29 June 2008

What Is That?

I'm looking for geese, and this ain't geese.
But something is swimming pretty forcefully across the lake below me. The lake is about 300 feet wide, and whatever it is I'm looking at has already made it more than halfway to the other bank.
Is it a deer? I've seen deer swimming before.
Despite being equipped with just about the spindliest legs on the face of the earth, they are very strong swimmers.
From 500 feet above the surface I push the collective down and start a descending, decelerating arc to satisfy my curiosity. Pretty quickly I realize it's not a deer, but what the heck is it?
Into the wind, continuing to slow and descend, I see it's not one thing, but several... an aquatic parade of sorts. In the lead is a VERY large raccoon. In his wake, apparently as curious about his proceedings as me, are six ducklings, still too young to fly. Where is Momma duck?
My approach spooks the ducklings and they abandon the parade for safer territory, but the big raccoon continues his powerful swim to the opposite side. I'm in a very dangerous spot... hovering fifteen feet above the water, but I'd like to have a picture of this spectacle to share with you. I apply friction to the collective and reach for my camera pack. The helicopter descends a little toward the water, so I pull the collective up a little and take the camera out of it's holster and set it on the seat next to me, then push the collective down again to get closer to the swimming raccoon. I grab the camera and push the "power" button. The zoom lens pops out and I'm ready to shoot the picture. I once again set the camera on the seat next to me, then readjust the controls, take my left hand off the collective, grab the camera again. This is risky stuff. Obviously I have to shoot this picture one-handed... left handed. I point the camera and push the button, and the camera turns off.
After all that trouble, I've pushed the power button again instead of the shutter. The raccoon reaches the bank and disappears into the brush without even glancing back at me.

You'd have enjoyed the picture.


Yellowbird said...

Ouch! been there, done that, etc. Then there's the once in a lifetime shot missed because the camera shut itself off just as I picked it up. Or refused to turn on because I left the lens cap on. (Once it hits the lens cap, you have to turn it off and then back on again). I don't have a power button - the camera has a rotating switch which is coaxial with the exposure setting knob. I've had lovely shots ruined when I turned the thing on and inadvertently rotated the exposure setting to something completely incompatible with the environment.

And then tehre all those lovely sunset shots ruined because the flash went off...

Ian said...

At least we got a good story out of it.


Well, it was a great story. But forget about ever working for National Geographic. I mean, if you can't work a camera and fly a helicopter at the same time...:)

Andrea Shea King said...

lol --- it's happened to me before. Damn digital cams...

But it was a good story. thanks for the laugh.


elay said...

you're right..i would've enjoyed the picture! but i enjoyed reading as well, hoping you'd capture the swimming raccoon.
that's why co-pilots are nice to have around - to take the controls at times like this =)

Di said...

And I thought I was the only one who took pics while operating a vehicle!! Ha!! Your words paint a perfect picture..thanks for sharing!!!