High School Graduation Ceremony

My daughter graduated from high school! This involved several days of joyous events with relatives and parties. It also presented me with a bit of a photography quandary.

I initially set about planning how I was going to photograph this occasion from my seat up in the audience of an arena. I have a 70-200mm f/2.8 Sigma lens that I have used for multiple school events but I didn’t think that it would have good enough reach from where I would be seated. So, I looked at what I could rent at a camera store.

A camera store in Austin has a Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens for rental. I would be able to rent this for about $80 for the day. With this lens attached to a D750 I would probably be able to get some really good photos from up in the seats. Below is a photo of the lens. It is spec’d at 14.4 in. (365 mm) in length and weighs 118.5 oz. (3360 g); a 7 and a half pound lens, longer than my forearm hanging off of my camera.


I began to stress over this quite a bit. How am I going to get it into the arena? Cameras were allowed, but no tripods, so I would have to hand-hold this by the lens at high-ISO. Also, they only allow clear bags so I would have to find a clear bag to haul this thing into the arena. I was worried that it would be difficult to get a good photo and I spent a lot of time thinking about this and how I would handle the situation.

Finally, the day before graduation came and I headed for the camera shop. They showed me the lens and let me experiment with it. The lens is huge and comes with its own backpack. It’s also very heavy and I hand-held a few photos in the camera store that turned out well enough. So, it seemed like it might work.

But then I began to get emotional. My daughter was graduating from high school and I was going to spend the entire time futzing around with a monster lens instead of watching and experiencing her graduation. I almost teared up thinking about this and I backed out. I handed the lens back and cancelled the rental. And I drove home feeling relieved by my decision.

The next morning I attended graduation, stood when my daughter walked across the stage, and lived the experience.

I then ordered the pictures of the graduation from photographers working the event and have no regrets. Below are my daughter’s graduation photos from the event that I purchased with the copyrights. It cost me about twice what renting the lens would have cost and I have no regrets, just happiness.



I really don’t know why I worried myself with this to begin with. I love having a camera and hiking around with it attempting to take nice photos, but sometimes I have to stop myself from letting it get in the way of enjoying life. I have on several occasions left the camera at home and enjoyed a school event with my own eyes and not worried about getting those photos. I am glad that I made that decision here as well.


Thanks for reading. Now I really need to get out shooting again.

14 thoughts on “High School Graduation Ceremony

  1. I’ve had some similar internal turmoil about renting lenses or gear for particular shots. So far, I’ve always stopped short of renting. It does help you think creatively about how to get the shot without all that stuff. Leaving it to the pro is hard for me, but sometimes it’s the best way. Thanks for the story, and congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t see myself purchasing one of the expensive long lenses as I am not really into bird photography. I may consider something like that for going to Yellowstone in a few weeks. Not sure I want to pack that heavy thing around.


  2. Your daughter seems very happy, and probably glad to receive your undivided attention. I understand your quandary over the camera. There have been times I’ve left my camera home while going for a hike or something. It’s always a nice relief to not have to worry about fussing with the gear, or lighting, or framing and composition. Though there can be some regrets over missing some shots.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I think that she is generally happy. I have a feeling that when she starts college she is going to be much less dependent on her father’s attention and enjoying the college life. At least I hope so. College was great fun for me and I am excited for her start her adult life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The North American Prairie Conference is taking place here now. I registered for several presentations and two field trips: one on Sunday, to a local prairie, and one yesterday, to a Nature Conservancy site and a rare plant preserve in east Texas. I made the decision to leave my camera at home on the field trips, so that I could focus on the plants being pointed out, and listen to what the guides were saying. It was the best decision I could have made.

    My situation’s a little different, since the twinge I felt at not being able to photograph rare plants, or plants I’d never seen, was tempered by my knowledge that I can return this weekend, re-find them, and take my photos. Still, there are times when life demands our full attention, and I’d say your daughter’s graduation was one. Congratulations to her!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I much more enjoy shooting photos when there is nobody else there to have to inconvenience or deal with. So, sounds like you made a good choice. Usually, when going out with the kids, I leave the camera at home because I know I will be frustrated one way or another.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Glad you had that emotional moment that helped you see that you were on the wrong road and listened to it , and it all turned out so well! Congratulations to all. And boy do I know the turmoil of wanting to take photos during an activity and I am not nearly the photographer that you are. Just carrying my camera up to Guadalupe Peak made me so nervous but it turned out to be no problem. When I am running, not hiking, I use my phone for quick shots. But I need a new phone very badly. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes, I have to remind myself to look up and enjoy the moment.

      I am considering my next hiking and camping right now. I may go out to Big Bend when the nights get moonless again and I can shoot the Milky Way, or perhaps Caprock Canyons in North Texas. I will just endure the heat, I guess. Need to get away from the city life periodically or risk losing my sanity.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, in late August.

      Kids are generally required to go to school from about age 5 to age 18. There are public schools, paid for by the governments (Federal, State, School districts). I pay a significant property tax to the local school district. Public school is generally divided into elementary schools (grades k, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), middle school (grades 6, 7, 8) and high school (grades 9, 10, 11, 12). The school year usually starts in late August and ends in late May or early June.

      She can now attend either a public university (funded partially by the state) or a private university with higher tuition. I went to a public university funded by Texas and relatively low tuition such that i mostly cash-flowed it. She is attending a small private university and is getting a lot of scholarship money, thankfully. There are also a variety of technical schools available to her, but she is going for a university degree.

      She’s 18 and kind of an adult now. We kind of have varying degrees of adulthood here. At 16 you can drive a car. At 18, you can vote, be drafted, watch adult rated movies, be charged with an adult crime, manage your own life. At 21 you can legally purchase alcohol. At 25 you can run for congress, and so on.

      She has a way to go and she has my support.

      Liked by 1 person

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