Sunday, August 11, 2013

About the Perils of Photography!

We don't think about it too much, but outdoor action photography sometimes lead us into the path of danger! You know how it is ... that perfect angle, with good light, is usually captured from a precarious position. And, occasionally close to, or even in, the direct line of action.

It was a big day in our area, yesterday, with several large events. There were two that I wanted to shoot.

I made it to the Loop The Lake foot race early in the day. Here's a photo of the first group of runners passing by my shooting position. Its the only image I've processed so far - for reasons that will become clear shortly.

I picked a spot where there was good light and a decent background (free of telephone poles, cables, cars, houses, etc) - but the competitors were running uphill and therefore not exactly happy to see me pointing a camera at them! Apologies for that, guys, but you have to admit, the expressions of effort really reflect the challenge that you were facing! I will get the rest of the photos up this week.

After going home to download the files and reformat my card, I headed out to the Lakeside Event where paragliders and hang gliders launch from the top of Mt Swansea, and aim to land on targets on the beach at James Chabot Park beside Lake Windermere. I wanted to shoot from the launch site for a couple of reasons: (1) Most, if not all, people taking photos would be lakeside because it takes time and physical effort to get to the launch site, and (2) I much prefer being in the fresh air and quiet of the alpine environment over the crowds, noise and chaos of a "beach" event.

Long story short, the wind was a bit variable and, while I'd chosen a shooting position well to the side of the launch line, a "perfect storm" resulted in this series of events:

Paraglider taking advantage of a good gust - you can see the windsock in the background - in theory, he should've been moving diagonally away from me to launch into the wind:

A split second later an unexpected eddy changed his trajectory:

I don't remember taking the photo above, but I do remember a teeth-jarring blow to the back of my head (his knee hitting my skull - I must've already been ducking to give him more room to jump over me, but he stumbled) then the sickening sight of my camera in mid-flight and bouncing once on the scree slope. Then I was tumbling, landing face down on the gravel. I didn't feel a thing. I know this thought went through my head:

"How am I going to explain this to the insurance company?! The camera cannot have survived that!"

It took me a few seconds to get my breath back and stand up. Meanwhile, my camera took this photo during its leap down the mountainside, eventually coming to rest 30m+ away:

One of the event vollies kindly hiked down to retrieve the camera for me. This is what it looked like:

Unbelievably, it seems to still work just fine! After dusting it off (I didn't dare separate the lens from the body - still haven't!), I took this photo with it - Max and Katja launching:

I took a few more photos, but my left shoulder and ribs were stiffening up to the point where I was having difficulty lifting the camera. So I decided discretion was the better part of valour, and hiked down for my 4x4 lift back to my car (thanks, Dave!).

So, I didn't get nearly as many photos at the Lakeside Event as I'd have liked. Next year!

I am also missing a two-day equestrian event in the valley, which I'm really bummed about. But such is life. At least I'm in one piece (I think!) and my camera is, as far as I know, still fully operational.

I'll get both the Loop The Lake and the Lakeside Event's photos up as soon as I can!

Images in Africa Wildlife Safaris & Photography workshops


  1. WOW! Glad to hear that you are not suffering any long term effects....LOVE the shot you camera "took on it's own" and here's to hoping that it's not permanently damaged. Feel better!! Don't sit so long editing that you stiffen up worse!

    1. Thanks, Nan! Am sure I'll be fine. Have to admit that I'm afraid to look at the camera more closely ... but am thinking positive! ;-)

  2. So glad you didn't go all the way down the mountain! Hope you have no long term effects. Next year bring a line and tether yourself to the mountain!

    1. Thanks, Helen! I'm thinking more a helmet than anything else - maybe a tether for my camera might be an idea, eh?! ;-)

  3. Wow! What a story. So glad you are ok and sending happy thoughts to the camera as well. Pretty cool photo it took by itself during its adventure! I hope you are staying limber and moving about lots and that nothing rears it's ugly head in the days to come!!