Posted by: oneyearbook | October 6, 2009

Tough shootin’

Outside magazine has a great, great feature called “My Toughest Shot,” up here on their website. (I really like Mathieu Paley’s shot of Lake Baikal, Philipp Engelhorn’s eagle, and the story behind Chris Anderson’s shot, but they are all great and worth browsing through for sure.) After seeing the photo gallery yesterday I was amused to see that my friend Byron, who I went to photography school with, has his own “Toughest Shot” feature up on his blog, here. So I’m getting on this bandwagon now.  My story is fairly similar to the one related by Jeff Hutchens at Outside, despite a vast difference in the geography in the photo.

It was the summer of 2006, and I had just bought my first D-SLR, the Canon 30D that I’m still working with, and was excited to take it with me to the Chilcotin region of BC, where I was working for the summer at a swank fishing resort. The hotel offered float plane tours of the surrounding mountainous, glacial region, and the pilot, Dale, told the staff that if he happened to have an empty seat one day and we weren’t working, we could come along. It was pretty rare that he did have an empty seat, but I made it clear that I was really interesting in coming up to take photographs, so when he finally did, I snagged it.

Now, I am EXTREMELY prone to motion sickness. I have been felled for hours by watching a video game on a large screen TV; sometimes just driving in a car makes me queasy. So we went up and everything was going fine at first as we winged our way towards the glacial lake where we were going to stop. I had the viewfinder glued to my eye, going like mad – the opportunity to shoot the world from above is so rare, and I was pretty excited. Then about five minutes in it hit me: this was really, really, really not good for my stomach. We landed at the lake; I moped on a rock near the shore; we had to get back into the plane, because I wasn’t allowed to live out the rest of my miserable life at that cold, high lake; and we had to swerve around wildly on the way back, flying too close to the aeries of mountain goats and the spray of waterfalls. I forced myself to raise the camera again, take deep cold breaths, and shoot, and shoot.

Unlike Mr. Hutchens at Outside, I did not vomit, into my hands or camera bag or otherwise. (This is mainly because I have so much experience suppressing the symptoms of motion sickness.) When we landed I made it about two steps up the float plane dock, collapsed to the ground, and lay shivering for half an hour.

Anyways, the resultant shots were pretty fun, and I was glad I did it, but I don’t know if I’d ever agree to photograph from an airplane again.

Flying over glacial lakes

Flying over glacial lakes

That’s the one I’m going to call the ‘toughest,’ just to have one to label, but here’s a couple more from the same shoot; the waterfall was taken when I was feeling the worst, so that might actually literally be the one where I struggled most to put the viewfinder to my eye.

Mountain waterfall

Mountain waterfall

Receding glaciers

Receding glaciers


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