I prefer to have an assistant at my photography sessions. An assistant saves time and effort. Something I appreciate. I arranged for an assistant at this photo session but my assistant didn't show. I should have prepared for the possibility of a no-show. That was reckless. You think I would have learned to be prepared by age 60. Maybe not.
Let's take a look at this session with an assistant in mind. If my assistant was present, I would not need to leave my camera position and walk atop the stone wall surrounding the small pool that supplies the waterfall, duck under a low hanging tree branch, drop down off the wall several feet onto gnarled tree roots, duck under another low hanging tree branch, across very soft wet grass to the model to rearrange her wardrobe or top off the poison in the bowl. Only to return via the same route. Knowing I didn't have an the assistant, I kept my trips to a minimum. But wish I had made more adjustments to the wardrobe, props and reflector. But, I had to compromise.
Once I felt I had enough exposures at scene one, Mana and I decided to move on to scene two, the falls. Here again an assistant would help with moving equipment and props. An assistant would also help keep the scene safe.
I am always thinking of safety. I served on the safety committee for 25 of the 34 year construction job. I especially didn't want Mana to be injured. To help Mana to the top of the falls, I put my camera down in the grass and walked around the stone wall at the top of the falls to her location, the brightly lit grassy spot in the above image. I led Mana over the wet grass, under the low hanging branch, over the gnarled tree roots, under another low tree branch, up onto the stone wall and around to that stone on the right of the falls, as seen above. She took position there and knowing she was safe, I returned to my camera. Then I proceeded to the grassy area seen in foreground above.
I made close to 100 exposures with Mana on top of the same rock when she expressed a desire to move down to a lower rock. I agreed but was apprehensive of the possible danger with such a move. Again, I didn't want her to get hurt. Pain is not a pleasant experience. Not in my experience. Of the thirty-four years I worked in construction, I lost a full two years to work place injuries that resulted in broken bones, lacerations, torn cartilage and ligaments. I didn't want my beautiful young model to experience that because of something I could prevent. So, I put my camera down on the grass and carefully looked down as I stepped out across the wet rocks in the stream to help Mana move down 3'- 4' to a lower wet rock. She made it down as sure footed as a mountain goat. I turned again looking down, I carefully stepped back across the tops of the wet rocks in the stream, took up my camera and continued making digital exposures.
Once I saw Mana in the new position, new ideas for poses emerged in my head. I now needed to change my position to get lower, higher, wider or closer points of view.
For one of my images I needed to cross the wet rocks again to change my point of view. I didn't put the camera down on the grass this time because I needed it to make more exposures. I looked down at the stream bed and made the correct choices as I carefully stepped across the wet rocks to change my position. I exposed another twenty or thirty images from that point of view. At that point I had the images I imagined and decided to return to the grass for a more distant point of view. Without looking down (this is the place to mutter under your breath, your choice of derogatory terms) I turned slipped and lost my balance.
I wish I had a video camera set up to record my photography adventure. I surely would have won the $10,000.00 in the weekly Americas' Funniest Home Videos contest. I must have looked ridiculous.
As I fell, several thoughts raced through my mind like two motorcyclists in a steel globe at the circus. The preeminent thought was to protect my camera. A new camera cost about $2,000.00. Money I don't have. My youngest is in college and I still have co-signed loans I am paying off for my eldest. Another thought was that at this moment I have a model in front of me and I wish to continue with this photo session. Thoughts I placed in the rear of my steel globe were thoughts of pain, swelling, broken bones and blood with the need for ice to follow. I knew they would make themselves known without any thinking on my part and I hate ice.
The injuries started when my right inner thigh smashed into a rock just above my knee. The very same spot that has bunched muscles from a job site fall with an extension ladder that also bunched the muscle in my upper-outer thigh of the same leg. I then bumped the outside of my left calf near the shin bone on a totally different rock. That resulted in an abrasion. But by far, my right elbow took the hardest impact with several lacerations that continued down my forearm.
Let's step back a moment and I will try and paint this picture. There I was, on my back above the steam on several large wet rocks trying to keep my water splashed camera out of the muck. Think of a 60 year old khaki turtle, on its back with two water soluble thousand dollar bills which he needs for groceries, in its right front claw. His shell is glistening with pond water and spotted with slime, moss and aquatic animal excretions. That was me.
Immediately, Mana let out a gasp followed instantaneously with an inquiry as to my health. Me being stoic, my sore knee jerk response was, "I'm alright. I'm OK. I'm wet and conscious and no blood. I'm OK."
Actually, I wasn't alright. My elbow hurt and I thought it might be bleeding and or broken, at least chipped. I got to my feet from the embarrassing position and onto the grass, with the grace of an upside-down turtle righting itself. I used the bandana that I always carry to wipe my elbow. There were no visible blood stains. I wiped the pond water, teaming with life, from my arms, hands, face and head. The bandana is no towel and left my skin damp and pants, shirt and shoes soaking wet. I went back to the task at hand, for I still had 2 GB of memory and three hours of sun remaining.
Maybe, this would not have happened if an assistant were present. Maybe not. Looking back over my life I tend to be reckless with my own safety. You would think that by age 60, I would have learned to be less reckless. Maybe not.