What would you do?
Landscape Photography is not an extreme sport.
Yes there are risks involved in being outside in the wilderness, often in sub-optimal conditions and in the low light conditions of dawn and dusk. Trails can be slippery from mud or fallen leaves, branches may fall from overhead, rocks may move under our weight and any number of unforeseen dangers may be present.
The other day, my wife and I took our 2 small dogs in to the woods a short drive from our home to a local waterfall. The trail was wet, but not in bad shape. We made it to our destination without any incident. On the way out I spotted some late afternoon light falling into a narrow ravine next to the trail.
I positioned my tripod as close to the edge of the trail as possible in an effort to remove the trail from the scene. I sometimes like to document my photography by taking a picture of the scene that I am capturing with my camera in the foreground by using my cellphone. After a few seconds of fumbling through my pockets to find my phone and turn on the camera I captured this image.
The observant in you may notice that the camera is not quite sharp, for sure there is a depth of field issue, but mostly I think this is due to the camera slowly starting to fall towards the creek. A split second of panic as I pondered falling into the ravine myself in order to save my camera or just waving goodbye to it as it splashed into the water below. So what would you have done?
I didn't have time to react, but luckily I try to maintain contact with my camera when I am using my tripod in sketchy locations. In this case I managed to hold on to the camera strap with my left hand (right dominant hand was holding cellphone) and pull the camera back to level. So other than a brief adrenaline rush the camera and I came out unscathed.
I mention this as being lucky, but there is some measure of preparedness here as well. I try to keep contact with my camera when in situations of uneven ground or when trying to reach out to get a shot. I also do things like wrap the strap around my wrist when re-positioning my camera and tripod. I do not recommend this but I often walk around like this and even cover considerable distances with my camera still attached to my tripod. I also try to put the strap around my neck when attaching or removing my camera from the tripod.
I am pretty happy with the image that I captured while all this was going on. I will visit this spot again, but with more of an eye for safety. Let me know what you think you would have done in the comments below.
Pay attention to your camera and your safety, get out there and enjoy the wilderness.