they weren’t wrong to grab it even though they hadn’t asked for permission. I later overheard both parents mention they’d forgotten their tripod and were hoping to borrow someone else’s.
And although I didn’t react or scold, my bewilderment reached it’s peak for the night when another adult, grabbed my camera while I was right there, inbetween shots! Nope, that was not ok either. Consent is needed for touching peoples belongings too, lol.
Things Parents Could Do Differently
- If a child expresses interest, they can discuss the interest or ask the professional for more information.
- All children, even young ones, should be thought to respect equipment that does not belong to them.
- Parents should encourage children to ask for permission if they want to do something hands on.
Things I Could Do Differently
- Plan ahead.
- Double check faults in equipment well in advance of the project.
- Choose an unpopular location when trying to photograph the night sky.
- Verbally let others know it’s not ok to touch the equipment if they get to close.
Hope you all had a chance to appreciate last night’s night sky phenomenon! Where you able to get some shots?