Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Would I Do Stupid Things For A Photo?

Memories of photographic stupidity over the years.

On an old post, Elaine from Fairbanks, AK (See, 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.

NikonSniper Steve


Pat said...

LOL! It all comes with the job! Oh, wait, do you actually get PAID for this photos? I could just see you sliding down the hill.

So many times I see great scenes out of the truck and I say to my husband, "Stop! I'd like to take a picture of that!" Unfortunately, we're hauling our trailer most of the time, and by the time we stop, the photo op is long gone! LOL!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

well, now I need to know two things:
1) where are the pictures?
2) how did you get back?

actually three.

3) did someone see your car and call for help?

Valerie 007 said...

I do believe you could do stand up-very funny-I'm glad you can laugh at yourself, its a good character trait. Glad your wife saved your butt!

Heckles said...

Oh my! Funny, but so scary! And WAS the angle better down there after all?
Your pictures are awesome. Do you have any of these in book form? I'd love a coffee table book full of your work.

Stephen Baird said...

I am working on a format to release prints. It won't be crazy expensive. Big bucks is not my reason to live ... but I only want high quality productions. No cheesey 8x10s ... I would just rather produce photographic art pieces. Again, not crazy expensive but I will have more info on this in days ahead. I am looking into this with people from Uppercase Living.
All the best to you.
NikonSniper Steve

Stephen Baird said...

Thank you. But credit should go to my beloved Mother. She dropped me often when I was a baby.
NikonSniper Steve

Stephen Baird said...

No, I am not paid for photography. I have a great job working for a great company in the printing industry. I keep getting challenged to venture into photography deeper as a hobby. I love it and it is good for me in so many ways. Like just stopping to listen and see a wren ripping off a spring chorus. Photography makes me feel alive.
Oh, yeah, and ... my wife, youngest daughter and I will be in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta on some of the same days as you. And, yes, it would be cool to say hello!
NikonSniper Steve

@eloh said...

Alright Steve, I have two things here.

1. God protects fools and you happen to drink? if not...well you know where that leaves you.

2. Here's how you make your million....all suba divers have a plate attached to their if you find an abandoned vehicle...look in the water..
Soooo...make a sign for the vehicles of photographers so when an abandoned vehicle is found the hiway patrol can look over the cliff for that just right angle.
Sell the idea to your company, and be sure to get one for yourself.

Cheryl /Ashton said...

Well alrighty then, I would say your "adventure" would be one to remember for many years....I have sometimes pushed the limits to get a photo and after reading of your adventure, I think I will try to be alot more cautious!

Sunny said...

Sorry to laugh but LOL! I expect all of us that are after the 'perfect' shot have had some 'interesting' experiences! Luckily you didn't break anything, especially your camera!
Nothing to compare with your adventure but just this week I got zapped by an electric fence and chased by a goose!
Sunny :)

Stephen Baird said...

sounds like you have a good post in the making there.
nikonsniper steve

Don and Krise said...

Steve, As I read this I really wanted to bust out laughing several times, but I felt I didn't dare. About the time I start chuckling at your misfortune it'll be my turn. Great stories though and thanks for what you do go through. My wife and I thoroughly enjoy your photos.

Elaine said...

Too, too funny! With all respect for your pain, I had to pick myself up off the floor I was laughing so hard.

I really had to think about the logistics of your polar bear shot and if you could have been involved in the Anchorage incident, but the tourist with the camera was from Australia and a woman, and the teenagers were drunk but they had no camera--so I knew it wasn't you.

While I have had a few minor incidents, I realize now I don't have what it takes to become a true photographer. I have only this to say, your wife has my deepest sympathy and respect!

Jai Joshi said...

None of that sounded dangerous to me.



Ekanthapadhikan said...

Lol! I can relate very well with what you say. Being interested in Photography I've done my share of stupid things to get a good shot. I've never done anything as dangerous as you have. But stupid things... Yes, I've done that. The other day I was crawling on the highway to get a pic. of a little bird which sat over the rails. Eventually the bird just flew away leaving me dumb found and with a row of motorists stalled on the road 'coz I was lying across their path. Needless to say, the cops arrived and I had a tough time trying to explain what I was trying to do!

Dawn said...

Wow, your writing is as good as your photos. I'm impressed. I could just feel the ground slipping from under my feet.

Valerie said...

Ye Gods, I was on tenterhooks reading this post ... in between laughing, that is. However, I do appreciate the things you go through for the sake of showing us your brilliant pictures. Smiles

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Isn't Washington State beautiful? Would like to see your photos of the rivers. Was this possibly in Northeast Washington?

Your writing/story telling is wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Love your photography

Sylvia said...

I must say... Thank you. How would we know such beauty if you didn't take those risks? Of course, dear Stephen, take care. I can understand that feeling of being so attracted by a landscape or a project that we forget everything around. That's what makes a good professional, though!

Bert said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. Your writings are as good as your pixs.

Lucy said...

You do not see me in here often but I see all of your photos ans I knew from family that are PHOTOGRAPHY GEEKS that they will do most anything for a good picture, however you do come up with some great shots. Just one thing, DO YOU HAVE TO GO TO THOSE EXTREMES??? Would like to keep you able to be mobile and continue to post beautiful pictures.

kbear said...

LOL..the things we do for a photo!

Joanna Jenkins said...

That was a great post! It gave me so much more insight into your photographs.

And I'm SHOCKED, by the way, that you are not a professional photographer! I thought you were. You have such a great eye!

More please.

PurestGreen said...

I once climbed onto a bench to try to get a shot at a girl's basketball practice. You know - aiming for a different angle. The bench flipped forward and I want crashing. Hurt my back really badly and had the most remarkable bruise ever. I didn't really care about my pride; I was too happy that I hadn't damaged the camera. Glad you made it out of there unscathed!

imac said...

