How do I keep my naturally ahem calm and focused demeanour? I have learned to take the shortest, fastest and sometimes unorthodox path between two points. Force me on the road more travelled and I may become … well … a little less calm.
I assure you the problem lies not with me – just the obstacles and detours that make me lose focus. Clearly others share this perspective otherwise I would have never heard the expression about when you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s easy to forget your initial objective of draining the swamp. Though I suppose in that case it might serve you right for wrecking a natural habitat. But I digress.
Driving down a country road last week, I visualized a dream shot potentially within my grasp. The setting sun was dusting a reddish hue over the sky with a big, fat, juicy moon near the horizon. That’s when I noticed the sandhill cranes in the field beside me. What if I could get a flight shot with the moon in the background? Wow.
When my daydreaming ended, I realized I was past the cranes and quickly made a U-turn – the fastest route. I should note there are special rules for photographers in extenuating circumstances such as these. You can look it up!
When I got close to the cranes, I turned off to park on a dirt approach that declined quickly into a field. As soon as I was off the main road, I realized my truck was sliding in gooshey mud. I quickly tried to turn back on the road but to no avail! I slammed the truck in four-wheel drive and succeeded only in scattering more mud. It’s surprising what forms these pesky alligators can take. In that moment, my initial objective was nowhere to be found.
Much to my surprise, I somehow managed to manouver out of the muck. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and wondered what was I doing there. Oh yes. I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the truck.
I moved into position just as a swoop of sandhill cranes lifted off the stubble field. I excitedly pressed the shutter and … nothing. My camera was completely lifeless despite charged batteries. There was nothing to do but watch my dream shots fly into the sunset. I packed up and headed home disappointed. I figured out later the battery pack had worked its way loose. Add another item to the list of 435 things that can go wrong with a shot.
A few miles down the road, I noticed some small clouds streaking across that still good-looking moon. I decided to stop for a consolation moon shot.
Just then I noticed a line of tiny sandhill cranes flying in front of the moon. I jumped out of the truck, braced my long lens against the truck frame and captured the image above. Now that was much better – quick and clean. And the photo seemed to look OK in the viewfinder.
I returned home calm, relaxed and smiling. This time the alligators didn’t win!