Today I ventured forth into the great outdoors to engage in photography with my lovely new kit. There is a public park not far from where I live that has much in the way of woods, a few small waterfalls and a wide (but very shallow) river. I concede that an overcast and gray day, in the winter, with snow in abundance might not sound like the best time to snap a few pictures. After all, there is little color or contrast to be found, but I knew I needed to get out of the house (with my chores already accomplished) and starting taking pictures of something OTHER than the pets in the house.
My original intent was to head to one waterfall in particular where I thought I might be able to obtain some nice pictures of the falls and stream. As the walkway isn’t exactly close to the falls I thought this would provide a good opportunity to finally break out the 70-200mm f/4 L USM IS lens, which I otherwise hadn’t yet made use.
I arrived at the parking area closest to the falls and found a family in a nearby field snapping away with their cameras. I spoke briefly with the husband (who was using his very recently purchased Canon Rebel) and found they were taking pictures of the lovely red cardinals that were flittering from barren tree to barren tree. I thought this sounded like a great opportunity: this was a great use for the 70-200mm AND the bright red male cardinals would really POP against the dull grays of the trees and the stark white of the snow. I took a number of pictures and really hope that some of them are useful. I think I was still to far away, even with the 70-200mm, but maybe something good will show up. Of course, this post is about suffering and being stupid so let’s have some of that right now!
Yesterday (also known as Saturday) I took my camera to the golf course that lies behind my neighbor’s house across the street from where I live. I thought I might find some nice pictures to be taken there and on the whole I was disappointed. Regardless, I was taking some pictures at a slow shutter speed so in an attempt to mitigate any camera shake (even though the camera was tripod-mounted – those things do shake a bit when you let go of your camera!) I turned on the 2-second timer hoping this would be sufficient time for the camera to stop shaking. Clever thought I. However, I left this setting on when I finished as these were the last photos I took yesterday. Today (better known as Sunday) I had my camera out, my lens attached and was pointing at cardinals, depressing the shutter release half-way to focus and then completing the process by pressing all the way.
Nothing happened. Well, that’s not true. The camera would go “beep, beep, beep….” for about two seconds and then it would take the picture. I knew this wasn’t right, but thought maybe the lens was having some sort of problem focusing. It wasn’t until I had taken maybe six pictures that I finally took a quick look at the camera’s top display and there I saw the 2-second timer function indicated. What a shit-head. I shouldn’t be allowed to have a camera, much less my lovely, lovely 40D.
Well I finished with my friends the birds and made my way over towards the falls. There I found the steps leading up to the top of the falls to be covered in a thick layer of very slippery ice. Nope. Sorry. I’m not interested in falling and breaking my brand new camera, even though I don’t deserve it anyway because I’m stupid. So I return to a part of the stream where there is some action, if you will, with the water splashing over rocks and tumbling through clogs of leaves fallen during last autumn. I shot a small handful of pictures, but was ultimately disappointed as nothing lept out as being particularly ‘arty’, which is for what I was striving today. Discouraged I packed up my gear and trudged back to the car, crunching through the snow with its protective sheet of ice.
As I drove by the falls in my car I could just make out that a large sheet of ice had cascaded over the falls and was creating a great effect. And I didn’t get a single picture of it. I suck. As I continued my drive out of the park I felt more and more stupid for not doing SOMETHING to get the pictures. And then it hit me…..ford the stream! I don’t think it’s really deep at all and it’s mostly clear of ice and snow and I’m wearing waterproof winter boots. Reinvigorated with the notion that I COULD do this I drove back into the park, parked the car and grabbed only the gear I would need: my camera, the tripod and my 17-85mm USM IS lens (I took everything else out of the kit thinking that if I slipped and fell into the water I would mitigate the amount of damage by only hurting the few things I needed). I walked back to where the stream passes under the road and made my descent into the stream.
While the stream moves quickly it is, as I thought, very shallow; only inches in most parts and only deep where water cascades quickly over a rock. While the distance to the first good vantage point was only 100-yards, it was slow going as the rocks were slippery with algae and sometimes ice. There were also fallen trees and other sticky bush-like things that would reach out from shore and snag my shirt or camera bag. It took me almost 15-minutes to get to the first place and another five to my second. But what a manly sight I must have made making my way upstream in my water proof boots, short pants (yes, short pants in 28-degree weather – I’m not right in the head), long-sleeve shirt, hat, gloves and camera equipment. Ansel Adams of Ohio, that’s me!
Feeling emboldened by the success of my fording the stream both up and down stream I opted to venture up the slippery stairs of death to the scenic overlook for the falls. Managing this major feat also yielded what I hope will be some nice pictures. Of course, I won’t get to looking through those until tomorrow or Tuesday. And now I have to contend with RAW images as for the first time ever I shoot in the combined JPEG/RAW option.
Joy and happiness all round, eh?