The tree’s my tripod

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Older posts, Shoots in short

A recce weekend at the newly-revamped Gary Player course. Misty morning. Me bored. Took my camera and wandered off onto the damp course. The light was flat and uninteresting, but at some point, literally for a few seconds at a time, the sun broke through gaps between the low-lying mist and the higher clouds, creating beautiful backlighting on the blades of grass surrounding the greens.

The only problem was that I had no tripod, and needed to shoot at around f11 and higher for front-to-back sharpness, which pushed the shutter speed down. Further, the sun was shining into the lens, causing flare. I had to raise my camera position to use the mild cloud cover and diffusing effect of the leaves at the top of my frame to bring the contrast range back into usable territory.

The only vantage point from where I could exclude the sun from shining directly into the lens was halfway up a milkwood tree. There were no lower branches, but the trunk was angled enough for a “friction fit” – I jumped up, threw my legs and arms around the trunk, and clung to the tree with my legs clamped solidly (read desperately) around the trunk, leaving my hands free to shoot.

This worked fine – although it looked rather odd. At least, that’s what I read from the face of the security guard on his quad bike patrolling the area.

I had about 5 seconds to get this shot, as the sun briefly illuminated the area well enough to cause hard enough shadows to define the undulations of the course. If I had left it for ten minutes later, the sun would have been too high, causing the frontal shadows to shrink, and the definition and shaping of the course gone.

Fortunately, the sun and clouds played ball and gave me the five seconds to compose, expose and shoot. I got literally one shot. All the others taken before and after lacked the direct, hard light that helps define the shapes in this one so well.

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Comments
  1. Adele says:

    Thank you so very much Jaco – your photos are unbelievable!!

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