I was out renewing my driver’s license back in early February, and of course it took much longer than I expected, which caused me to drive home late in the afternoon. I noticed the sky, which had been cloudy all day, was just beginning to clear along the western horizon, and I immediately started driving with a bit more purpose in order to get home, collect my gear and head to the lake for the possibility of a good sunset. I rushed to a spot I knew would face west, parked the car along the road and started hiking through the woods to get to the water’s edge. As I walked, I began to envision what the image might look like. Even though the lake was not very wide at that point, I figured to use a wide-angle lens to make the opposite shore appear much further away than it really was and include as much sky as possible, and I would need a split neutral density filter to even out the light values of the sky and water. I was thinking ahead so when I arrived I would immediately know what needed to be done to get the shot I wanted. But time was getting short and the sun was already setting through a sliver of an opening in the cloud cover. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hike to the spot before the sun went down, however I hoped I would get there just as the clouds lit up. But down I went, really hard with all my weight landing directly on my shoulder; I knew immediately it was bad. I couldn’t even lift up my arm; it just hung there by my side and It was extremely painful. I got up slowly and kept moving until I got to the edge of the lake. Somehow, I managed to get the camera out of the bag and onto the tripod using the one good arm and the other hand, but never lifting it from my side. Then I had to change the lens on the camera, get the filter on, compose (which was pretty painful and difficult using a ball head) and managed to click off a few frames just before the beautiful light vanished. A two second exposure smoothed out the water a bit since it was not completely still and mirror-like; otherwise it would have just looked blurry without much in the way of reflections. I was happy I was able to get through the pain to photograph the great light on the clouds, but I paid the price on the walk back to the car, my shoulder was throbbing with every step. I had to drive using only one hand because I couldn’t get my other hand up to hold the wheel, and it wouldn’t have been too bad except that I drive a manual transmission… always have.
The shoulder seemed to improve just a bit the next day, so I felt I may not have broken anything, and although it was still pretty painful, it continued to improve just a tiny bit each day until I finally had some semblance of normal movement back. It is still not right today, after over two months, but the events of that afternoon really made me think that I needed to be a bit more cautious when I’m out alone. When I head out west, or anywhere away from home for that matter, for photography, I tend to travel alone and am pretty conservative, trying not to put myself into any situations that could lead to disaster. But here near home, I have rethought my approach to being alone when I photograph as well. I could have really injured myself that night and been left lying there unable to get back to the car. Luckily I did have a cell phone, so that would have helped, but only if I had remained conscious! I came away with the realization that in a split second, things can change dramatically, and your life could possibly never be the same thereafter. I count my blessings that it wasn’t anything more serious than it was that night.