Deal 8: Here it is: The most requested deal of 2014!
Not long ago I received a comment on one of my waterfall photos from my most regular commenter A.Barlow. He asked me whether I’d ever almost dropped my camera into any of the waterfalls that I’ve visited.
This got me thinking about how many times that, not only have I almost dropped my camera, but in the process to save my camera, almost tossed myself into the raging rivers around these waterfalls as well. So grab your coffee and listen up because here is the truth about a landscape photographer and what he or she has to endure when looking to snag that perfect photograph.
So you’re packed and ready to go get some photographs of Trap Falls. Today right? Wrong!
Downpours all day long, high wind warning in effect and blah blah blah you get the idea right? Mother Nature has decided that you’re not going to be photographing a waterfall today; in fact you’re not going to be doing much of anything today. Today’s the kind of day that you’ll be making yourself a hot cup of tea and spending the day inside catching up on your backlog of unedited photos.
Weather is one of the most frustrating aspects of photography and it doesn’t even have to come down to rain or shine, but just a small amount of clouds in the right place at the right time of day can make for an AMAZING sunset and then those same clouds in the wrong place at that very same moment can make for a complete non-sunset.
So far though, weather doesn’t sound that dangerous right – just a bit inconvenient. Well, there is a great amount of danger involved in weather as well.
Think about hiking to the top of a mountain in autumn to get some foliage shots from the peak. If you get stuck in a sudden and unexpected storm, or even just a random squall, you could be in some serious trouble. Mountain tops in early fall can reach temperatures below freezing well before any of us on the lower land and if caught you could be spending the night completely unprepared for those cold temps.
Another example, think about traveling into a field in the Midwest to photograph one of those amazing super cell thunderstorms, what if your forecast was a few miles in the wrong direction and you ended up right inside the storm instead of photographing it from a safe distance. Talk about an electrifying experience!
I’ve been lucky enough to only be caught in a small downpour once, sure it was miserable getting wet and having to toss my camera in a bag, but I made it out alive.
Weather of course can be the best friend of the photographer too, creating amazing rainbows, cloud formations, and epic storms that all present worthwhile photographic opportunities, which are the reason we risk these dangers. It’s just important to know that they exist.
There are many aspects to photography that require perfect timing, but it’s never truer than in landscape photography. Inside a studio you can mitigate the harsh effects of natural light by using various flashes, reflectors and shades to get the perfect result every time. You can, in most cases, control your subject’s movement or position to an exact location. This sort of control goes flying out the window when you’re in Mother Nature’s playing field.
When photographing landscapes it’s important to realize that 90% of the day the light just is not perfect for photography. Sure it’s possible to use lens filters or fire off several brackets in the middle of the day and use HDR to convert the shot, but the truly inspiring shots come just after sunrise or just before sunset.
But how does this timing result in danger? Well it might not be as obvious as you might expect, but due to these times of the day you’re going to be doing most of your traveling in the darkest and coldest parts of the day.
In order to get to your location before sunrise you’ll be hiking there well before the sun breaks the horizon, if on the other hand you plan to photograph near sunset, you’ll be returning to your car by flashlight. A lot of the time these locations are not easy to get to in the light of day, let alone in the dark of night.
I’m not much for waking up before the sun and therefore have little experience on the early end of this timing, but I’ve hiked back from grabbing a few sunset shots in the dark and it can be quite nerve-racking even when you’re familiar with the area. There’s just something about the woods that really starts to creep me out after the sun fades.
If you’re going to be a dedicated landscape photographer you’ve got to make sure you’re ready and able to hike up wet rocks and steep hillsides. The unique photographs will often come from the path less traveled, which means, you’re going to be doing some serious hiking.
Anybody can drive to Niagara Falls and take a photograph of that amazing wonder of the world, but not everyone is going to be willing to hike two miles into the woods of western MA to find Royalston Falls plunging a modest, yet beautiful, 40ft into a cavernous gorge. It’s all about your dedication level as a photographer and what you’re willing to do.
So yes, I’ve been lucky in a sense. I’ve yet to smash, submerge, or catch fire to my camera. I’ve yet to break a bone, sprain a joint, or severely cut myself in the process of getting to a location. I haven’t gotten lost or been stranded without food and water, but these things can happen and it’s important to realize that us landscape photographers are subjected to these dangers every time we venture out into the wilderness.
In my short time as a landscape photographer I’ve begun to realize the importance of taking my time, shoring my footing, and always having another person with me. My girlfriend is getting very good at yelling out “John be careful!” just before I step off a cliff, or into a river or walking straight into a tree. I’d recommend anyone venturing into the wilderness, for any reason, to bring a friend or two to help keep an eye on you. We photographers often spend so much time looking through that viewfinder that we forget about our surroundings so it’s always good to have that second pair of eyes watching your back, because one wrong step and you could be in some serious trouble.
