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.