Jetty Photography/How Lucky Can You Get « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Jetty Photography/How Lucky Can You Get

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Canon 800mm f/5.6 L IS lens with a 1.4X II TC and the EOS-1D Mark III. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/250 sec. at f/8 set manually. One-shot AF and recompose with the central AF sensor. As always, click on any image to see a larger, sharper version.

God bless my sister Arna.  She skipped out of work early today so that she could take our Mom to therapy.  That allowed me to head down to Barnegat Inlet.  It was 164 miles from Holbrook to the motel in Ship Bottom, NJ;  it took me almost exactly three hours with two pits stops.   I arrived at Barnegat Lighthouse at about 2:30 pm and was headed to the jetty with only the tripod-mounted 800 f/5.6 and a Mark III soon after that.  The 1.4X II TC was in my jacket pocket. 

The wind was 20-25 from the north northwest with higher gusts.  After reading the posts here: about the planned Saturday BPN get-together (the weather may cancel it….)  I was a bit apprehensive about the condition of the jetty.   Having actually been there this afternoon for the first time I must report that the warnings were over-stated.   I am a veteran jetty fisherman and while all jetties can be dangerous the jetty at Barnegat is rather tame.   It is wide and the rocks are fairly flat.   There were very few puddles and only a few rocks near the end were covered with (dried) seaweed.   Those can be very slick when wet.   I did not see any slick black rocks; those can be lethal and are to be avoided at all costs.  With any wind out of the north or west the jetty should remain dry (and relatively safe).  

The air temp was about 30 degrees.  I wore my warmest coat, lined pants, rain pants to cut the wind, and my hiking boots with a pair of NEOS (also to cut the wind and to provide an layer of insulation).  I was over-dressed on the way out but glad to be warm on the long walk back into the wind.

When photographing on a rock jetty it is vitally important to be careful.  Look at where you are putting your feet with each step; do not look for or at the birds unless you stop.   One mis-step can be quite costly in terms of broken bones, broken equipment, broken skulls and possible concussions, and even death should you hit your head or fall into the water.  If you are at all in doubt about the safety of a given step, turn around and go back.   Be especially careful near the edges of a jetty.  Never step on a rock covered with wet seaweed.  Avoid stepping in a puddle as they are almost always slippery, especially if the water has been standing for any period of time.  And never ever even consider stepping on either a wet rock that slopes toward the water or a slimy black rock.  Excpetions to any of the above rules should be made only by folks wearing ice-creepers or similar footwear designed for traversing slick jetties.

Be vary careful when putting your tripod down.   No matter how beautiful an image you think that you might miss, be sure to level the tripod platform by raising or lowering the individual legs as needed (or by pulling out the leg tab and changing the angle of one or more legs to achieve the same results).   When adding a teleconverter or handling any small pieces of equipment such as bubble levelsor batteries, be sure to remove your heavy gloves and to hold on to each item firmly.  If you drop something and it falls between the rocks you will most likely never see it again. 

The rewards of photographing from rock jetties in winter can be great, but no image is worth a serious injury;  as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there….”

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