How do you protect yourself against the dangers of landscape photography? Have you ever lost any gear or injured yourself in the process of grabbing an amazing shot? I’d love to hear the stories from the dPS crowd!
John Davenport is an inspired amateur photographer specializing in landscapes around Massachusetts. He posts daily photos on his blog Phogropath and has a weekly waterfall post every Wednesday. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.
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November 28, 2011 03:51 pm
So to add to all of the comments on this great article, I have been hiking and taking nature shots for more years than I care to remember. A little over 2 years ago, I was hiking in Garrapata State Park (just below Monterey, California. Garrapata has several main trails, one of them leads inland through a redwood forest, and is really quite a great hike. I was coming back after hiking the inland trail, and on a particularly narrow section, I saw a couple of people coming the other way. I tool a small side detour and that's where I had problems. I stepped on a large rock which was covered with loose dirt, lost my footing, and before I knew it, I was on my butt sliding down about a 40 foot hillside. I finally stopped with my feet in the Sobranes creek, and both of my tibias broken. My Canon EOS 5D Mark II (less than a year old) landed in the creek out of reach. I won't go into all the details, but the end result was it took 6 hours and about 20 people to get me out, and my camera was destroyed (filled up with water). I now have Titanium rods in both legs, they work just fine and I'm hiking again, with a new 5D Mark II. I was more upset about my camera than my legs! This gallery id from that fateful trip (my memory cards weer undamaged):
I can't stress this enough. I had good hiking shoes on. Was not taking pictures when I fell, had about 38 pounds of camera gear and water on me, and was hiking ALONE. The mistake was hiking alone. They may not be able to keep you from going over the edge, but they can get help if needed!
November 27, 2011 04:11 am
Alanna's experience brings up a good point. In the Texas Hill Country and the desert beyond, water can become lethal unexpectedly. At Pedernales Falls, not far from the LBJ Ranch, the Pedernales River can go from a gently flowing stream flowing between limpid pools to a roaring torrent in just 5 minutes. When I am there, I have an escape route marked out in case of emergency. The culprit is rain, pouring down far upstream, out of sight of the falls.
When I was in Bisbee, Arizona, I was told of people who where found drowned in the desert. They were sleeping in an arroyo when rain from the mountains came rushing down. If you are in a narrow canyon with smooth walls, that is a clear sign that water rushes through there. Watch for signs - man-made and otherwise - of danger.
November 26, 2011 07:51 pm
I learned several lessons the hard way on the coast of Oregon at Hug Point (just outside Cannon Beach). Being from Michigan and spending my life around the great lakes, let's just say I am not used to tides and their schedules. I made the mistake of walking on the beach, venturing further out where the water receded and proceeded to take photos of some cliffs when I noticed (through my viewfinder, unfortunately), that the tide was coming in, and it was coming in fast. I started to run back towards the beach, but the water caught my legs and knocked me over, while I struggled to keep my camera (D700) out of the water. Broken ankle, broken camera. Three lessons learned: 1). Make sure insurance covers water damage, if not, pay the extra money for a policy, 2). Be ever mindful of your surroundings. I am now super careful where I step and don't go bounding around with no cares. 3). If you are shooting in an area with posted dangers, heed them. Those signs are not put up for decoration.
November 24, 2011 08:10 am
How many times I dropped my cam? When I read this I said "duh... None of course!" and then I remembered that I have actually submerged my point and shoot in to a little pond in a cave as I as trying to go over it -was shooting with it after 10 min and it actually worked fine-! And then I also remembered my self trying to catch wave blasts of the harbor from inside the car while it was pouring down and the cam got really wet from the open window. It's really easy to make a serious damage without actually noticing it until is too late.
November 21, 2011 11:32 pm
@dennis Wow the good news is that you got out in one piece and managed to capture the shots you were looking for. But bringing a friend is probably the most important part of venturing into the wilderness. Something as simple as a twisted ankle can really make it difficult to get back to safety without the help of another person.
@chris Glad to hear you had a friend there to keep you from jumping after it - just another example of why it's always good to have another set of eyes with you
November 21, 2011 08:48 am
I had an adventure in late September of this year. My wife and I went to Telluride, CO to visit with her cousin and do some landscape photograph. I decided to take a hike up to Bear Creek Falls while they did some shopping in Telluride. After a 2 hour hike, I finally got to the falls. The last 1/4 of a mile was very steep and rocky. I finished taking my silky water photos and reminded myself of the steep and rocky part. I put my camera around my neck, folded up my tripod and start back down using my tripod to help me keep my balance. Well, just as I was going to get out of the loose rocks, my tripod slipped and I lost my balance. I went head of heels for quite a ways and landed in bush looking up at the sky. Fortunately, the only thing that got hurt was my right knee and thigh. Of course, there was no one else around. I dusted myself off and started back down not looking forward to the two hour hike. Moral to the story ... don't go hiking by yourself!!!
Thanks again for the info!
