A recent public service announcement on one of our local television stations reminded people they should be prepared with several days worth of supplies in the event of an earthquake. Apparently we live near Utah’s Wasatch Fault.
That reminded me of The Boy Scout motto; “Be Prepared,” something I had also been reminded of while on a recent vacation. My wife, a close friend and I went on a self-described photo safari vacation to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
Being prepared ties directly into our company philosophy. At MerlinOne, we try to do a lot of things just a little better than others. And doing lots of things just 5% better than the digital asset management competition adds up!
Since it was a photo trip, and the goal was to make nice photos of some of the most photogenic landscape in the world, I brought almost every piece of relevant camera gear I could think of. We loaded my 4Runner with tripods, lenses, and camera cards. I even brought my light kit with strobes and stands, though I was sure I would not need them. We brought clothing for every conceivable weather report. We brought sunscreen for when it was sunny, and long underwear in case it was not.
Our first morning, we were up well before sunrise so we could photograph Mesa Arch at Canyonlands National Park near Moab. It was cold, but we were prepared. Hats, gloves, coats. We set up our tripods to wait for the sun to come up, and it never did. We waited, hoping the clouds would open up to light up the red rock. No amount of preparation can account for something like that; we did not have any control over the clouds that morning. Mesa Arch would have to wait for another day.
Later on our trip, we were at Monument Valley, famous as the back drop for many movies set in the west. One of the things we wanted to photograph was one of the “Mittens” casting its shadow on the other and the moonrise behind. This is about being prepared. This only happens for a couple of days each year when the sun and moon are in just the right position. As you might expect, we missed it the first day. We were set up on our tripods; we knew exactly where the sun would set and where the moon would rise. We had done our homework, studying tables from the Naval observatory for our latitude and longitude so we could position ourselves with our compass and clinometer (measures elevation). Everything was in place. Except for one thing, those clouds again. So no shadow, no moon. Boring flat light mittens despite our extra efforts.
Each night, we copied data from our camera cards to an external computer hard drive, updating each of the files with metadata. Appropriate caption information and keywords added to each image so pictures could be found later when added to a digital asset management system. The cards were not used again (until we returned home) as a back up, and were kept in a separate location from the hard drive. Again, trying to be prepared by doing things a little better than others. I was mindful of a story of a photographer who lost all his work to a fire while on assignment.
We endeavored to try our shadow Mittens photo the following night. Things were not looking good. Lots of clouds to our back shielding the sun, the moonrise would be an hour and ten minutes later that night, so no chance of incorporating that into our picture. Then the wind picked up, and with it the sand. It was like standing in front of a sand blaster. Being prepared, plastic bags and camera rain coats that were stored in the back of the car protected the gear as we kept looking for the sun to drop into the open space between the clouds and the horizon behind us.
And finally it did.
Posted by David Breslauer
Photo by David Breslauer