Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vrooom With A View

How I Missed The Flight Of The Hornets

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


As most of you know, my trusty Pentax K100D is practically welded to my shoulder, just so I never have to say: "I wish I had my camera to capture this sight". But be patient, pull up a chair and I'll tell you how I missed a spectacular opportunity. And you know the real clincher? I had not one but three cameras with me. This is how it all happened ...

On Friday at lunchtime I had to go and pick up a couple of great little Pentax cameras (the 10-megapixel Optio S10 and the eight-megapixel Optio M40) that I'm testing and that I'll give you my recommendations on in the not too distant future. Having collected the cameras, I then had to decide whether to take the freeway or go down picturesque Chapel Street. Naturally, I chose Chapel Street, even though I knew the traffic would be heavy. It's a funky street, so I knew there would be plenty of photo opportunities.

Bear in mind that it was more than 100 degrees that day and I'm not a tropical kinda person. But in the next few minutes, every time I saw a great photo opportunity, I would pull over, park the car legally, get out into the scorching heat and take the photograph/s. Then I'd drive off again.

Having done this a few times, I saw this great turret window (above). It caught my attention not just because of the shape of the window, not just because of the strong burgundy colour, but because the occupant of the apartment had carefully placed three pot plants on the narrow window ledge. I was too far away to tell what plants they were, but they were wilting in the extreme heat. And if you look closely, you'll see the right-hand flowerpot has a diagonal crack right across it, so it obviously loses water and moisture much quicker than the other two.

I had to get the shot. I put away the two new Pentaxes that I was testing and took out my own camera, with the 70-300mm lens that I bought about three weeks ago. It was perfect for the shot I needed. I thought about taking some more shots of the window and even framed one possible shot, a strong vertical, with the clear blue sky a great contrast with the burgundy. Then I shrugged and chose not to hit the shutter. I walked back to the car, placed the camera gently on the passenger seat and turned to check the traffic.

I'm not one for profanities, but that's as close as I came to uttering an oath.

There was one of the best shots I could ever have taken. Flying low through exactly the same patch of blue sky that I had framed a few moments earlier was a perfect formation of four RAAF F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters.

Aircraft do not fly in that pattern over the city, but the RAAF had special permission because the Hornets were practising their flypast for Sunday's Australian Formula One Grand Prix. I had just missed one of the rarest shots I could ever hope to shoot - by about thirty seconds.

Just don't talk to me about the f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-flight of the Hornets.

32 comments:

ExpatKat said...

Oh, David how infuriating. The missed shot is as soul destroying as the perfect shot is elating. I sympathize.

Misty Dawn said...

I hate when that happens! During this past summer, one evening at dusk, I went for a photo-walk. I wasn't feeling well, so I was already in a lousy mood. I kept trying to photograph a dragonfly who refused to sit still. So, I proceeded to start lecturing the dragonfly (yes, I have issues). I told him that he was missing out on having his beauty captured and blah blah blah. When I finished arguing with the dragonfly, I turned just in time to see a great big White-Tailed buck walk across the road in front of me, and, of course, I wasn't prepared to take a photo because I was too busy arguing with a dragonfly.

Hilary said...

Oh David that really stings. If it's any consolation, you've described your setup so beautifully, I could picture it almost as well as if you'd have photographed it.

Monique said...

Oh dear David, I think we all have been there at one point in our lives.

I was doing the cryptic Saturday crossword in The Times. I had a half anagram with the words Sidney's golden anniversary. Where's the clue? I thought. Oh, that's the clue. But what does the setter mean by that? Then I thought of one of your earlier posts. The answer was Australia Day!

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kim said...

I am so sorry you missed the greatest shot of the day! That is so irritating! My guess is, though, that you are in good company as we all have missed such opportunities!

Well, I would see it this way...your turn is next for the greatest shot ever!

Great Blog!

Akelamalu said...

I bet you could have kicked yourself!

Anita said...

Ouch!

Seamus said...

Timing is everything!!!!!!! You know that you probably save more opportunities than you miss by being ever on the ready with your camera!

quilly said...

Ah! Serendipity works both for and against, I see!

Last night I went to a party for OC's business. I expected to be attending a social function only slightly more comfortable than wool underwear in summer. I was the only B.A. in a room full of Phd's. I did not take my camera. I barely expected to be welcome. With it, perhaps even less so.