November 19, 2011 07:25 pm
Hello, thanks for the information. It sure will make us more carefull :-)
November 19, 2011 05:49 pm
@Jasonadell That's why I never use a lens cap!
November 19, 2011 02:39 pm
I learned a valuable lesson last January about shooting in the snow. I had stopped at the marina at Jordan Harbour across Lake Ontario from Toronto. There had been a LOT of snow recently, but it had warmed up quite a bit, and the night before had been very cold again, giving a nice hard crust to the snow.
I followed a little path, and ended up quite far from the ice fishermen, I was trying to get a shot of a derelict ship rusting out just off shore. The path led over a little snow drift, but when I stepped onto the drift, I broke through the crust and sunk into the snow right up to my hips. Hmm, I thought. The drivers can't see me from the road. I'm too far away from the parking lot or the fishermen for anyone to hear me.
Luckily I had my camera on a strap around my neck (as always) and I had my tripod with me. I zipped my camera into my bag to protect it, then used my tripod to drag myself out of the drift.
The lesson here, I guess, is to beware of making assumptions about snow depth and suitability for walking!
Anyway, I like the shots I got, so I guess it was worth it.
November 19, 2011 02:27 am
I learned my lesson one cold October afternoon. Walking along a roaring set of rapids with several 5 metre drops, I was happily shooting. There was significant spray so I kept attaching and removing the lens cap. One time I fumbled with the cap, it went flying and I tried to catch it. My colleagues yelled at me to stop and fortunately all I lost was the cap. Since then I've dropped a camera into the wet along a river. Scratched the body but not myself. Hopefully the impulse to catch equipment will be lessened for a long time. No matter how expensive your gear is, saving it at your own peril is too high a price. Buy insurance instead.
November 19, 2011 12:38 am
A few years back I was out taking photographs of a massive storm system moving across the plains of Kansas when a Tornado touched down near my location. I snatched my camera off the tripod and ran for a near by ditch to take cover. I remember lying there thinking I might as well snap a few blind shots and see what turns out, too bad I still had the lens cap on. I did get some really good photographs after the Tornado cleared but I lost my Tripod.
November 18, 2011 11:43 pm
My son actually did drop his camera into the top of a waterfall - it was a video camera that had pretty much the whole of our holiday to Canada on it. Not only did he lose the camera, he lost the footage too - none of it had been downloaded to his PC. Not sure which he was most upset about, but I know it pretty much ruined his holiday. Worst of all, the camera was only a couple of months old - purchased specially for the trip, but do you think we could find the receipt? So not even an insurance claim out of it. Gutted!
So, if anyone finds a battered water-logged Sony Handycam at the bottom of some falls in Gatineau Park near Ottawa - it may well be my son's ;-D
November 18, 2011 10:49 pm
Good advice, think that's why I enjoy photographing people and portraits, good landscape photography is actually hard to master!
November 18, 2011 10:34 pm
I've been "lucky" enough that the worst that's happened was to lose a filter. However, that "luck" is mostly because although I am an artist/photographer, when I mountain hike I am a hiker first and I do all the things that a hiker does. Pack accordingly, prepare for all kinds of weather and circumstances and let people know where I am going and what routes I will be taking. After I have all my hiking gear set, then I work on getting my camera gear organized. Getting there is fun, but getting back is mandatory.
November 18, 2011 10:23 am
"They were posing for photographs, and according to some articles they invited their kids over, before one or more of them lost their footing and were swept over the 317-foot waterfall. "
November 18, 2011 09:51 am
@ratkellar I lol'd at the decide quickly whether to shoot video or take photos part. Any time there's action it's always one or the other, but I so badly want it to be both!
@Jennifer thanks! You have a beautiful waterfall photo there keep up the shooting!
@christopher oh no! I can't imagine the feeling of seeing your camera go flying thru the air. At least you're okay right? And you got the shot to boot!
@Paul - urban photography offers a whole set of new dangers! I'm so afraid of big cities - yikes.
@davesworld - when traveling overseas the importance is magnified for sure. You're often times in areas that have substandard emergency response AND not to mention that there most likely will be a language barrier between you and the people trying to help you - if they arrive....
@everyone else - thanks so much for all these comments keep em coming! I'll try and respond to as many as I can! I'm also slowly plowing through the various websites that have been linked and love what I'm seeing!
November 18, 2011 09:40 am
Broke my camera climbing to some rocks
November 18, 2011 09:37 am
At last -- someone mentioned the 10 essentials. BAckpacker.com or REI lists them. Backpacks save lives. Tell someone where you are going and ideally travel in 3s. Know your limitations. Remember that Mruphy wa san optimist. Spare bateries for flashlights are good. Cougars pounce from behind.
If you find yourself in a wildlife stampede, decide quickly whether to take photos or video. Being in tehmiddle of my labs chasing a herd of deer with fawns was mostly video'd. I did get to pet a fawn that decided I was a tree and to hide behind me.
