Monday, November 13, 2006

Bugs 30 - Me 1

I just had to try it again - getting sunset photos I mean.

Here in Buttonwood Bay we get wonderful sunsets every evening and the last time I walked down to the lake side to take some photos, I was bitten about 30 times for my troubles and few of the photos were worth keeping anyway.

A couple of weeks have passed since that traumatic incident and so with the bites only remaining as scars now, I thought I'd try again and keep moving this time. No long time delayed shots !

On the way to the lake, which is all of 30 secs away by bike, I had to pass by the area where several outdoor events take place daily - like shuffleboard, bocce ball and so on. Oh by the way, we tried bocce ball yesterday and loved it but more of that in my next post. There is also a large grassy area along the edge of the lake with picnic tables and yesterday while playing bocce ball, we were 'treated' to a karaoke session which was different to say the least.

Anyway, as I made my way across to the lake, I noticed several squirrels doing their thing around these picnic tables and the trees that shaded them. They were not in the least bit shy or timid and I soon remembered the note in the weekly park newsletter which warned us not to feed these critters as they were becoming pests.

But they also presented good photo opportunities and I just had to crouch down and give the impression I was offering them food and they'd appear from all sides and approach me.

As this photo shows, they showed no fear and the rapidly setting sun helped to transform a standard shot into something quite different. Not beautiful, but different. You can clearly see the structure of it's tail for one thing.

Suddenly it was like a bizarre version of Hitchcock's 'The Birds' with squirrels replacing the threatening birds. I was quickly surrounded and of course you never know how far a hungry and fearless squirrel will go to get some food and how cheesed off they'd become when they realised that no food was forthcoming. I had to keep moving and looking all around me but in any case, this was what I needed to do to avoid being bitten by the more annoying flying critters.

With one eye on the setting sun and the other watching my ankles, I took a few shots of the squirrels and was glad I'd not taken the telephoto lens as they were getting too close to me for that lens to be of any use. When they realised I was not a walking food dispenser, they'd sit nearby and just watch me. Maybe they thought I'd whip out something tasty if they sat long enough - i wasn't going to do so but theur actions meant good posing shots for me. They were obviously well fed squirrels as the next photo shows...............

By now the sun was almost on the horizon so I had to leave and walk the few feet to the edge of the lake.

There were a couple of other residents out with their cameras and we chatted for a few minutes between shots. As usual I was the only one having to do the 'dance of the biting insects' and it never ceases to amaze me why I'm the sole target for every biting thing within a hundred yards of wherever I am.

Maybe it's time to swap my deoderant for bug spray on these occasions and you may well ask why I don't use insect repellant in the first place. I've tried everything on the market and nothing works. I just end up smelling obnoxious to other humans but strangly inviting to anything that flies.

I'd almost left it too late to get any shots of the sunset as it sets here with a speed that would leave a UK sprinter gasping. I got into position and had to do just about everything that any instruction manual tells you NOT to do when taking photos. Legs open for stability ? Elbows tucked into torso to lessen camera shake ? Hand on lens for rock steady shots ? Sorry but I'd done all that last time and the mozzies had eaten me alive. This time I was like a photographer with ADD or a finalist on that reality dancing show with my camera as my partner. I just hope no one had a camcorder trained on me as my bottom half was doing a crazed tango while my top half was trying to remain steady long enough to take some sort of focused shot of the sunset.

I'd already decided that some sort of post production editing would be needed, if only to straighten the horizon, but I was pleased to get this one shot which needed no such alterations.

About 2 seconds later the sun dropped out of sight and this time I didn't hang around for any post sunset shots - I was on my bike and out of there for the relatively safety of the trailer faster than you could say 'squirrel nuts'.

To adapt the old saying, once bitten, several times shy.

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