Thursday 8 November 2007

Check your Gear..even if you think you don't need to

Sunday morning I got up early (4:30am) and headed down to Heybridge Basin to see if I could get some dawn shots. Heybridge basin is where a canal (the Chelmer Navigation) meets the tidal estuary of the river Blackwater. A sea-lock connects the two, when there is a high tide.

The river itself is surrounded by high sea walls and for most of the time the tide is out. So it is not an easy location to shoot, but I had planned my shoot for a time when high tide coincided with dawn.

The night before was the Saturday nearest to Guy Fawkes Night, which means an awful lot of fireworks. I'm sure this is a lot of fun for a lot of people but for us it's a pretty retched time as you try to comfort two terrified dogs, who get really stressed out by the bangs and occasionally throw up with the stress...which is nice. In the middle of this mayhem I was trying to pack my gear for the following morning.

I packed carefully, following my checklist, but when it came to the point of checking if the batteries were fully charged I looked at the camera and it said 3/4 full plus I knew I had a spare battery in my kit so, with all the rest of the hassle that night, I didn't bother....big mistake!

Things started off well with me perching on the edge of the lock to get an image as the sun started to rise over Northey Island.

Heybridge Dawn
(Click to view large)

Then the most remarkable thing happened, as the tide started to rise the place burst into life, the lock keepers appeared & started to open the lock, boats started to move and even the pub opened..all at 7 o'clock in the morning!

Obviously high-tide is the only time that boats can get in and out of the basin and so people have to build their activities around it. Realising that it wouldn't be long before a boat made it's way towards the lock I positioned myself on top of the rear lock gates and waited till the boat came in to the exact position I needed it to make the composition I had set up complete.

Waiting to Lock
(click to view large)
If you look carefully you can see a lock keeper on either side of the image, helpfully balancing the composition

Now all I needed to do was wait for the boat to come in to the lock and I would get a nice series of pictures of the boat locking in fantastic light. At precisely the wrong moment my battery ran out. So I quickly opened my pack and got the spare out...which was flat too!

I had no choice but to pack up and walk away, muttering to myself about the one that got away. Lesson learned - always check your spare battery has charge. I hope you can learn from this and don't suffer a similar fate yourself.


kheops said...

thanks chris i think i have too much confidence in my spare battery as well...
but this story is not so sad since you have at least two wonderful shot, i'd be glad if the same thing happened to me each time i go out for a shoot :)
take care

Chris Shepherd said...

Thank you kindly - I think it's cold weather that is really killing them. One to watch I think!