|The sunrise is out there somewhere|
Whenever we take out travel insurance, my wife and I are always amused by the risk categories of the various holiday and sport occupations that are listed. For example, Occasional light manual work is apparently more risky that Rhino trekking, who knew (and does a photography count as "light" work) . Up to now however, I have never seen landscape photography categorized as a risky activity, but maybe travel insurance companies are missing a trick.
Let me explain...
I have been recently in a bit of a fud, photographically speaking. This has been not helped by some of the worse winter weather I can remember as a photographer. Since October, it has felt like all we had either rain, or if not raining, dull featureless clouds. I have recently been putting in a lot of hours at work so I felt a strong urge to just get out and do something. With the weather forecast looking hopeful, I decided to take an almost unheard of impromptu day off.
The next question was where to go. Obviously I would only have the day, so it made sense to go into the peaks. Fortunately at this time of year, the sunrises are still at a time when you don't have to get up at stupid o'clock. So the next question was where? While I was tempted to try somewhere new, I decided that was too much of a risk, so i headed for Curbar edge, an area I know well and only 50 minutes away.
Apart from the sunrise I had no real plans, but I decided to take my IR camera in the hope the weather would be good enough. I don't know whether it was that act of hubris that tipped the weather gods against me, but when I arrived 30 minutes before sunrise, it was clear I was not going to get anything. Instead of a ball of fusion generating light and heat, all I had was fog, fog and more fog, completely obscuring the ridge. After hanging around for a while,in the hope the cloud may turn into an inversion, I gave up, went back to the car, had a coffee and a rethink.
After a quick check on the map, I realised I was only 5 miles from Padley Gorge. There I hoped the mist may enter the forest, so give me some nice misty tree shots.
|I love the trees at Padley|
Padley has become my default go to place in recent years. It has a great combination of forest, hills, and one of the best water courses in the South Peak District. However in this occasion it let me down. The mist was not strong enough to enter the forest, so after an hour of wandering I decided to head down to the river itself to do a bit of white water stuff. Things here were better and while not taking anything that was going to take the landscape photography by storm, it was nice just to be creating.
I decided to take one last shot on a large flat boulder in the stream. I have used this boulder before and provides a good tripod base, while affording a great view up the river.
Now in recent years I have found myself becoming more risk adverse. In my youth I would go up and down hills, like a mountain goat on acid. Today I will try and find the easy path, even if that means a detour. However the path to the rock looked easy, so I edged my way over using my tripod as an improvised support.
I don't fully remember the next chain of events. I remember getting one foot on the rock, then the next thing I recall is the sensation of the removal of friction under my feet and then looking up at the sky, with the rest of body and my camera bag immersed in Padley gorge.
|The scene of the accident|
After I had recovered from the shock of my sudden baptism, I scrambled to the side and up the bank, and stood there like an overweight Colin Firth just after a dip in Pemberley's s pond. Of course my first reaction was not to check for any injury, but to check my camera. Praying to the gods of weather sealing I turned it on and was relieved to see it respond, probably saved by the fact I had fell on my back.
I decided not to check on anything else, there and then, and instead left a sodden trail as I walked the half a mile to get back to the car. It was there I decided to take stock. Amazingly my waterproof coat had protected me from the worst of the ingress and only the bottom of my fleece was wet. It had also protected my phone from immersion and it seemed fine. My trousers and shoes were a different story. Fortunately I had a spare pair of waterproof trousers to wear and could swap trainers for my boots. Also luckily, my camera bag had not taken on much water, and even the micro towel inside was dry. However I spread the lenses on the backseat as a precaution.
It was only when I had time to think about it that I realised how lucky I had been. Not so much the potential loss of my kit (which would of been annoying but replaceable) but the fact I had not injured myself. If I hadn't landed into a deep pool of water (cold but soft), I could of just of easily fell on rocks and suffered a severe injury such as a blow to the head.
This brings up the point of how much risk it is actually worth taking to get a photograph. With the world of photography getting increasingly competitive and the ability to stand out from the crowd more difficult, the temptation is to go the extra yard to get that dramatic image. Ignore the incoming tide, stand on the quayside in a gale, climb over safety barriers, all these are things photographers, me included, have done in the past.
However I am not sure I want the inscription on my gravestone, "taken too early, but nice photo". Do you?