Odyssey of a distracted photographer

I’m pretty sure that many of you know the dilemma: going for a walk in company with or without your photo camera. If you leave it at home you don’t stress your  friends with “wait a minute”, “let me have a closer look”, “hold on a second”, “would you mind if…”. At the same time, however,  it is very likely that if the camera isn’t with you,  the shot of your life is waiting around the corner! Fortunately I have a very nice friend who loves to be photographed and we  have a mutual, non-verbalized agreement. She lets me take all the pictures  I want in exchange for  a fair amount of photos of her. More than acceptable!

I had just spent one thousand five hundred euros (nearly two thousand dollars) for a new lens and  was impatient to see how it worked. So, in honor of  my purchase,  last week-end we decided to leave our usual tracks and go for something new.  At a certain point, the pathway ended in  the middle of nothing and as we did not want to go back, we forwarded in the nearby brooklet  bed.  It was exciting because close to the water we saw things we had never thought to find…shy white snowdrops  with hanging heads,  strange, dark brown, terrace-formed mushrooms glued to tree trunks, wild orchids, even an amazingly beautiful black/yellow fire salamander, there in the water, enjoying its freshness and not caring about us at all. By now grey clouds had covered the sky and the underwood absorbed just about all the light. After having made a fair quantity of photos we went back home but I had a feeling that the bad light and the new lens had not made a perfect job.

Exactly this happened and only a couple of shots were nice. It was a little, but not too much frustrating: I would go back to the place and make some decent photos. What happened then is an authentic nightmare.

1. Went back to the place with a more appropriate lens. Snowdrops, orchids and mushrooms where still there, the fire salamander obviously  not.  On my return home I had a careful look at the images through a big monitor revealing that tiny, light brown insects had been walking over the snowdrops which made them look ugly.

2. Meanwhile I had read an article from a famous professional photographer who had underlined the importance of using a tripod.  I own one but basically never use it, did however understand the message and decided to return to the brooklet bed  equipped by the right lens,  nice weather, positive thinking  – and  the tripod.

3. After having  drowned the ugly parasites on the delicate white flower bells and stalks with water, I was  ready to take one of the best snowdrop picture  the world has ever seen! It was late afternoon and the sun was preparing to go down. The sparking light was stunning! I shot and shot and shot, the atmosphere was incredible and I was fulfilled with gratitude for the great gift nature had offered me so generously.  Then something terrible happened. Right before  I was ready for  my very last image I realized that I had not turned the stabilizers off before fixing the photo camera onto the tripod. I was more than sure that  the images would all have had the  “stabilizers on while the camera was fixed on tripod” effect.

4.  At that point I was just about to give up. The initial snowdrop photos would have looked fine on the small blog about spring. But the point is that “I” knew that they were not. That’s why I returned to the small brooklet. Again. With me was my camera, different lenses, a tripod, concentration and a lot of good will.  The result was definitely what I was expecting from the new lens.

What did I learn from this story? Check your equipment, check your equipment and check your equipment again.  I know! But I knew it before, too…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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