November 18, 2011 07:05 am
I dropped 2 cell phones in my dads pond trying to get pics of the gold fish(it was almost exactly a year apart too:P) I've always been active and I get such a kick out of trying to get somewhere that few others would attempt for a photo. i have occasionally ended up with a soaker but no real damage. this summer I got lucky. I had my Nikon D5000 only about 2 inches above water level to get a cool view and a wave came up. washed over the lcd screen i had flipped down to see what i was doing and not one bit of water damage to the cam but I didn't hold it that low anymore...about an inch higher lol
a friend of my man said he was fishing with his dad and leaned over with his cam and something rocked the boat and he dropped it in...something like 300 ft of water.....
November 18, 2011 06:06 am
Nice post. I was just thinking about this topic when I went to Shenandoah National Park recently and photographed waterfalls and other various scenery that we had to hike to. Almost slipped on a wet sharp rock taking pics of the waterfalls.
November 18, 2011 05:24 am
Pack the 10 essentials no matter where you're headed. Pack a little go bag in your vehicle and take it with you.
November 18, 2011 05:11 am
Saw a great view - rushed to take it and my camera flew out of my hand and smashed on the road - got the shot, in spite of the lcd hanging off, but had to get the camera replaced as it was damaged beyond economical repair. Now I have a hand strap on the camera!
November 18, 2011 04:32 am
I have a subnote to the time danger. Many of the critters that can be a threat to humans are nocturnal and can be very active in the twilight time of day. Watch where you step and remember, if you hear a noise in the dark woods, something made it.
November 18, 2011 04:29 am
Even in an urban setting, it is important to be prepared for the unexpected. We had prepared to photograph a board of directors on a wooden ramp outdoors in early sunlight. After doing the usual adjustments so everyone could be seen, I bent to look in the viewfinder.
At that moment, the sprinkler system came on!
Because we had a time constrained shoot, I moved the group inside, pulled out my chromakey background and got the shot.
November 18, 2011 04:25 am
Good Advice in this article. . . . but I take exception with one thing. From the earliest, I've taken the thing about "shoot at dawn or at twilight" as the gospel truth. "Not any more". You may avoid some harsh shadows at dawn or dusk, but I've found that ("direction of the shot" being important here) it is difficult to avoid "sky blowout" at those hours. The camera is gonna meter for the landscape, which is - it is true - NOT bathed in "harsh daylight". However, that being said, that metering will force the sky to be blown out. I've used the graduated neutral density filters. . . .and even doubled-up on them. "No More !!!" . For the most part , I'm tired of "blown out sky", and I want the vibrant colors that "harsh daylight" can render. For waterfall shots and water shots - yes , I will always be on the scene at dawn or dusk. But for "general landscape" (rolling hills, etc, etc) , I want the beautiful blue sky, and I DON'T want to have to fake it with Photoshop. So in this regard, just don't get "glued down" to the "dawn or dusk mentality". It all depends on what KIND of landscape you're trying to capture.
November 18, 2011 04:24 am
As mentioned a couple times before, realize when out in the woods that you're in someone elses home. One very early morning while waking in a stand of Quakies, I stumbled upon a sleeping Momma and Baby Moose... Momma wasn't very happy about being woken up so early, and decided to make sure this interloper didn't bother her baby... Do you have any idea how difficult it is to photograph a running Moose when you have to hold the camera over your shoulder and run down a narrow path at the same time ??? I went back about 6 hours later to retrieve my camera bag - no sign of other Moosies that afternoon..
November 18, 2011 04:18 am
@Cris - You forgot to mention the twenty foot pythons that now inhabit the Everglades!!! Just watched a PBS story on them and I don't want any part of that.
In my area in Missouri they have been getting a lot of bear sightings, so now I have to put Bear Repellant on my belt when out in the woods. One does not wish to stumble into a spot where you are between Mama Bear and Cubs!!! I just keep hoping to get a clean, safe shot of them soon.
Really it boils down to knowing the area. If you are new, find a guide from there or at least talk to some hunters and ask what they know about the area. Hunting forums on the net can often give a little free advice also.
November 18, 2011 03:57 am
A danger that I faced one time was that I was hiking up in the Adorondak mountains of NY state where I was photographing the scenery up there. I was above the tree line where a thunderstorm rolled in fast. My friend and I started running down the trail where we found a cave. We went into the cave to escape the storm. Inside the cave was a bear cub. We both looked at each other and decided that it was safer out in the storm.
Five minutes later we heard mommy. We then saw her and she went into the cave and stayed with her cub.
We did not take any pictures of the bear. Too busy running.
November 18, 2011 03:37 am
I am fortunate to live near the Canadian Rockies and go there as often as I can in all seasons. Be prepared is the motto (Boy Scouts again!). While I may hike on my own, I always have enough gear to survive everything from mosquito and bear attacks to cold as depicted in the Day After Tomorrow! I am stunned to see hikers in the high passes in the summer in shorts, a T-shirt, a camera and maybe a small water bottle. I have been caught in bad weather that kicks up in an instant with complete whiteouts. These people would be in extremely bad shape in such cases.
