Bear photoshoot fail: In which I have a full minute to shoot a wild bear and f*** it up.

So for those of you following me for a while now knowing that this blog is all about chronicling my successes and failures at learning how to use my camera, this is a good one. You’ll like this one. Because I know you’ve all done something similar.

Last week, I woke up early to go for a day of horseback riding through aspen forests and then fly fishing. On the way to the horses we turned a corner at 745 a.m. and saw a wonderfully rotund black bear, who happened to be magnificently reddish brown. He wasn’t in any hurry to get away from us, so I had some time to get the camera out and grab some shots as we maneuvered right in front of him. click-click-click-click!

I checked the camera very quickly just to see that the exposure was right – I had switched to Program mode instantly when I took my camera out because I only had a matter of a few seconds to fire off some pics. I put the body back after we watched the bear disappear into some brush and didn’t think about it again until the next day. I was so excited to have seen a bear and had some really good angles with him. He wasn’t tagged (yet) and I would be able to crop some great closeups of his face. Or so I thought. 

So what went wrong? Why are these shots grainy and blurry? Light was right, the camera was on Program mode, I was 18 feet away using a 28-300 lens. How did I manage to fuck it up?

Two nights prior we had been using the D3s for a night shoot. All of the settings from that shoot were still on the camera: the body was on manual focus and the ISO was set to 5000. I didn’t even think to check the body focus switch because it’s always on Single shot focus. And my ISO is usually never at 5000. Except, of course, for a night shoot.

FLIPS TABLE: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

Yes, I saw a really beautiful bear super close up. No, I did not get great shots of it. I was stewing about this for a while over breakfast the next day and made a new rule: every time the camera goes back in the pack, it gets switched to Single Focus mode, M/A on the lens needs to be double checked and it has to be set to 400 ISO on Program.

The only thing that made me feel better about this, and trust me, this was a painful blog to write, is that over breakfast Michele told me the story of how she shot an impromptu gathering on September 12, 2001 of all of the United employees in downtown Boston with no film in her camera.


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3 Responses to Bear photoshoot fail: In which I have a full minute to shoot a wild bear and f*** it up.

  1. mdjgutie says:

    No film. Tell her I LOLed and my coworker asked what was so funny.

  2. Kerry says:

    We just got back from SF. After having my “good” camera stolen, we used a pocket camera to take the rest of our shots. I uploaded them all to my computer only to find that on our shots of the family by the Golden Gate Bridge, the kids had played with the settings and they were all taken in the lowest possible pixel setting. No 8x10s for the wall here. But I guess they’ll work for a holiday card! I am loving living vicariously through your blog and photography experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Mono Lake is like being on the FRIKKIN’ MOON – All photos, Night 1 & 2 | Less Than Amateur

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