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06-04-2018, 01:15 PM - 5 Likes   #1
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Photography Safety

This is intended to be a reminder to be safe and practice situational awareness. Weather, terrain, and other factors can turn a photoshoot into disaster. I'm reminded of the need to be safe based on this unfortunate news about a deceased photographer. It is *not* intended as a criticism. Photographer Killed After Getting Swept Away In Philly Creek | Philadelphia, PA Patch

Many of us have done things that, on more careful analysis after the fact, were risky. I'm going to share some of my mistakes so others are less likely to repeat them. I've never been injured on a photo excursion, in part because I prepare, but I've also gotten lucky that none of my errors have turned to disaster.

- Water bottle fell on a desert hike. I instinctively grabbed it while it was still bouncing around, sticking my hand between rocks. I know snakes and other biting/stinging critters often seek shade under rocks but in this case my reflexes were faster than my conscious brain. I should have let the bottle come to rest and patiently used a rope, belt, or tripod leg to fish it out.

- Exploring abandoned luxury hotel. I carefully watched the floor and ceiling for hazards and got the photo I wanted. On the walk out, I spotted obvious evidence of a weak floor that I missed on the way in. I could have fallen through a weak floor, or had a smaller trip and been spiked by splintered wood or rusted nails.

- Solo hiking. I have more endurance than my wife, and other hiking partners don't have patience to wait when I want to pause for landscape photos. I manage the risk by telling my wife when I should return. My mistake? I went hiking when she was out of town and forgot to leave word with anyone else. If I slipped and broke a leg, I would have been missing for days before anyone realized.

- Night photography. I try to bring at least 3 light sources (headlamp, flashlight, phone) in case something breaks or batteries die unexpectedly. I also carry extra food and an emergency blanket in case I get stuck outside all night. My mistake? I sometimes haven't researched the local wildlife risks adequately.

Be safe!

06-04-2018, 01:28 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I had a buddy in the Army who was an avid hikers and still ended up burying himself in leaves while sleeping along a trail that was not the one they thought it was. He said he was chilly, but better to sleep rather than try to hike on a mountain path in the dark and die.
06-04-2018, 01:59 PM - 2 Likes   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by SSGGeezer Quote
I had a buddy in the Army who was an avid hikers and still ended up burying himself in leaves while sleeping along a trail that was not the one they thought it was. He said he was chilly, but better to sleep rather than try to hike on a mountain path in the dark and die.
Nine days ago my wife and I were hiking in a Canadian National Park near sunset. At one point we crossed a road, but stayed on the path; we should have taken the road back to our car, because the path got us back just barely before true dark {i.e., it was after sunset, but we could still make out the path}. We dodged a bullet on that one - we should have known better, and we agreed that we wouldn't pull that stunt again.
06-04-2018, 01:59 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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Custer Battlefield. Walked up the embankment next to the road as my wife wanted a snap of a wildflower. Coming back down stepped into a hole and hobbled for a month which included a trip to the emergency room a few days after the incident when my leg swelled. We all know to be careful but maybe a reminder is not a bad idea.

06-04-2018, 02:22 PM - 2 Likes   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
This is intended to be a reminder to be safe and practice situational awareness. Weather, terrain, and other factors can turn a photoshoot into disaster.
Be safe!
Excellent reminder, as I think many of us let our guard down in the summer months. In Hawaii the main hazards are turning your back on the ocean, wrong place wrong time with illegal drug users, and taking risks on difficult trails (a.k.a. gravity).

One tragedy happened to a fellow photographer, biologist, educator:
David Boynton - Wikipedia

Another tragedy to an ex-student who got lost hiking in the mountains and also perished in a fall. The family found his water damaged film camera, and developed the film and made a book about his short but full life and his love of the forest and photography. I saw it for many months at Costco called "Danʻs Views".

And then another photographer friend who loved the ocean, worked with dolphins at SeaWorld, drowned while snorkeling in Maui.

We photographers tend to go solo when we go out shooting, but if there is the potential for danger, a buddy can make all the difference.
06-04-2018, 02:55 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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Just yesterday I was hiking solo (as I often do) in the Black Canyon and it was no big deal. At least not until I was trying to get over this rock outcropping to continue my relatively flat hike along the river. After I was a couple hundred feet up on a precariously loose and slippery trail next to a big cliff I came to my senses when I realized I was maybe only half way over my obstacle and it was starting to rain, making the lichen and moss covered rocks slippery. I grabbed a few photos for my efforts and carefully backed back down to the river's edge and decided I need to tackle that route another day and maybe with some company (although my wife would not be into this trail!).
Sometimes you don't realize a hazard until it's an immediate threat!
06-04-2018, 03:08 PM - 3 Likes   #7
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Remember, a photograph is not worth your life!
06-04-2018, 03:18 PM - 1 Like   #8
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"Off the beaten path" is not the only place you need to keep your wits about you. I was taking photography classes in Denver Colorado in 1980. Was doing some night shooting downtown near the bus station and got jumped by two guys trying to steal my camera. Suffered some bruises but kept my Olympus OM -1n.


Last edited by DW58; 06-04-2018 at 03:35 PM.
06-04-2018, 03:38 PM - 1 Like   #9
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In my younger days I twice had close calls with alligators while photographing bird rockeries in the swamps of Louisianna. Both times, my steel Gitzo tripod legs were all that stood between me and the beast.
06-04-2018, 03:42 PM - 4 Likes   #10
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I forgot to say keep it in perspective. All activities have risks. The risks of INactivity are heart disease and diabetes.

Driving my car to a trailhead is probably more dangerous than the hike.
06-04-2018, 03:54 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by DeadJohn Quote
I forgot to say keep it in perspective. All activities have risks. The risks of INactivity are heart disease and diabetes.

Driving my car to a trailhead is probably more dangerous than the hike.
You sound like me!
I often get told I'm crazy or reckless for some of the things I like to do and that "driving to the trailhead" one is a favorite response!
06-04-2018, 04:11 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattb123 Quote
You sound like me!
I often get told I'm crazy or reckless for some of the things I like to do and that "driving to the trailhead" one is a favorite response!
Same thing I tell people who are afraid of flying,the trip to the airport is by far the riskiest part.
06-04-2018, 04:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by timb64 Quote
Same thing I tell people who are afraid of flying,the trip to the airport is by far the riskiest part.
You're probably more likely to step out of the shower, slip, smash head on toilet and exsanguinate than you are to die on a aeroplane.
06-04-2018, 04:53 PM - 1 Like   #14
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With Algoqnuin Park, more people die coming and going form the park in car accidents than die in accidents in the park, every year. Our biggest and most occurring catastrophe waiting to happen, is misjudging hike times and ending up hiking after dark.
06-04-2018, 05:37 PM - 2 Likes   #15
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This was late 70's, so way back. Friend and I went off on foot in Washington D.C. shooting street scenes. Didn't think to pay attention to who was paying attention to us. Retrospectively, I think I saw the guy who held us up at gun point about 30 minutes before he pulled the gun on us. Pretty sure he scoped us out and waited until we were in a somewhat secluded place. It was a kinder/gentler D.C. back then, and he was content with my K1000 and my friend's camera too (can't remember what my friend was shooting - as I think about it, may actually have been a K1000 too). He asked what was in the knapsack I had. I replied hat and gloves. That was true, but I left out mentioning my 50mm and 28mm, which I still have. He let me keep the knapsack. Can't believe I didn't just hand it to him. KInda can't believe the whole thing went down. So, situational awareness and not getting oneself in to secluded spots with lots of gear are high on my list of cautions.

Last edited by clickclick; 06-04-2018 at 06:29 PM.
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