Having said all that, the best landscape photos I have made have been through effort - you have to be there to get the shot. Great images are rarely grab shots. So far, I have only capsized in a canoe with my photo gear in it (successfully retrieved it, put it on a rock in the hot sun to dry out and it continued to work for years - obviously not digital!) and slipped on wet rocks by a waterfall and bashed the camera (same one) - again it survived with a dented top and so did I.
November 18, 2011 03:37 am
When traveling overseas, the importance of all these points is amplified. In many less-developed nations emergency medical care is non-existent or insufficient. I live in the Andes mountains of Ecuador and have had several close-calls while photographing landscapes. This one of a system of high mountain lakes shows a little grass in the foreground. That grass is the edge of a 1000' cliff. Definitely a place to pay attention and make slow deliberate moves.
November 18, 2011 03:36 am
When traveling overseas, the importance of all these points is amplified. In many less-developed nations emergency medical care is non-existent or insufficient. I live in the Andes mountains of Ecuador and have several close-calls while photographing landscapes. This one of a system of high mountain lakes shows a little grass in the foreground. That grass is the edge of a 1000' cliff. Definitely a place to pay attention and make slow deliberate moves.
November 18, 2011 03:32 am
Nice article. There have been many times when I decided to take a shot and nature screwed it up. I guess it's one of the attributes of Belgian weather. I can't agreed more with the point 3; Most of the people come across some landscape shots and wish they could have been there.......the one who explored got the shot.
Adding one example from my side for point 3. Although it's not a landscape shot but when I took it my friends grabbed me by my legs and I was hanging outside facing a 2000 feet drop. Here is the shot....
November 18, 2011 03:21 am
Another possible danger is wildlife. I live in the Sonoran desert. Last summer I was scanning the sky while hiking out for sunset shots and found myself next to a pair of large Sonoran Gopher snakes. These are not venomous, but they can still bite. We have Rattlesnakes here, too, as well as scorpions, Brown Recluse, and Black Widows. Once while shooting in Sedona, Arizona I sat on a rock to get the perfect shot and almost sat on a scorpion. In the desert, especially in summer, it's important to bring a walking stick to check rocks and brush, and to watch the ground.
November 18, 2011 03:17 am
Ants have taught me to look at my feet before setting up a shot. Fire ants in Texas can do some miserable work on the flesh in mere seconds, and Utah's gignormous ants can get into bodily places that prove quite indelicate.
November 18, 2011 03:17 am
Ants have taught me to look at my feet before setting up a shot. Fire ants in Texas can do some miserable work on the flesh in mere seconds, and Utah's gignormous ants can get into bodily places that prove quite indelicate.
November 18, 2011 03:10 am
Be careful when you step backwards for a better shot, always look what is behind you... My dad was lucky when he tripped and fell on his behind close to the egde of a cliff, rubber boots contributed to the fall.
if you like costal or rough seas landscape, always be aware of high tides. I was lucky that someone warned me of the impending high tides at Bondi beach, i would have been trapped on the big rocks.
November 18, 2011 02:39 am
Ha! Thanks for the mention man :)
Nice write up. I can't tell you how many times I have almost dropped my precious into the ocean or a marshy wetland! I think you do need to always be aware of where you are and what you are doing first and foremost.
November 18, 2011 02:13 am
Some of the best photos I have ever taken were during a downpour that made all the other photographers scatter.
November 18, 2011 02:05 am
I haven't had too many mishaps save one. While checking out the festival of colors here in my home town with my mother I had my tripod in hand with camera attached. We were making out way downhill when I stepped on a rock surface and slipped. Luckily the only damage was to the ND filter that was attached to the lens. As mentioned in the article, making sure of your footing is quite important. Things could have gone far worse for me, I could have ended up needing to replace a lense but thankfully they didn't.
November 18, 2011 12:02 am
Done some stupid things!
This one, I stood on a rocky outcrop, misread the tide times tables and got stuck 100 yards from the shore. I had to run back through 2 feet of freezing cold North Sea water. My boots got soaked and took me 2 days to dry them out! Some local guy saw me running through the tide and pissed himself laughing, he told me that if I had left it about 20 mins later I would have been stuck the rock for the next 7 hours until the tide went back out!
I stood on the edge of a set of rocks waiting for the tide to recede, the wind is hitting about 20 mph at this point and I am holding a tiny umberella to shield the camera from it and nearly being pulled 6 feet down into the swirling sea below and behind! I think it was worth it.
The best shots are the ones you have to work for, they really mean something if you pull them off. At the weekend I was shooting a rocky coast in the sunshine about 300 feet above a drop into the sea and I slipped and I landed on my arse on a set of thistles that took 24 hours to stop stinging! The shots are OK but I know what they took to get so I am keeping them as a reminder of how stupid I am in the pursuit of a shot.
