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Out of Focus — Chasing the Light at the Speed of Light (full story)

©Ethan Meleg Being a nature photographer means spending a life on the road chasing the light! Photo taken in Lake Superior Provincial Park, ON

©Ethan Meleg
Being a nature photographer means spending a life on the road chasing the light!
Photo taken in Lake Superior Provincial Park, ON

Note: This column is presented as a humours piece and is intended as such. Please enjoy responsibly. — Editor-in-Cheif

You may be inclined to think that the lifestyle of a pro nature photographer is a Zen-like existence, each day another series of magically ethereal experiences. Well, there are moments just like that and I take great pleasure in them, but in general my life is pretty much exactly the opposite. This is a highly competitive career and only those with drive survive. I’m a type-A personality (most pro photographers are). I drink too much coffee, eat on the run and am on my phone continuously checking emails or sharing photos on Facebook. I’m always in a rush!

I spend a great deal of time driving and log more kilometres in the “Manly Van” than I care to admit. Typically, I’m chasing the light, racing around to make it on location in time for sunrise or sunset. Speeding is a regular part of my life and I’ve been known to drive at extraordinary speeds in pursuit of great light. The most heinous example occurred when I was much younger and more foolish (and more importantly, long enough ago to exceed the statute of limitations for legal prosecution). I spotted an incredible double rainbow and promptly drove 170 km/h on a gravel road to reach a good spot to shoot it. I shake my head looking back on that now; it’s a wonder I survived to tell the story. Ironically, I screwed up the photos.

Although I’m a much safer and more conservative driver these days, I still speed often enough to get periodic speeding tickets. This is a problem, not only because of the impact on my insurance rates, but because I worry about having my driver’s license suspended. Twice, I’ve received the dreaded letter from the Ministry of Transportation stating that I had accrued enough demerit points to ensure I’d be walking after the next infraction.

In addition to slowing down significantly, I’ve had to implement other measures to avoid speeding tickets. These strategies have included convincing police officers to not issue a ticket. On two separate occasions, I’ve looked the officer directly in the eyes and said, “I am going to poop my pants” with a deadpan delivery that would put any Oscar-nominated actor to shame. I was let off (quickly) without a ticket both times.

If you happen to see me speeding past you sometime, please accept my apologies, but I’m probably just chasing after great light. And lastly, in case my insurance agent is reading this, I will state for the record that I can neither confirm nor deny the truth of any part of this article!

To read more of Ethan’s columns and other great how-to articles please pick up the Summer/Fall 2014 issue of OPC today, or subscribe!

One Response to “Out of Focus — Chasing the Light at the Speed of Light (full story)”

  1. wjboswell says:

    Great story Ethan. Always enjoy hearing you speak at the camera club.

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