Yup, it must be a photographers thing to do daft things, Ive been in some scrapes

Stephen Baird said...

Folks, thank for your compliments ... many of you thought I was professional. Many of your photos are of professional quality. To me professional is a level of quality ... not just a profession. Let me explain. I know tons of photographers who are paid to photograph. Some of them have done disasterous work for members of my family. They were paid.
Some of those disasters were saved by people who knew their cameras well, took professional quality ... but were not paid. Why? Because they were quite accomplished in other professions as well. Photography was their love and passion. They saved the day and did for joy alone! Who was the professional? I tell you this because many of you are professionals and all of you have taken some with professional quality. So, please don't be disappointed that my career is not photography. Let me assure ... she's my mistress and that's even better.
NikonSniper Steve

Anonymous said...

I think you have two mistresses. Writing is your other one. What a great job! You had me at "Would I Do Stupid Things for a Photo(duh...'yes, I have to admit it...!!)and I hung on ever word (as I assume you were hanging onto any and every rock and stone on your tumble down that mountain.) Thankfully you weren't hurt...and I did have to laugh at the 'protective moed' you went into with your camera (like Moms do when they suddently put on brakes in the car and instinctively reach out to protect the child beside her..EXCEPT, there is no child....the 'child' is grown and married...and has been for years!...sigh...that protection mode is me.)
Your writing is incredible....and like others, I assumed you were a professional photographer. I still consider you light of what I see in your work. Thank you for sharing it. Continued success to you....and watch out for things that go bump in the night (or day) you take your camera out to capture some fantastic shots for you.....and for us.
Smiles to you from Jackie

Stephen Baird said...

good analogy to moms reaching to protect children! that's really a mom thing! i only did that when my kids were little and in the car. so you really are a mom! congratulations for being that caring to this day.
i can say that i had a dream about shooting pictures and set my camera down and i was jolted awake while trying grab my camera from falling off a ladder. how whacko is that? i own no tv's ... i spend all my technology dollars on camera equipment so i guess after a house and a car it's my most significant possession, even though i own a ford.
nikonsniper steve

Stephen Baird said...

Bless your heart. You asked if I had to go to these extremes. Again, bless your heart!
Well, Yes I think I do as I am a product of the Texas school system. My nine formitive years in grades 3-5 made me what I am today. Stubborn and bullheaded. You see I am still like a high school student at 51, only with credit cards and a mortgage. Taking risks is a bit like feeling that old (andrenulun, Texas Spelling used) flowing through my body. When I was running from those wolves I did feel they were catching up with me a little quicker.
Remember dear old Dad? He ended up being dinner for wolves! Now that's memorable! People will tell that story for centuries!
NikonSniper Steve ... soon to be doing something stupid near you!

Stephen Baird said...

Thanks Elaine.
I do refer to my dearest as my wife ... but she is often more like my zoo keeper.
NikonSniper Steve

Stephen Baird said...

Dawn ... I think you live in California? That means the ground could be slipping when you are reading, doesn't it?
NikonSniper Steve

Stephen Baird said...

Thanks Valerie!
I road the short bus to school so doing (not so smart) things is my long suit! In fact, I would happy to jump off a cliff for you if the photos are good on the way down!
NikonSniper Steve

Stephen Baird said...

Don & Krise,
Thank always for your kind words! I live to make you laugh ... I am thinking of capturing some digital photos while ridding a Brahma Bull in the Mesquite Texas rodeo. I bet those clowns look cool when you are circling left at 30 mph.
NikonSniper Steve

Valerie said...

Stephen, I endorse every word you wrote about professionalism. Being paid for work proves not a thing. It's the same with writing. Talent doesn't always have to be put on a business basis. Someone said to me that a writer can't be classed as an author until the work has been published.... the same applies to photographs.... and what rubbish it is. Take your excellent photographs as a case in point. Your love-affair with the camera is a joy to behold.

Eve said...

We have a lot in common Stephen...including A-D-D and brain damage...however I will never fall off a cliff (see today's post if you have time) and I will never lose my car...I hope!! I hope I hope!!! Not even for a few minutes...but I'll let you slide on that one...rolling down the mountain is a pretty good excuse.
Great stoy...however you might need a leash!!!!

Tootie said...

Wow, that was quite a story! Kind of like getting caught between a rock and a hard place. I'm glad it had a happy ending.

Rose Marie Raccioppi said...

GREAT Read - GREAT Encounters! I applaud your passion and your needing to "get" the shot you want. That energy, that spirit is felt in all you present. Thanks for who you are and all the beauty and glory you make available to us! BRAVO to the passionate risk taker!

mrpilles said...

Man, I love your sense of humor. It raaly meshes with mine. How do yoo get so many readers?

This is my blog. I would appreciate a link and Ill do the same for you.
Even though I'm a photographer, I haven't posted much of that, mostly thoughts, for the moment, but a lot of those thoughts are about photography.

mrpilles said...

That red barn in your collection coulld have been the one I have been drawing for about fifteen years. I like to do pen and ink sketches of broken down barns because the open spaces go black and make nice designs.

Elaine said...

I am still laughing at the picture in my mind of you sliding down that bank!

Flutterby said...

I laughed and shared a link on my blog to yours. I also forwarded your link to a writer friend that enjoys a good laugh. I am glad you survived along with your camera. The way you tell your story is delightful.

Judy said...

Howling!! My sister shared this with me, last year, and I laughed then, too! Thanks for the needed and much appreciated mirth!

Pieces of Sunshine said...

I had a few chuckles as I read your antics. You could write good children's books!

Vivian said...

Ouch! Guess you can say...a true photographer must endure some pain to gain a few good shots!

And yes, I are also a good writer.