I know my limits, if it looks too dangerous then you have stop yourself. There are some shots that never will be, as they are simply too dangerous to even try.
November 17, 2011 11:16 pm
@photomiser - I know right? Geeze who woulda thought things would be so dangerous
@reid - oh no! Sometimes I feel like in the process of saving our precious gear we end up hurting ourselves further. Sorry to hear about your shoulder, but glad to hear that that's all that was effected.
@Chris - Lol. I feel like the Everglades is a place that I'd be afraid to photograph! You forgot giant and starving mosquitos ;0
November 17, 2011 08:06 pm
Just found a photo of the rock that he must have hung on to.
November 17, 2011 07:19 pm
Good article, enjoyed it, but I have to say most of my near misses with equipment have been at home. My biggest risk factor is my three year old daughter!
November 17, 2011 07:18 pm
Great and here is what can happen if you want that great shoot and end up having to be rescued by helicopter.
It's in German but here the basic facts:
a German tourist was taking photos at the Krimmler waterfalls in Austria and was not carefull whilest taking his photos at the upper fall and slipped on the stones ending up in the water. He was dragged down towards the lower fall and managed to cling on to the rock untill he was winched out by helicopter. You can see this on the video.
It just underlines how carefull you have to be. If your not sure don't try.
My photos from the Krimmler Watrfalls last year:
November 17, 2011 06:45 pm
Taking night shots here where I live is dangerous itself. I mean, of course there aren't a lot of timing dangers, the terrain is unpredictable if you've never been here before. And the weather is usually bipolar (if you know what I mean) and unpredictable. But living in the Philippines is pretty nice, except for the bipolar weather problem!
November 17, 2011 04:34 pm
After all this, I'm tempted to never leave my back yard. Except my backyard has ticks.
November 17, 2011 02:34 pm
Yep, been there. I slipped on a rock as well. Saved the camera but not my shoulder. Had surgery after PT didn't fix it. My girls were with me and learned several new bad words that day.
November 17, 2011 02:27 pm
Alligators, panthers, lightning, heat stroke, and dehydration await the unwary Everglades photographer during the summer. In the winter, the lighting and alligators are less of a worry...
November 17, 2011 01:14 pm
I recently have had such an accident. While in Utah, two weekends ago, my camera, a D700 with a Zeiss lens, a Lee Filter Ring and a Really Right Stuff L bracket fell into the Virgin River. I've had a few close calls but never really thought this would happen. I switched to a the sun sniper camera strap which attaches to the bottom of the camera instead of your traditional straps which attach in two places. So I had no camera strap because I was attaching it to my tripod. I was in a crowded spot, about 30 other photographers were there so space was limited. I placed myself on a rock, set up my tripod, and went to place my camera in the tripod. It slipped, fell on to the rock, then slid and went POLP/GULP down into the river.
I had made a call to my insurance company the month before and they told me it would be covered by such accidents, but I was provided with the wrong information. They denied my claim. And now I am emotionally drained after hours of phone calls pleading for them to reconsider. They admitted there was a miscommunication and they do not have the conversation recorded to review it, so it is my word against their agent's. If I had know it was not covered, we probably would have gotten a wet suit and gone for a dive to recover the bracket and ring (worth $200). The water was cold, deep, and moving fast. No one really seemed to care around me after I cursed a bit, cried and was at a loss at what to do. Everyone was too busy bracketing their shots and pressing the shutter. My loving and supportive husband drove around Utah until we found a camera. We found probably the only Nikon around in Utah (D5100) which is now our back up camera. I had to buy a new tripod head too... So I lost the camera, then bought a lot of gear I really didn't need.
So a few lessons. If you really don't think you are going to get a decent shot, don't risk putting yourself in a precarious situation. If you aren't a morning person (I am not) take it easy, don't push yourself if you are tired. Also, have a strap or something on your camera at all times, it's one more thing to grab when it starts to fall. Get ADDITIONAL insurance! For about 200 a year, get A SEPARATE INSURANCE policy. Do not rely on Home Owners, it won't be covered, even if some agent says "Yes,if you drop if off a cliff it is covered, you have covered of up to 70% of your home value on personal property". Don't believe him. Unless the river steals the camera, which it essentially did, you will be out of luck.
So I bought a used d700 this week and a used lens and paid much more that what I paid for it, yes, only a year ago :(
I've had a few close calls, but never really thought about how I would feel. I don't think you can every really know. Most lessons are learned in life are by making mistakes.
Another danger, is your tripod. I have a large tripod and it fits into the side pocket of my KATA backpack. I clearly was not having a good week, I slipped on a rock and my tripod head clobbered me in the head. A huge bump that is finally going away.
Who knew landscape photography could be so dangerous!
We are going back next year, and maybe we will take the plunge into the river!
November 17, 2011 10:38 am
@Eric. Hmmm, You sound like the guy who plans everything and then slips on a wet rock and breaks his leg several miles from anywhere, or loses a ski and doesn't have the ability to ski on one ski. Best laid plans of mice and men ... Sometimes, Mother Nature is not a nice lady.
