A couple miles from our house is a good size very shallow lake with weeds, reeds, and wild rice. In the fall before freeze up the ducks, geese and swans use the lake as a stop over in migrating south. This week there is a swan convention.
I spotted the big flock of birds spread out on the end of the lake with open water. Swans everywhere. I vowed to go back with a camera hoping they would get closer in the vast marsh land for a recognizable picture. I’m averse to having photos that evoke responses like “what are those white spots in your nice evening swamp picture?”
As vowed, I get to the lake as the sun is low on the horizon making the browns and blues deep in color. The swans were spread out further from the road than before. Undeterred I set up the tripod and took a few pictures from the road with white blobs in the swamp. I’ll post the best picture here.
See the high marsh grass in the bottom of the picture? I wanted to get there. I could still stay hidden and get close enough for a good picture. The woods area by the birds is too dense with brush to sneak up on them. I went around the side of the lake and headed into the grass to the waters edge.
Did I mention the lake is surrounded by springs out of the black muck? If you step in one you may sink out of sight. Theories would abound about one’s sudden disappearance. As it was the reeds at the edge were 8 feet high compared to my camera on the tripod at about four and a half. I can see the birds through the reeds but the camera will only get reeds waving around in the breeze. I go for second best as it’s the only solution I can think of that does not include knocking on a neighbors door and asking them if they have a good picture taking drone that I can borrow. See for yourself. Second best turned out okay. This time.
My second best idea came to me by knowing my camera features. I have a T3i Canon. I was able to keep the camera on the tripod fully extended and lifted it up overhead to about nine feet, holding the end of the tripod legs above my head while sinking in the mud as it’s getting dark was a unique new experience.
Before taking a picture that would work I had to do 5 things.
(1) set the camera on a 10 second timer so I had 10 seconds after pressing the shoot button to find the swan group closest to me and hopefully frame the shot as the camera went off.
(2) twist the viewfinder screen straight down so I could look straight up and see what the camera was about to shoot. My view finder flips sideways from the back of the camera and can be made to pivot in a circle (up, down, forward, back).
(3) Put the camera on the high speed setting for a 1/1600 speed shot.
(4) Put the lens on Manuel focus and pinpoint a set of swans that would be in focus. I just had to raise the camera and find the right swans which would be in focus before activating countdown for the shot.
(5) I had to be okay with a narrow band of focus as I was waving the camera around like a flagman on an airport runway. the narrow focus comes with high speed shots.
After10 shots I felt it was the best I could do with what I had. Darkness was coming and all the swamp monsters were honed in on me as soon as I would cross the mine field of underground creature sucking springs. I’m quite sure I heard them.
Sometimes, some days, some jobs, some relatives, some cars, some vacations, some pictures and some circumstances we just need to be okay. Some other time I’ll talk about the best things in life. Come to think of it, that’s probably why I’m okay with most of these side things in life being second best.
PS: do a quick click on David’s haiku, worth the follow. He used one of my photos from unsplash brilliantly