MISSED “HERO SHOT” IN THE MARSHALLS

missed opportunity

I had a half hour window to capture this island atoll in the Marshall Islands (above) in optimum conditions – and I missed it.

A hard lesson was learned in the process which I thought I’d pass on as it illustrates what’s needed to capture that elusive “Hero Shot”.

If you study this picture, you can probably see its potential. A perfect, crescent shaped ribbon of white sand curls around the front of the island, harbouring an aqua blue lagoon on one side and a deep blue drop-off sprinkled with coral on the other. From the fly deck of the boat I had travelled on (spending 30 hours in an angry sea to get here, he adds), it would look absolutely stunning in the right conditions and probably produce one of the the most attractive island pictures I have ever captured.
Only, five important factors needed to align to produce the ideal photo. The sky needed to be clear and blue – ideally with puffy white clouds on the horizon – and the wind needed to be minimal; gentle enough to cool things down and make the palms sway but not that strong it would cause the water to be choppy and dull. We also needed the right light. At this time of year, I estimated the best time would be at 2pm. By then, the sun would shine directly onto the face of the island from behind us, digging out the shadows in the foliage with a gentler light but still be drawing out the deep blues and aqua colours of the water around the sand bar.
The forth factor was the tide. The water surrounding the island needed to be about two hours after high tide – low enough to reveal the shape of the sandbar but high enough to cover the rocks and coral that was revealed at low tide. I estimated we had just half an hour before the window closed.
And finally, the boat needed to be exactly in place on the edge of the lagoon at 1.30, with the sandbar directly between us and the island so we could capture the changes arriving at, and leaving, what I anticipated would be the perfect moment.
But, regrettably dear reader, that was not to be. At one o’clock, when we saw four of the five factors moving into alignment and excitedly looked to re-locate the boat into position, we discovered the anchor was stuck under a coral head and we couldn’t move.
This, I concluded, was not the moment to be a photographer.
As the captain did all he could to free our position, I watched the tide come and go, the light change, the colour disappear and the wind build up. Two hours later we finally broke loose and this (above) was the picture I captured on our way back to Majuro – nice, but not “the hero shot.”
Sometimes, it just happens like that.
…..though its not as if we left completely empty handed and you can see (below).