November 17, 2011 09:52 am
My father-in-law is a nature photographer. He fell two years ago while out at a waterfall alone. It took search and rescue 20 hours to find and extract him. He had a Spot GPS unit that saved his life.
November 17, 2011 09:34 am
@Doug - That's a very nicely thought out list of hints. There have been a few occasions where I think long and hard about whether or not I'll be able to climb back up from where I want to take the photo. I'm usually more on the conservative side as the last thing I want is to be spending the night trapped in the woods without food or water.
@Karen That's really sad. One thing that I didn't add to this post which is a real danger in the hunting season is to make sure you're wearing bright colors. A photographer was shot and killed over the weekend in New Hampshire while out in the wilderness. I can't even begin to imagine what the hunter is thinking now. :(
November 17, 2011 09:24 am
You make a sunday countryside walk sound worse than covering the war in Irak. Come on, a bit of common sense is all you need when preparing for a shoot. Checking the weather conditions on the net and having the right clothes on is no rocket science. Not having fully charged batteries, and extra memory cards, now, THAT is scary and dangerous...
November 17, 2011 08:46 am
Yes, please be careful and pay attention to what you're doing. It was only a year ago that a young man died at Crabtree Falls, Nelson Co., VA while taking a photo. I'm sure there are many, many others. I've even heard it called "Death By Photography."
November 17, 2011 08:35 am
Even the best planning possible cannot prevent an accident. I have my own event happen to me while photographing next to a stream. While moving from one side of the stream to another, I slipped on a rock. While looking up to catch myself, I saw the end of a broken branch heading straight for my eye. The branch was a little less than half inch in diameter. The next half second took a lifetime to complete. Fortunately the end of the branch hit the edge of my eye socket and slid to the outside scratching my temple. I was very lucky and I do not believe any planning in the world could have prevented the accident. Things happen.
November 17, 2011 08:15 am
A few other hints:
* Many of the prettiest landscape shots are in valleys and canyons. Do not expect your GPS to be able to give you a location when you're between steep rock walls. Your GPS needs to be able to see multiple satellites simultaneously, and that usually can't happen in canyon country.
* Do not count on your cell phone to summon help when you're beating the bush. Even if your GPS is working, so you know where you are, it's likely that you won't have a cellphone signal.
* Never go down something you're not sure you can get back up. It's pretty easy to find yourself at the bottom of a cliff with nowhere to go.
* Never go off the beaten paths without being able to survive the night, even if the weather goes to heck. If you sprain your ankle or break your leg, you might well not be able to get anywhere before help arrives. Out here in the mountain west of the US, the temperature might well drop 50 degrees F (almost 30 degrees C) between day and night. Clothing that's great for a warm spring day doesn't work quite so well when the temperature drops below freezing.
* Finally, an uncompensated commercial: If you're going to be walking on snowy or muddy trails (especially mountain trails), your footing is going to be sketchy at best. When I was at Bryce Canyon this spring, the rangers recommended a product called YakTrax, which are basically chains for your hiking boots. When you're standing on a snowy trail at the edge of a 300' (100m-ish) drop, they're the greatest thing ever invented. 8-)
November 17, 2011 07:42 am
For me it is my tendency to venture too close to the alligator filled ponds to catch the perfect shot of 'The Big One" all while my hubby is having a nervous breakdown behind me. I have fallen a couple times, but manage to protect my camera and take the brunt of impact with my body. My body didn't much appreciate it and let me know by not allowing me to walk for about 2 weeks.
November 17, 2011 07:22 am
On a side note about dangerous surroundings I want to add roofs and rooftops.
@trevor states, "moving about while looking only through the viewfinder. Because the field of view is usually quite different from what your naked eye sees you can walk into (or off of) things before you realize ..."
I want to add when on a roof even a step back could result in death. It has happened too many times.
November 17, 2011 07:17 am
@casey - OH MY!
@joann - Wow! Must've been cool to see them non-the-less. And yes I guess the wildlife sort of slipped my mind when I was writing this article. After all we're invading their homes when we go to take these photos its their right to defend themselves!
@mike - I'd love to be able to camp out overnight, but being completely reliant on having to get to my job in the morning it's just not something I can do every so often, I'm lucky enough if I can hike to a location before sunset these days let alone hike back. I hate these 4pm sunsets here in new england this time of year.
November 17, 2011 07:10 am
As a former wilderness educator leading groups on backpacking trips, Id have to add that having some kind of wilderness experience and comfort, right clothing, etc is an essential part of being a smart landscape photographer.
If I was doing golden hour photos, If possible I would camp out near the location as not to have to do any dangerous hiking in the dark whether in the morning or evening unless the terrain was pretty level.
