Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Perspective. Sometimes You Get Dirty. Sometimes You Get Wet.

A few weeks ago we touched on perspective and the incredibly important role it plays in you capturing interesting photos. This week, another case in point.

I've mentioned before that my wife and I like to spend time in the Door County Peninsula in the summer months. There is never a shortage of photography opportunities and this past week we finally were able to make the trip.

One of my favorite photography subjects in Door County is Cana Island Lighthouse. It's nearby to where we stay and there's just something about it that continues to draw me in. The lighthouse faces east into Lake Michigan and last summer I was fortunate to capture some beautiful sunrise and pre-dawn shots featuring the lighthouse.

This year I wanted to try something different - a sunset shot. If the lighthouse is on an island and faces east, how do you capture it with the sunset? Well, you roll up your pant legs and get wet of course!
I've been thinking about this one for a while (all winter in fact) and if I'm being honest it had me a little nervous. Digital camera equipment, a generally "clumsy" disposition, and open water aren't things you usually want to mix. Just because something is risky, doesn't mean it has to be dangerous, however. Here's my checklist for capturing the shots that follow:
  1. Personal Articles insurance policy covers replacement cost of camera equipment… even if I do something as stupid as drop it into Lake Michigan. Check.
  2. One gallon Zip Lock freezer bag for camera (an actual dry bag would be better, but it worked in a pinch). Check.
  3. Tripod and wireless remote. Check.
  4. Low tide, partly cloudy sky (no spectacular sunsets without clouds) and relatively calm water. Check (thank you Mother Nature).
  5. Photography Buddy with 911 on speed dial. Check.
  6. Water wings. Check. ;-)
I hadn't ventured off the island to know what the conditions would be like so I made a "dry" run before transporting the camera gear. I was prepared to tether the Igloo cooler to me to store my gear in for the short trip, but I was delightfully surprised to find that the eastern shore of Cana Island is a giant rock slab. Nearly 75 yards off shore and I was still only knee deep in water. Throwing caution to the wind, I opted to leave the cooler on shore, sealed the camera up in an air-tight bag and carried it in one hand and the tripod in the other using it as a means to maintain my balance on the occasional slippery rocks. With plenty of time to spare, I was setup and ready for the magic to happen. For nearly two hours I shot, recomposed, and shot some more. The only downside was that the lighthouse lamp didn't kick on until almost 9pm leaving me with an opportunity for only a few dozen "action" shots before the we lost the light and it was time to head back to shore.

The moral of the story? Not only do you sometimes need to get dirty to get great shots, but sometimes you may need to get wet too. Don't be afraid. Plan accordingly, be safe and have fun. The rest will follow.
Until next time, keep click'n.


Lisadawn Schram said...

This is your best article yet. Kept me wanting to read more. I really liked the checklist!

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