Turns out that, scientists or not, they were very interesting people. I even understood most of the words they spoke because -- thankfully -- they policed each other about not talking shop in honor of the mates in attendance.

My hostess sports a Phd, but in the humanities, not the sciences. As I was looking at the spectacular view of the Honolulu/Waikiki skyline from their spectacular lanai, I asked my hostess if she had ever tried to capture that photograph. Turns out she had, but with little luck.

I told her I took a similar daylight shot from the top of the Manoa Cemetery (about 2 miles further up the valley) with fair results. She then suggested I try capturing the scene before us ... and my camera was home on the coffee table.

Argh.

imbeingheldhostage said...

Is it any consolation that you have captured so many beautiful shots so far? I agree with Hilary whole-heartedly!

Lee said...

Oh no, David! That must make you want to wince every time you think of it. But, as everyone else is pointing out, you aren't alone. I'm still trying to capture my cats fighting. So far I've gotten the camera turned only to see them stop to watch me. Eeh!

Hope!

Old Wom Tigley said...

David I'm not even going to try for a funny comment here.. that is such a blow. oH I think the air as well of the Sky would have been blue.

All the best for this week.
Tom

Vienna for Beginners said...

Oh, drats, that stings!!!! My heartfelt empathy for you.

As the swan-bird would sing,
"Well, now, go on a spree,
catch up in the sky
with the bumblebee
... "

CrazyCath said...

Oh David I bet you felt sick!

If it's any compensation, you have hundreds of opportunities on film that you didn't miss!

Glass is half full an' all that... ;0)

Cowgirl said...

Argh, what luck. Guessing you're not a huge fan of Rimskij-Korsakov either then???

aims said...

Oh David - what a shame! But your pic of that window...brought back many memories for me of windows that looked like that in Guelph, Ontario....not far from your Muskoka.....

Janice Thomson said...

One does feel bad when missing that ever so perfect shot.
Perhaps another wonderful shot is right around the corner. :)

joan said...

Oh man what a bummer. I bet you were so dissapointed. But I really like the shot you took. The color of the building and the plants are great. I'd rather take photos in the heat(but I like heat)then the cold when my fingers are frozen. LOL

imac said...

Ouch, that sure is a sting from a Hornets tail. David.

I know just how you felt.

Nice shot of the cracked flower pot tho.

Just think of all the ones you did capture tho.

Jules~ said...

Oh that must feel like such a bummer. I am sorry. My mind wasn't following initialy. I kept thinking that I would find you in your story tangled up with hornets (stinging nasty bugs) With my military brat background why did I not think otherwise?
So many of your other shots have been simply perfect so maybe that is a small consolation for you.

Marja said...

That's indeed bad luck. But who knows which other great shots you come to make and I do love the window with the three pots.

Lori said...

That really stinks. But my mom always says to take pictures with our minds...and that sometimes we miss things when we have our eye up to a lens. I've found that to be true.

Still...it's got to be disappointing. You always deliver great shots, this being no exception.

Gawdess said...

the one that got away sounds like a beautiful one, but I do like the one you caught too, for all the reasons that you already mention.

Mushy said...

That's okay...I just said one for you!

Carolyn said...

Grrrrrrrrr. That's all I can think of. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Shrinky said...

I missed the best photo shot of our entire safari, a cheetah and her cubs walked out in front of us, and decided to stop yards from where we were. The cubs were playing. My memory card needed changing, by the time I fumbled around to fish out a fresh one, the moment had passed..

We never did come across any other cheetahs..

Sandy Kessler said...

color contrasts superb!!

Kimberly said...

Oh dear...I'd be twitching and stuttering a bit after that myself! Sympathies!

D... said...

I feel your pain! I always have a camera with me and HATE when I miss a shot.

Craver Vii said...

You're probably still in anguish, but I have a selfish contribution here. I would really enjoy hearing such a story, live among a bunch of empathetic listeners. Can't you just imagine the thunderous reaction of the audience at the climax? Bad for the teller, great for the crowd.

You lost the shot, but not our hearts. We're still big fans, mon vieux.

By the way, I have a photo of a cracked pot, too. It's entitled "self portrait."

How 'bout smelling salts for Kimberly; she's still twitching.

diane said...

uhhh, don't you just h*te that.

Sharon said...

Bless your heart! If you had only known. Just think of all the great work you have done!