I have often noted that when I go out with merely an idea of what I intend to photograph; not a set plan, that often results in my being distracted by opportunism.
For a moment on Sunday afternoon, I thought I might be visited by just such a situation as I had decided to further experiment with the best combination of film speed with which to maximise my chances of successfully photographing windsurfers, hence my second recent visit to Brogborough Lake, south of Bedford. I arrived and took out my two chosen lensed cameras – the Canon 7D with the 100-400mm, the 5D MkII with the 70-200mm. No sooner than I had locked my car, I was buzzed by a dragonfly. Now for some while I have wanted to capture shots of these wonderful insects, so I carefully watched this fellow as it dived and hovered, and I thought I was in with a chance to get shots.
So for the next five or ten minutes, I gave it and at least two others my undivided attention, and thought at first this was going to be another swapped option due to serendipity, but I was meeting with no success, so I returned to plan A, and made my way back to the main launch area for the surfboards. I hasten to add not with any regrets – I throughly enjoy the challenges involved in capturing the action of windsurfers.
What was noticeable was how many people greeted me warmly, this time around as many had taken a look at the last gallery of images from my most recent visit, which was very gratifying. But from my point of view, I had yet to be really satisfied with the results; I knew I could do better, and this was what I intended. It was not simply a matter of the weather, the sun or the wind direction it was also how to balance the resolution of the image against flare from the foaming water spray, the shutter speed and the depth of field, because all these parameters vary wildly. If it is dull I need the speed, and the aperture will be large, giving a narrower depth of field, meaning I have to be more accurate with focus. If there is bright sunshine, which direction is it coming from, and if it is well in front of me, I need to lower the ISO so I have the high dynamic range handled, I also need to consider the wind direction and therefore which side the surfer is, because I wish to see their faces in most cases. It would also help if I knew more about the subject and also the prevailing winds before travelling the distance between Caddington and Brogborough.
Having taken shots from a low angle along the shore to the right and beyond the main launch area, I then moved to the opposite end in the area where the Ampthill Anglers have a section of the lakeside, and still kept low before breaking off for an excellent bacon roll and tea, very kindly paid for by Barry Rivett.
The remaining time was spent right by the slipway and was then treated to some jumps for my benefit, the first of which I barely caught as I was caught unawares, but these were the crême de la crême for me, until I spotted Rusty on Tony Tiffen’s board and learned that he was definitely going for a sail – once I had captured the departure and safe return of Man and his Best Friend, I called it a day!