Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Treats For The Screaming Eagles

Airborne! The 101st Airborne Division is San Mateo's own, an honor that dates back to the Viet Nam war era. Officially adopted in 1968, San Mateo really rolled out the red carpet for the 50th Anniversary celebration in June of this year. Every year, goodies and thank you cards arrive at City Hall, which will be delivered to the troops in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before their deployment to Afghanistan in late December.

As a photo, this shot isn't noteworthy, but in some ways the back story is. The photo was made on a Monday, which happened to be the first day of my call to Jury Duty. As it turned out, our first meeting was re-scheduled to the following Tuesday, so all of a sudden I had the time to make this photo. I grabbed my normal Fuji kit bag and my press pass, and at the last moment decided to bring my Justin Case, something I swore I'd bring to every event, "just in case". With my Fuji kit bag and my Justin Case, I entered City Hall, ready to go.

Ready On The Set? My subjects were most helpful, moving a pile of treats to front counter for the photo.  This was the best compromise as it required the least amount of work while providing a suitable office background. To my shock, when I checked by Fuji bag, there was no speedlight to be found! After a deep breath, I remembered that I had experimented with a Fuji-dedicated Adorama flash, which I used in my last assignment. I removed it to change the batteries and apparently forgot to return it to the kit. But having that spare SB-80 saved the day for me, allowing me to proceed without delay.

Pound Foolish: I guess I went overboard in assembling a lighter Fuji kit to ease my aching shoulders, and while my two bodies and three lenses could potentially cover any disaster, my failure to replace that primary flash was a potentially disastrous oversight. Now my much heavier Nikon kit bag includes two bodies, three lenses, and as many as three speedlights, but was left at home since this was a relatively simple assignment. But today, I was so thankful that I thought to bring my little emergency kit, and that in a few seconds, I was back in the game.

After mounting the flash in the hotshoe,  I aimed it at the white ceiling and pulled out the built-in bounce card. The resulting image was acceptable, although I wished I could have lightened the background, something I could have easily done if I had a second flash.  But I didn't, so the shot was made with what I had with me. It reminded me of how important flashes are to my work, and neglecting to have a backup for something so important was foolish in the extreme.

As we approach the Winter Solstice, be sure to celebrate its arrival in any manner you see fit, so long as you bring to it the kindness and compassion we should show to everyone, all year round.  As Kinky Freeman said in a radio interview, "May you be blessed by the God of your choice!"