Tuesday, November 9, 2021

If you're in the U.S., did you reset your clocks to standard time, but forgot to reset your camera's clock?

Clock in Musee d'Orsay in Paris, France

If your location in the U.S. changed from Daylight Time to Standard Time this past Sunday, you need to remember to change the clock in your cameras too. If you didn't remember, you can change it today.

To change your camera's clock to Standard Time, set it back one hour, or if it has a Daylight Time adjustment, turn it off.

On Sunday, November 7, 2021, most, but not all of the U.S. switched from Daylight Time to Standard Time. Some parts of the U.S., including Arizona, except for the Navajo Nation within the state, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands never switch to Daylight Time. They stick to Standard Time throughout the year.

The switch between Daylight and Standard time isn't universal among nations across the globe. More than 100 countries never change to Daylight Time and of the countries that make the switch, many do it on different dates than the U.S.

Travelers in Mexico are often confused by the back and forth disposition of the swap between Daylight and Standard time there. That's because Mexican border cities near the U.S. generally keep their clocks synchronized with the U.S. to reduce confusion, but if you travel further into Mexico, you quickly find that most of Mexico resets their clocks in April and October, not March and November, as is done in the U.S.

The time of day in the U.S. could become more disparate in the future.

Maine has already approved moving to Atlantic Standard Time (the equivalent of Eastern Daylight Time) throughout the year if both Massachusetts and New Hampshire make the change too. In 2017, a special commission in Massachusetts recommended the change for its state, but only if Maine and New Hampshire also changed. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire state house passed a bill to make the change in a 250–117 vote, but so far the New Hampshire state senate hasn't concurred. In Connecticut, the government there is also considering the change, but they want New York to change with them. It's more than unlikely that New York will consider moving its time zone to Atlantic time.

Map of the United States of America (2021)

If you look at a U.S. map (above), focus on New England, the states starting with Connecticut and Rhode Island, moving north. It's easy to see why they're considering the change to Atlantic Time. The New England states are considerably east of the rest of the U.S. east coast. In addition, like all the states in the Eastern time zone, the New England states are essentially observing Atlantic Standard Time eight months of the year, from March to November.

Maine, in particular, is east of the rest of the U.S. It's major cities are more than a hundred miles east of the closest major Eastern Time Zone cities, outside of New England. For example, Portland, Maine is more than 120 miles east of New York. Bangor, Maine is more than 200 miles east of Philadelphia. Even in Massachusetts, Boston is more than 110 miles east of New York.

If you're wondering why the New England states haven't adopted year-round Eastern Daylight Time, it's because Federal law precludes the choice. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 currently governs time in the U.S. The law permits states to opt out of Daylight Time, but not Standard Time. Congress must approve any state's change to use Daylight Time throughout the year. Nineteen states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wyoming) have either enacted legislation or passed resolutions to change to Daylight Time throughout the year.

Russia, Canada, the U.S. and China are the four largest countries in the world, in total land area. Somehow Russia manages eleven contiguous time zones within their borders, however, much of Russia has fewer than 6 inhabitants per square mile. Due to the legacy of Mao Zedong, while China is almost as wide as the continental U.S., China has only one time zone. Most people think of the U.S. having four time zones. That's true of the continental U.S., however, when you include Alaska and Hawaii there are six time zones, from Eastern Time to Hawaii Time. If you add the U.S. territories, from Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to the east and Howland and Baker Islands to the west, the U.S. has eleven time zones.

While there is potential for future time changes, for now in the U.S., we can stick to what most of us have been doing in the nation since 2007, setting our clocks forward one hour on the second Sunday in March, and back one hour on the first Sunday in November.

Many ask if it matters that one's camera is set to the correct time of day. For me, it matters.

There are several reasons it's important to have my camera set to the correct date and time.

1. I “geotag,” embed the longitude and latitude of where I was when making my images in each image. For my work, I embed detailed descriptions and locations in the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) data for each image. I can't just put down, “Paris” or “New York City” or “Philadelphia.” As a photojournalist, all of my images, including travel images, have their details embedded in the image using IPTC standards for publication.

But more to the point for everyone, I'll admit as a pro travel photographer, that sometimes my image notes aren't quite complete, particularly when I'm making several thousand images in a day. We all goof at times, and when reviewing images some time after making them, every once in a while, I'm not exactly sure where a particular image was made. Almost every time, the embedded GPS data in each of my images will rescue me. That data will allow me to pinpoint where I stood and in which direction I was pointing when making the image. I plot the image on Google Earth and other mapping software to reveal where I was and what I was photographing.

When I spent a number of weeks shooting in Morocco, for example, there were several times I was able to capture some wonderful images when we stopped in the middle of nowhere while traveling to our next destination. There were no signs or descriptions anywhere to be seen, however, via the images' embedded GPS information, I was able to pinpoint where each image was made and with a bit of research, get information about the scenes photographed.

Having the precise time in my camera facilitates geotagging accuracy, especially if I have to use my GPS data file backup which requires date/time synchronization.

Please note that if the GPS unit you use is built-in to your camera, it's likely critical that your camera's clock be properly set to ensure your GPS positioning data is accurate.

2. Speaking of notes, keeping a “written” record of your shooting can be very helpful later on. A friend I know uses written records and he “time stamps” each record. My notes are generally voice recordings. I dictate notes into my iPhone about the shoot as I go along. At times if I'm with a guide, I'll record the guide. Sometimes I also record written information which I type into my iPhone while shooting. All the notes are “time stamped.” By having my images correctly “time stamped” it becomes easy to associate each note to the appropriate images.

3. I periodically use more than one camera during a shoot for a variety of reasons. For example, it enables me to quickly move from a wide angle lens on one camera body, to a telephoto lens on another body, without taking the time to swap lenses and miss an important shot. Also, there are times when I'm in a difficult environment, such as in a desert with blowing sands, where swapping lenses isn't a viable option.

When using more than one camera, it's extremely useful to know the order of the images made. You can't do that unless each camera has the right date/time, so you can refer to the EXIF date/time data in each image to determine the image order.

4. I periodically self-assess and critically review my images. It's very helpful to have the time of day accurately saved in the images when evaluating them. You can better revisit your thought process during the review if the correct date/times are embedded in the images.

So, if keeping accurate time in your camera is important to you, and somehow you forgot to reset your camera's clock last Sunday, it's time to do it now.

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