November 17, 2011 07:03 am
I agree with all of these points, for sure. I'd also add to be aware of knowing about the animals that are in the area you want to photograph. I was shocked one morning when I nearly stumbled upon some wild foxes at my beloved park during some sunrise photography...luckily they were across a little lake and more interested in trying (unsuccessfully) to pounce on some ducks.
November 17, 2011 07:02 am
I was wandering along the Oregon coast one (reasonably) nice day, tripping lightly over rocks and around tidepools, photographing this and that...and here I was on the trail of the perfect shot--and I slipped and fell. Managed to save the camera, but broke my wrist (needed two pins in it), and bruised my backside! Didn't get that perfect shot either. Sigh....
Now I am very careful where I put my feet (and yes, I've also been guilty of looking through the viewfinder and ignoring the world around me). I may miss some "perfect" shots, but I haven't broken any more bones or equipment either!
November 17, 2011 06:39 am
Don't forget about the Lions, Tigers, and Bears!
November 17, 2011 05:52 am
I take a lot of family photos while skiing. I have dropped my camera in the snow on several occasions. Fortunately, it was cold enough and I was able to blow the snow off of my camera without any future ramifications. If you are shooting in the winter, it is a good idea to have a bulb to blow off any unmelted snow, a good glass cloth to GENTLY wipe off moisture and an unending amount of luck (along with a good neck strap ... that you should use!). I keep my camera under my parka when skiing and I have been able to ski some steep and deep areas in some hairy conditions without any moisture problems ... unless i got careless.
November 17, 2011 05:21 am
@Jason - Mosquitoes are such an annoyance! I always carry deep woods off with me whenever I venture out into the forests for these kinds of shots. It doesn't necessary protect me 100%, but without it I'd become dinner.
November 17, 2011 04:49 am
This is a great article. I'm fortunate enough to live in an area of the US with a lot of waterfalls and trails to explore. The tips you've provided are great.
I've only been doing photography for a short time, so my time on the trails with camera in hand are limited for now, and I have yet to have any experiences with darkness, or dropping my camera into the drink.
November 17, 2011 03:56 am
Just goes to show that with any type of photography, landscape or otherwise, proper planning is key to making an outstanding shot.
I found this small waterfall after about a 1.5 mile hike and suffered multiple mosquito bites as I stopped to make this shot which I made available as a free wallpaper:
This waterfall is near Rainbow Springs in Florida.
November 17, 2011 02:56 am
@trevor - I'm always doing that! I really am so into trying to get the right composition that I forget how different the world is when looking through a wide angle lens.
@Erik That's an amazing waterfall! I hope to be able to travel outside of the southern New England area sometime next year to get some more monstrous falls. Not that the small one's aren't beautiful in their own right.
Thanks for the comments guys! :)
November 17, 2011 02:28 am
I would have to agree with timing and terrain. We got totally soaked from head to toe when shooting Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite National Park. We scoped it in the morning but had to wait until the sun would allow a rainbow later during the day - of course the wind now drove the mist towards us. It was like being in a Monsoon. Not to say it was not fun, but there was some harzard.
November 17, 2011 02:28 am
A comical yet potentially dangerous mistake I have made a few times is moving about while looking only through the viewfinder. Because the field of view is usually quite different from what your naked eye sees you can walk into (or off of) things before you realize. I've done this with an ultra-wide angle lens, completely not realizing how close I was to a rock ledge and almost fell. Thankfully it would have only been a few feet, but...
Also, watch out for animals. Most animals that can be of harm are often out during those same magical hours that photographers are.
November 17, 2011 02:03 am
@Mario I agree a lot of these Dangers can easily be mitigated with careful planning and research, but it's important to realize they are present before even beginning the planning stages of a trip. Without the knowledge that things like these exist it's easy to overlook them when in the planning stages.
Also, in my experience, a lot of the more remote areas get weak to no cell signal so it's much better to grab a gps device than to rely on a smart phone.
And yes having a little boy scout in you definitely does help ;)
November 17, 2011 01:54 am
I was not so lucky :( Well I was not doing anything dangerous, I was just walking on the sea shore at Havelock, India when a coral poked in my heels and I tripped with my Canon D350 and a brand new Sigma 70-300. I now have a Canon D550. I was on the shore to catch the sunrise http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2011/10/skywatch-friday-sunrise-at-havelock-andaman-islands.html
And then almost while trying to click a waterfall in Himachal Pradesh India. http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/2011/10/a-waterfall-near-prini-himachal-pradesh.html
So next time before you wish to leap to the next stone, think.
November 17, 2011 01:34 am
I think some of the dangers mentioned can be mitigated by being calculating and deliberate while planning, traveling and shooting. Haste leads to carelessness, which can lead to accidents or being ambushed by a weather system. If you have a smartphone and a cell signal you should be checking weather conditions periodically, especially during unsettled weather. Shooting with a partner can also be helpful. I always carry a Leatherman-type multitool, small flashlight and disposable poncho in my camera bag. (Can you tell I was a Boy Scout?)
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