Memories of photographic stupidity over the years.
On an old post, Elaine from Fairbanks, AK (See http://akelaine.blogspot.com/), made this comment to me. "Of course, you would never climb over any fences in your pursuit of the perfect photo!"
I do know Elaine said this in jest because most photographers take some small risks ... even if they don't realize it. BUT, I actually think I have done some of the stupidest things possible to get photos. Many of those things were actually unintentional ... which I believe to be proof positive that there has been a half-dozen angels assigned to watch my footsteps.
Several years ago, I was on a trip north of Jackson Hole and nearly got mauled by Buffalo, Moose and a pack of Wolves all in a 24 hour period. My wife saved my life several times that day by alerting me to the errors of my ways. I would get back to the safety of the rental car, out of breath from the run from something large only to speed away gasping ... "Wow, that was stupid-er than my last stupid-er risk."
The State Trooper (kind gentleman) said "Sir, you can't go into the buffalo field. Thems ain't cows out there." Who knew? Pardon my st-st-st-stupidness officer ... but I am from the Obama State which, I later learned, means there is an additional tax on my citations.
Elaine's comment stuck with me about going over fences to get photos. Last June while traveling in the State of Washington, I was totally ga-ga for the beautiful views of the wild running blue-green rivers with their forest backdrops. I drive cars with my head on a swivel looking for the perfect photo and I have a very bad habit of pulling over with little to no warning ... usually with a horn blowing sound from behind me. Uh, If that was you ... I'm sorry, I know I'm a @%$# jerk (I heard you) but somebody has to get these photos.
There I was on the side of a mountain overlooking a beautiful river and I absolutely had to stop. I parked the car (left it running) and jumped out and started to take the photos. As I was running through 30-40 shots I began to feel that perhaps a better shot was just a bit down the side of the mountain where there was a better clearing of trees. So, I reasoned that if I just stepped over the guard rail I could negotiate dropping down another 10 feet for that shot by grabbing and hanging on from one small tree stump to the next.
Now, if you knew me, you would know that I am not exactly knowledgeable of the ballet steps required to make such an artistic maneuver. But, again, if you knew me, you would also know that I suffered brain damage while running into a football goal post about 30 years ago ... so, this eliminates my ability to assess whether or not I am able to pull off a stunt like this until I am actually in peril from attempting said stunt. Does that make sense?
SO THERE I WAS ... having a great day, when I bravely stuck my first leg over the guard rail. Now, while resting my 50 year old BUTTOCK on top of the guard rail I threw my second leg over and began to negotiate a rather step angle not quite expected. This is where it got fun real fast. I quickly learned in about 0.2 seconds that little stones, pine cones and pine needle droppings make for a very acceptable summer toboggan surface.
Before I really could even think ... I was dropping. And dropping VERY FAST. End over end, finally slaming into larger rocks about a 20' roll down toward the river. I felt sharp pain in my left knee and was actually afraid to look in case my lower leg was another 20' further down the hill. Well, I discovered that I just hit my knee on a rock, no blood, and it was still there. (Sidenote: If you are a real photographer there won't be a scratch on your camera when you land because you used our own body to protect your camera all the way down that cliff. However, when you arrive at Motel 6 later that evening and take off your tee-shirt ... a true photographer will look like a 12 pack of teenagers on JOLT-cola were hitting you repeatedly with sticks with nails for about 10 minutes.) I have A-D-D so let's move immediately to yet another ... (Sidenote: Learning to field dress your own wounds is a priceless bonus for the wilderness wannabee photographer.)
Well, I limped and climbed back UP to the place that I wanted to drop DOWN to take the photo. I passed that spot on the way down but I wasn't quite able to get the shot I wanted while rolling end over end with my camera firmly tucked into my navel. I took the shot. It was awful. No better than from above where I was in the first place. I climbed the rest of the way back up that hill by bracing my feet on the tree stumps. I did discover that going up was easier than going down. I reached and finally grabbed the guard rail from which this Shuttle Mission began and pulled myself back up to LEVEL terra firma.
I looked over to where my car was parked and thought Ughhhh, ........ it was gone! Suddenly I became quite frantic. How am I going to explain that to AVIS? I figured someone must have drove off with the car and all my belongings. I thought I was going to have a heart attack for a second. I started walking closer to where I had left the car. Where was it? I walked another 30' and there it was. The car was right where I left it but it was hidden behind a tree with a 12'-16' diameter trunk. Boy ... was I relieved. I thought I would lose my mind if I was stranded ... and there is only a small piece of it left. I had no cell phone BUT I did have my camera and I would be able to continue shooting photos ... as I walked back to Chicago.
I got back in the car and just sat there thanking God for protecting me in my sheer stupidity. All my angels were in the back seat high-fiving and laughing their butts off as I continue to entertain them with my foolishness. I swear I could hear them gasping to breathe while laughing out the words, "Did you see that?, ... What an idiot!" They were laughing even louder when about another mile down the road there was a beautiful rest spot to get easy and way better photos than from where I had just tried to kill myself.