I missed a shot

April 08, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I missed a shot

I missed a shot! As hard as that might be to believe, it does happen...quite often I might add. That's right, I once missed a shot! I am so sorry to spring this on all my loyal fans, readers and supporters who believe I am without fault when I pick up a camera. Next time I'll try to do better and shout out a warning before a drop another bombshell!

This tragedy happened in June of 2007, and it haunts me to this day. Bay City hosts a major speed boat race every June called the River Roar. I work with Jay Fox, an engineer and friend, and he and his family are heavily involved with the race. Each year he is able to get me a media pass for the race weekend and I am very grateful for him doing this. Jay used to race in the River Roar, and did quite well, but he sort of retired a few years back.

The River Roar is a three day event starting on Friday with action occurring on each day. Friday, the boats are just testing things out, getting the feel of the river, fine tuning the motor, etc. Saturday is more testing in addition to racing and time trials. Sunday's schedule includes more testing, and finally, the real races are run. Since I still have a day job, I work half a day on Friday, eat lunch and then walk down to the river to see what kind of trouble I can get myself into. That, by the way, is what I'm always telling people as I head off to do some shooting. Anyway, I work within walking distance of the river race course. If the windows are open, you can hear the roar of the motors.

This fateful event occurred on Friday. After lunch I meet a fellow shooter, who will be called "Steve", down at the river. After shooting on the west side of the river for awhile we decided to walk over to the east side. Along the way, we stopped on the bridge for several shots from that angle. Continuing on, we reached a very nice shooting location on the east side. From this new vantage point, the boats would be coming out of a turn and straight at us. Water would be flying, rooster tails created and choppy water to navigate.

Mostly I will be shooting with a high shutter speed in order to freeze the action. After awhile, I'll get bored with this, and lower my shutter speed, drop my ISO and stomp the aperture down if need be and then set the IS (image stabilization) on the lens to allow me to pan while shooting. I love doing this because, when it works, a sense of motion and movement is captured. If I'm lucky, I'll want to keep 3 or 4 of the hundreds of panning shots. I had just switched to this panning mode and started tracking a boat that was coming into the turn. About half way though the turn, something happened, and the boat started flipping and tumbling though the air, kicking up water and breaking off parts! So of course I am holding the shutter button down until everything stops. Steve and I watch the rescue boats and divers rush to the damaged boat. The driver would be fine, the boat....well not so much.

It was then we started to review our shots to see if indeed we were able to capture the action. We had! Only mine were a bit burry because of being in panning mode. Steve never shot in panning mode, so he was able to freeze the mayhem. Then, to add more salt to the wound, his camera has a higher burst rate than mine! He had more shots of the flipping and tumbling! In the end, he was able to sell one of his photos to a speed boat magazine. I posted three.

Fast forward to 2010. That year, I was able to catch an ultra light as it flipped and tumbled. These boats don't go as fast as the speed boats, but they can flip just as easily if they hit a wave just right and get some air under it. I posted 10 shots and I was happy...until the next year. I had been shooting along the west side of the river for awhile when I decided to change locations to the bridge. Upon reaching a security check point to the bridge the person manning it asked if had I caught the big tumble that had just happened in front the location I had just left. Outwardly, I just smiled and replied, "No." Inwardly, many four-letter words were spoken because 2007 had just been eclipsed!


Link to the gallery that has the boat I missed in 2007 (starting with photo #17)

Link to the gallery that has my ultra light tumbling photos (starting with photo #3)




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