Every Photohrapher Gets a Second Chance

Great White Heron, Strut
Great White Heron, Strut

Thanks to my friend and fellow photographer Don McGowan, I’m writing about something kept hidden for many years, probably due to guilt, shame and a number of other emotional things.

Don publishes a weekly (I think it’s weekly) Image for his followers to look at and comment on. It’s a terrific opportunity to keep up with things in an interesting and informative way. Google Earth Song Photography. Also ask him to put you on his newsletter list.

He had mentioned an author in his quote, a Book entitled Photography as Meditation: Tap Into the Source of Your Creativity by Torsten Andreas Hoffmann.

While looking at the reviews of that book on Amazon I noticed one of my all time favorite mentors Jay Maisel and his book It’s Not About The F-Stop. I stopped to read what he was saying. Amazon has a LOOK INSIDE feature for a peak. Well, Maisel talks about one of his first important assignment screw ups – a party where he found Marlyn Monroe and Sammy Davis Jr. It was his way to discuss that we’re not alone. Everyone does it and is granted a second chance

So, now it’s my turn to come clean…

We were in Key West to visit my sister visiting Florida from Buffalo, NY. the day before I GWH Encounter 2 - Gryttenwas doing a shoot for a real estate client and using Ilford XP2 400, a Black & White film that was processed with color equipment. The nice thing about this film was that it could really be pushed – from 400 all the way to 3200 or even 6400. That was way before Digital and hardly had any grain (for those younger than 40 years old). Well I had set the film at ASA 400 (think ISO) as we had to do it manually for that film.

At any rate, there we were in Key West and I was out shooting or rather looking for Great White Heron, an all white morf of the Great Blue Heron. One could tell them from the Great Egret by there yellow legs and bills. I had located a few, too far away to photography. And the wind had been blowing about 20 knots, too much to launch a boat to their rookeries. So, not effective images.

On the morning of last day, about 5AM I was in downtown Key West. Shooting Aperture Priority, I sensed something wasn’t right. The shots were cycling too fast for my Kodak 64 film. Another shot and I listened intently, then checked my settings. OMG!! I had never reset my ASA from the 400 five days before. A pit in the middle of my stomach. My face to was flushing. How stupid! Five days worth of shooting – all under exposed by at least two stops. For slides (positive film) past the point of recapture. No Shooting Raw in those days.

After kicking myself around some more, I finally drove back to the campground. It wasn’t until a lot of coffee before I calmed down, to think reality.

It was only 7AM – I just might have another chance at those Great White Heron. I would drive up the keys and hope for the best – this time with camera set at proper exposure. this would be the second chance Maisel spoke of in his book.

Great White Heron - Flight
Great White Heron – Flight

What happened is that I encountered a pair of Hereon within good focal range in great morning light. 40 images of a ritual yet to be determined but together with a narrative has been published twice and ended up as a Great Whiter Heron collection that has sold many times.

Thanks to Don and Jay for helping me see the light…

Bob says…
Bob says…

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