Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

A photographer’s despair

Have you ever felt the despair of a disappointed photographer? Have you experienced the terrible frustration of being ready to take an exceptional picture, and then having everything go wrong? I have had this experience, and even now, when I think of it, I still feel terrible regret. All professional photographers know that the number of opportunities to create great pictures in a lifetime can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

We were in Djibouti. After a long journey to Africa’s Cape Horn, we decided to go on a diving cruise. After visiting the islands of the Seven Brothers, we stopped for two days in Tadjourah Bay to observe and photograph a colony of whale sharks. The only way to photograph these massive fish is using snorkeling gear. They feed on plankton, and in order to filter the massive quantities which they need out of the water, they have to constantly move around. If we had used scuba tanks, we would have had very little chance of taking any photos. Our technique was to row around the bay in an inflatable boat until we spotted one or two whale sharks, and then get into the water to take pictures. To avoid frightening the animals, we worked in pairs.

It was our second day photographing the whale sharks. We had already taken a lot of good pictures. The harvest was very rich. We had each spent over 8 hours in the water, and we had all the photos we wanted for our report. I decided to try something different. I talked to Isabelle: I wanted to be alone for 30 minutes. She agreed to swim a short distance away from me. I felt that even a pair of snorkelers might frighten a whale shark. Even though whale sharks are about 7 or 8 yards long, it is still necessary to come fairly close to them, and the beating and thrashing of a scuba diver’s fins does not encourage them to stick around. Laurence, our scuba diving guide, also agreed to leave me alone. She gave me some advice, and then left. She would come to pick me up in 30 minutes. I thought that there was a fairly good probability of encountering a whale shark. I hoped, since I was alone, that I would avoid frightening it and be able to take some different photos.

The inflatable boat moved away, leaving me alone with my camera. This is my favorite way to work, and I had all the time that I needed. Half an hour is plenty.

I didn’t see any whale sharks, but I was not worried. I told myself that at least one would appear in a few minutes. I decided to make some free dives to 10 yards so that I would be warmed up and ready whenever a whale shark showed up. I completed a few breathing exercises on the surface, then made my first descent. It was exhilarating, even though I had to hold my breath. Because I was alone, without someone watching from the surface, I had promised Laurence that I would not go any deeper. I only stayed down for about 20 seconds each time. It wasn’t worth risking an accident by staying down too long.

After 15 minutes of solitude, there was still no whale shark in sight. I began thinking that I must have adopted the wrong method. Maybe it would have been better to search with the inflatable boat. 20 minutes, and still nothing. I decided to make another free dive to pass the time. I descended slowly to ten yards. I set the computer to beep when I reached that depth. The beep sounded, and I stood up. Then I started turning to see if a whale shark was coming towards me.

Suddenly, I saw an enormous shadow less than 100 yards away. It was huge. The whale shark would have to be more than 15 yards long. In Djibouti, that is extremely unusual. I had seen whale sharks that size before, but that was in the Galapagos archipelago. I waited impatiently for the behemoth to come closer. The form was growing clearer. It wasn’t a whale shark. It was four of them coming right towards me, mouths wide open. They were only 25 yards away from me. I felt a powerful adrenaline rush. Finally, after all these years, I was going to create a really great, ‘winning’ picture. It was an extraordinary sight. I have never seen a photo of four whale sharks swimming together. I was certain that I would take a ‘killer’ photo. Everything was moving very fast. I aimed through the camera’s view finder. I was using a 14 mm lens, so the field of view was large enough for me to see the whole scene. I focused the camera. The autofocus worked well. I triggered it. Nothing happened. I forced the trigger down. Still nothing. Suddenly, the wonderful picture that had been so close to me was gone again, hopelessly out of reach. It was impossible for me to take a picture. The four whale sharks moved on inexorably. What was going on? My mind was working at a hundred miles an hour. I had enough battery, because the autofocus was working. Maybe I pressed too hard on the trigger and it broke? The whale sharks were right over me, forming a huge wall that blocked out the sunlight. Not only was the space around me dark, but so was my mind. I was desperate. I did not understand why I could not take a picture. It had only been 7 or 8 seconds, but now I could do nothing. The whale sharks swam past me. It was too late. I had missed my chance to take the perfect photo. I returned to the surface, desperate, miserable, and confused. I gave a cry of despair.

I needed to understand what was wrong. The battery was charged because I could focus the camera. Suddenly, I understood. I looked at the number of pictures I had left: 0. My memory card was full. I scrolled through the photos and realized that I had forgotten to format my card at the end of the previous day. That morning, I had continued to use it. What a mistake! The whole thing was my fault. By the time I figured it out, it was too late. I deleted some pictures I had taken the previous day. We never know. I still had ten minutes before the boat picked me up. But luck did not smile on me again. The miracle did not happen twice. That was not the day that I would create “the picture”.

Ever since that mishap, I always check the number of pictures remaining, and I always check the trigger before getting in the water. Luck comes only to those who pursue it. I am still in the race. One day, I will take “the picture” that I missed that day. Until that moment, which should happen soon, I still find that life is beautiful.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti

Whale sharks in Tadjourah Bay, Djibouti.

 

If you like this chronicle, please feel free to leave us a comment using the form at the bottom of the page or sharing it via social networks.

All 100 comments, we make a draw of best text and send a beautiful book as a gift.

By subscribing to our newsletter, you will receive news of our site once a month.

 

Spaces are available for these photo trips

Wildlife photo workshop dedicated to the bellowing of the red deer stag - September 2018
Tuesday 07 June 2016 Photo workshops - far adventures

Wildlife photography workshop — bellowing red deer stags. Fall 2018

Photographing bellowing red deer stags in France - September 2018 If you are a wildlife photographer who loves photographing animals in their natural environment, if you want to discover new horizons and photograph new species, and if you want to gain new technical knowledge, then join us for a…
Wildlife photo workshop from floating hides in France - July 2018
Tuesday 06 June 2017 Photo workshops - far adventures

Wildlife photo workshop from floating hides in France - July 2018

Photographing birds from floating hides: a wildlife photo workshop in La Dombes, France in July 2018 From June 30 to July 10, 2018, we will teach a wildlife photography workshop about photographing birds from floating hides in the marshes of La Dombes. La Dombes is a swampy area northeast of Lyon,…

 

 

Do not forget to subscribe to our newsletter

captcha

 

Contact us

captcha

 

Website Updates



We continually update our website with new and exciting features! As professional photographers of wildlife, underwater scenes, and landscapes, this mainly pertains to information about our work, as well as adventures we embark upon. Our professional photography blog is particularly written for photographers who are interested in discovering innovative doors of creativity through the medium of nature photography.


 

 

Amar and Isabelle Guillen. Professional Photographers of nature.

We are fascinated and passionate about the beauties of nature. We love to see the landscapes and observe wild animals whether on land or underwater. We have chosen to become professional photographers to share the emotions we feel when we observe nature whether it be on land or underwater. Our goal is to create art with our photographs. We always try to transform the banal into a contemplative and artistic interpretation.

We are wildlife professional photographers, landscape professional photographers and underwater professional photographers. We also strive to document nature with a focus on conservation and education.

We make art prints from our artistic photographs. These art prints are available on our website. We make exhibitions to show all the beauties and the incredible richness of nature that surrounds us.

We also love to share our love for the beauties of nature with other photographers. To communicate our know-how and to exchange our techniques and our points of view, we organize wildlife photography workshops, underwater photography workshops and landscape photography workshops. We gather together people who have the same passion as us for the beautiful photographs taken in nature.

  • No comments found

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

0
komento