A little less lazy…

Not to take anything away from Scott Bourne’s post last week on TWIP (“Are You A Lazy Photographer?”, August 20, 2008), I already had plans to get up early yesterday morning to get on the water and shoot some photographs.  Rumor has it that there is are a lot of Blue Herons on Beaver Creek and I thought I’d go see what I could see and photograph and may be get some decent early-morning shots of whatever was around.

The day started at 4:45am and I put the canoe in the water at 6:00am.  I wasn’t familiar with the stretch of creek I was going to be paddling on, so I didn’t know if I would be able to get any sunrise shots or not (as it turned out, I could not due to the fairly heavy cypress canopy and other trees along the creek).  I took my Olympus Stylus 790 SW (waterproof and shockproof) as well as the DSLR (Canon Rebel XT) (neither waterproof nor shockproof) on the trip.  This was the first time I had taken my DSLR out on the water in the canoe.  Needless to say, I was nervous every time I took the camera out of the bag (waterproof) that I was carrying it in.  Despite the fears of my camera somehow taking a swim, I got a few shots with it.

I didn’t find any herons and the ducks that were on the creek were too easily spooked for me to get any decent shots.  I heard a deer that was bedding down on an island in the creek.  Actually, when the deer broke cover and started splashing about, it nearly scared me into tipping the boat!  I caught a glipse of her raised tail a few moments later as I rounded the next bend and the sound of my paddling disturbed her again.

There were a few lessons I learned on this trip and I’ll share them with you in the hopes that when you make an outing into the woods and onto the water you’ll be better prepared than I was.

First:  Check, double-check, and triple-check your gear before you leave.  The first reason for this is so you don’t forget something important.  The second reason is just as important–to make sure everything is in working order.  You don’t want to be away from home or your base of operations and find out that you forgot to bring charged batteries.  This applies not only to your photography gear but also to your outdoor gear…

Second:  DEET! No that is not a sound effect, it’s a very effective insect repellent.  I had some with me for this trip.  Unfortunately for me (and fortunate for a bunch of hungry mosquitos), the spray top was inoperable making the can and its contents completely useless for me.  As a result, I’m now suffering 22 mosquito bites on the outside of my left elbow and 13 on the outside of my right elbow.  (I know those numbers because I’ve been constantly applying hydrocortisone to them to try to stop the itching–arms, legs, and face are also bitten, but my elbows itch like they’ve been the subject of some gypsy’s curse.)

Third:  Know your gear’s abilities and limitations and plan accordingly. OK, I’ll admit that I’ve been rather envious of Nikon when I hear about the high-ISO capabilities the new models have.  While I realize that the model I own would not have that great of low-light performance, I still was not prepared for the results I got.  In real-world terms, I didn’t have enough light for a lot of the shots I attempted during the first half of the trip.  As a Canon shooter, I’m just waiting patiently to see what Canon will announce at or around Photokina next month.  Here’s to hoping they meet the Nikon challenge of better noise control at higher ISOs.

Fourth:  Don’t forget to have fun! This isn’t something that I failed at on this trip.  I had loads of fun out on the water and taking photographs.  Just keep in mind that unless you are a professional photographer, “fun” should be one of the biggest reasons you drag all that gear around.  Don’t lose sight of that fact and keep enjoying your photography!

If you enjoyed reading this blog entry, please consider reading others I’ve written.  Additionally, take time to explore the links I’ve posted to the right.  Thanks!  ~DBJ

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