Mind Your Surroundings: Ice Squared

We have all heard horror stories of photographer’s who didn’t mind their surroundings. Typically these stories occur while taking photos on the shore and include the tide coming in and wet camera gear. Over the past month, I have had two separate incidents of not minding my surroundings that I wanted to share. They both involve my current nemesis…ice.

As I alluded to in my recent posting on photo walks, ice is the reason that I wasn’t able to do a photo walk yesterday during my time here in Boston. (My colleague John Davies did thought and has a great shot of this building in downtown Boston…I’m so jealous!) But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me start from the beginning.

This past December, I was visiting my parents back in Wisconsin for the holidays. A few days before Christmas, we went out at night to view a holiday light display in a nearby town. Of course I had to bring the camera! After about an hour out in the freezing cold, we were getting ready to leave. I wanted to grab just a few more shots of a nearby locomotive that was on display in the city park and outlined in lights. Since it was close to where we parked the car, I decided to walk around a building to the locomotive to take my shots. So, there I was camera on the tripod over my shoulder walking around a building in the dark.

As I turned the corner, just out of view of my family, my foot hit a patch of dark ice. You can probably image what happened next. Just like a cartoon, my fee went up in the air while my back and head slammed into the concrete walk way. I was seeing stars…both figuratively and literally. Oh yeah, and remember the camera…that slammed into the walk way lens first! Remarkably the camera, lens, and lens filter survived the impact with out any harm. My head did not. I never did get my photo of the locomotive but did go home with a concussion.

That was round one with my nemesis. This past Friday was round two.

I have spent the past few days in the Boston area on a business trip. A day after I arrived, I received an email from one of my stock agencies looking for photos of bizarre buildings. Someone is writing a book on the topic and looking for photos. They have a list of buildings they would like photos of and two of the buildings happened to be at the MIT campus in Cambridge. My first business meeting was taking place in Cambridge, and I could see one of the buildings from my hotel room! So, Friday after my meetings I walked down the street to the Stata Center building on the MIT campus.

The Stata Center building is a unique building full of curves and strange angles (check out the building’s virtual tour). The building even has an outdoor amphitheater built into the side of it. I was standing on one of the tiers of this amphitheater framing up a shot, but I needed to step down to a lower tier to remove a tree from my shot. This is when my nemesis reared its ugly head. The only patch of ice in a five mile radius of me was on that lower tier of the amphitheater, not any larger than the size of my shoe. And I stepped down onto it. My ankle twisted severely and I ended up on my butt.

I got the shot that I was after (see image to the right) and continued to hobble around campus for another hour taking more photos (just at a slower speed than normal). But I left the field of battle wounded with worst sprained ankle that I have ever had. And I’m sure the mile walk back to my hotel didn’t help my ankle’s condition. Thus, I spent yesterday in my hotel room with ice on my ankle instead of walking around the Boston harbor area taking photos.

The moral of my stories is to Mind Your Surroundings. As photographers we are so used to minding the view through the camera, but we tend to get lost inside the camera and loose sense of everything else around us. Next time your out shooting, try to remember to consider everything else around you. It can help prevent loss or damage to your gear…as well as yourself.

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