Doesn't everybody put the lens with the aperture lever to the right?

Actually, this is something that surprises almost every workshop student. A second, really useful trick is to figure out how far you've stopped the lens down--that is, see if you get to f/32 when the aperture lever is one finger-width from the shutter cocking lever. Once you find the landmark, you can stop down to f/32 (or f/45 or whatever) to see if depth of field is adequate, all without coming out from under the focusing hood.