Photo Fumbling! Or Practicing for Wildlife Photography in Antarctica

Oh my, have I ever got a lot to learn about A racoon in our backyard provided the perfect opportunity to practice my wildlife before I leave for Antarctica.

This morning a hissing, malfunctioning alarm clock  fluffy, cute raccoon waddled into our backyard providing me with the perfect opportunity to try out my new camera. According to my wife, it was likely that the $*$^& noisy poor thing had been a scuffle with the neighbor’s dog in the middle of the night. As such, he was resting and only mildly concerned about being photo-stalked.

However, what should have been an easy experiment in the subtleties of SLR photography turned into a comedy of errors. It went something like this:

“OOO! Practice time! Stay there. Stay there.” Scurry to den to find the camera. Got it. To the backyard. Aim and zoom in. Blur. Just blur. Right. Manual focus. Oops… that’s the zoom. Where’s the focus ring?! “Don’t move little buddy.” Oh crud. Don’t go behind the tree! Focus ring… Where? Aha… focus ring! What the? Video mode. Switch to… what do you mean, the SD card is full?! Ack! Runs to get a new card. Where’d he go? Oh there. Low battery? What?! Argh!

And so on.

So what did I learn?

  • Your camera needs to be ready. I plan to make a habit of leaving the camera in an autofocus setting with enough SD card space and battery life for several pictures. I need to be able to pick up the camera, point and shoot.
  • It is better to get something, than try for perfection and end up with nothing.
  • Know your lens. After today’s accidental experiment, I learned I need to practice more with the two lenses I have.
  • If possible, avoid change lenses. I can just imagine, if this had been a real photo “emergency,” how easy it would have been to drop a lens overboard in the middle of my fumbling.
  • An autofocus zoom would be really handy. There is a weather resistance lens available for my camera that is terribly tempting. I’ll be watching Craigslist.
  • You can never have too many SD cards and charged batteries. I now have several memory cards and I have extra batteries on order.

I eventually got a shot I was happy with, but I can just imagine how much harder it will be when I’m on Gravol a rocking cruise ship and I only have one chance to catch the breach of a whale or the perfect shot of Kate Upton some other Antarctic nature drama. Hopefully, with the lessons I learned today, I’ll be better prepared to capture that once-in-a-lifetime shot.

So I went with a friend to see “The Life of Pi” last night. What a beautiful movie! If you get a chance to see it in the theater  do. I totally understand why it is up for an Academy Award.

However, in retrospect, it may not have been the best movie for someone about to set sail for his first ever cruise. A little like watching “Airport” before your first time flying. Doh! 🙂

Greg Tjosvold is a teacher, writer, and innovator. One of the first to crowdsource his biography, he is apparently 12 ft tall, has no body fat, is always polite, and is the only living recipient of an Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Stanley Cup, Pulitzer, and two Nobel prizes (Economics and Break Dancing). He is currently reevaluating the merits of crowdsourcing.

He is the father of two amazing children and currently lives with his wonderful wife in the wilds of suburban Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.