Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To Get THAT Image

There is always a shot that one has on their mind. Something that cant just be taken. That requires hours of thought, planning and detailed execution.
I had one of those shots, it involved a recon, using the GPS, travelling down little farm roads and meeting with unexpected obstacles.

Although on this first adventure I had luck, and managed to get a usable image, it was not “the image” that I wanted, but it was better than nothing (see above image).

A trip back to home base, and with the wonders of Google Earth, a detailed look at the landscape to try and find the perfect shooting spot. I noticed to get the shot that I wanted would mean trespassing on somebody else’s land. Dodging a herd of curious bovine (found on the first night) and waiting for the perfect weather conditions before my time ran out.

Sadly, time was not on my side, after a passing cyclone interrupted my plans it was decided, with only one night left in the country, to go out and attempt to get the image. So not in the most ideal weather anybody could hope for, in the pitch of dark, I donned in matt black, grabbed a walkie talkie and set off with my partner in crime to hop a farmers fence, sneak past the cattle and get “the image”.

This all started off well. Arriving at the field, I hopped the fence. The cows were nowhere in sight. I started my trek up the first hill... Noticing the wind was blowing harder than expected. Maybe even too hard for the Tripod.

Half way up the hill, I heard a sound, like a soft rolling thunder. A look at the sky set my mind falsely at ease. Since soon that soft thunder seemed to be mixed with rustling, snorts and before I knew it, the stampede of cattle was rushing across my vision.

I decided to alter my path, I did not want to scare them more than I had already. Apparently, it was not fear that caused the sudden rush of cow. Soon, I was surrounded. All of them looking at me with large black eyes, pink snouts and curious looks of “WTF?”

I made a “tsk tsk” noise, hoping it would comfort them... it did not. Instead, with speed they came closer in a single minded movement. I played with the idea of radioing for help, but the thought of the little walkie-talking bursting out with crackles startling the massive bovine into a rage stopped me.

I lowered myself to see if they were indeed cows, and not of the bull persuasion. Check, they had udders. Next, look to see if they have any calf – a pissed off mother stamping me to death did not seem appealing at all. No little cowlettes. Okay, so these were indeed just scary hungry WTF looking cows wanting food.

Then they were gone. Stampedes are far quieter on wet grass than you could imagine. A few more meters into the direction I wanted to go and then whoosh, surrounded again by curious eyes and wet snouts.

With the grace of cows on hover pads, they vanished again. But each time reappearing, surrounding me in a perfect circle. As if they were being controlled by the wind itself. My progress was slow, by this time I knew they just wanted food, but the chances of been squelched under hoof seemed very real. Eventually, I made it to an electric fence... I knew I had hit the final hurdle. One that I could not beat.

In day time, I'd have no issue slipping over an electric fence, but in the rain, at night, on a farm that I was not meant to be on, followed by hungry cows, with a camera around my shoulder and a tripod in hand – no.

I turned, and with an army of bovine following me, went back to the car. As a final kick of failer, I stepped in a large patty.

I think this time round, I'll just be happy with the original shot I collected on the first recon mission.


  1. Awesome image Frankie. And well done on surviving the cows.

  2. it's still pretty cool. and the cow story adds to the whole whatsit of the thing