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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

When It Goes Wrong


Hit By Lightning • Hydrate! • Bad Rocky Mountain High • Sooooo Cold • Lost Going To The Devils Postpile• Bugs In The Amazon • All Images Lost

This Article Features Photo Zoom


You never want to surprise a grizzly bear on the trail. Making noise to let them know you’re coming is a good idea. Another good idea is to carry pepper spray. In most cases, it will send the bear packing. This image was taken in Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska, from within a parked vehicle. The camera was a Canon EOS 20D with a Canon EF 500mm lens set to 1⁄350 sec. at ƒ/5.6.

Anytime you get a group of professional photographers into close proximity, you’ll find them gathered ’round the campfire (or in the local pub) to swap stories and talk shop. Sometimes there’s a kind of “can you top this” mentality going on, but we all learn a lot from each other’s bad experiences. Turn up the lights and throw a log on the fire before you read this because some of it’s pretty scary. It’s not about ghosts and werewolves; it’s the foolishly frightening ways we photographers put ourselves and our equipment in danger. Listen and learn!

Have you heard the one about...

...The Photographer Who Got Hit By Lightning
Your personal safety as an outdoor photographer depends on careful attention to and defense against Mother Nature’s activities. As photographers, we’re drawn to Her wonderful displays, taking our metal tripods onto rock faces to photograph lightning in the distance. But lightning is by definition unpredictable, and here in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado we’re especially respectful because a colleague was killed by a lightning strike on America’s Mountain a few years ago. The person walking next to him survived, but rescue was delayed by more than an hour due to the continued strikes in the area.

I love to photograph lightning, but I won’t put myself at risk. My Lightning Trigger (www.lightningtrigger.com) takes the photographs while I stay safe inside my vehicle. If you’re caught in a lightning storm, take shelter immediately or crouch low with only your feet in contact with the ground (a good reason to practice your Yoga).

...The Workshop Leader Who Ended Up In The Hospital
Water, water everywhere, and I should have been drinking more of it. During a workshop I was leading in the high Sierras of California, I was fortunate to have a couple of physicians among the participants. They noticed that I was (even more than usually) out of sorts and disoriented, as well as having chest pains. Fearing a possible heart problem, they quickly got me to a hospital in the area, where simple dehydration was the diagnosis. An overnight IV course remedied the problem.

The risk of dehydration increases at altitude, so be sure to carry sufficient fluids and field water purification systems, and keep yourself and everyone else in your group well hydrated.


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