August 23, 2013

Balance – The Story Behind the Image

2013-5-10 Balance - Final 5-24-2013 750Balance – Split, Croatia


Normally it takes me just minutes to create an image, or perhaps a bit longer if I need to wait for the right conditions. I have a short attention span and if things don’t fall together quickly, I generally lose interest and move on.

However, the image above broke all records and really tested my patience because it took me six hours just to get the shot.

I was walking along one of the popular swimming beaches in Split, Croatia when I saw this scene. Beyond the reach of most swimmers were eight pilings, centered in the bay and protruding just above the surface of the water.  I took a few shots and moved on.

The next day I came back and found a better vantage point and set up for another shot. Because I had already photographed the scene and knew what I wanted, I expected to be there for only a few minutes. But just as I was getting ready to click the shutter, a boy swam out to the pilings and sat on them. I thought he’d leave soon and so I waited.

And I waited and waited and waited. I’m not sure what this kid was doing, but I could see him talking and waving his arms in a full-blown conversation with himself.

Boy on Piling

Soon an hour had passed and this kid was still talking! I was starting to get impatient and attempted to do a remote Vulcan mind meld, willing him to leave. 

Boy Standing on Piling

It must have worked because he then slipped into the water. I’m getting all set to make the exposure because I think he’s leaving…but no, he’s gotten back onto the pilings and has continued his conversation.

At this point I’ve got two hours invested into this shot and nothing to show for it, and this kid is still yakking away! I think about leaving, but stay and hope that he’ll run out of things to talk about. 

Now three hours have passed and this kid is still out there! In my head I’m screaming “GET OFF THE PILINGS” as he continues to talk to himself.

Finally after about four hours he swims away. Now I can get continue!

Two Boys on Piling 

But no, two new people swim out to the pilings. I tell myself that this last kid was an anomaly and that these two will not stay for very long.

Oh, but I be wrong! One hour later and those two are still out there and I can’t believe this. What should I do, leave and cut my losses or protect the time I’ve already invested and wait? 

I decide to wait, knowing that with my luck, just as soon as I leave they would too. 

It’s now been six hours since I first set up for that “quick shot.” I’m hot, hungry, dehydrated and almost delusional. I’m like Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” ranting and talking to myself. 

Passer-by’s are staring at me and giving me a wide berth. But there’s no way that I can leave now, it’s a matter of principle, I must get this shot!

Finally the two leave and I am able to create the image “Balance” after six hours of waiting.

What lesson did I learn from those six hours?  Wear sunscreen, I really got burnt.

14 thoughts on “Balance – The Story Behind the Image

  1. Reminds me of a similar “Boinga, boinga, boinga…” experience I had years ago (and wrote up on my blog with an entry with that title) trying to photograph off an Indiana-Jones-style bridge spanning a gorge in the Adirondacks (NY). It took a loooong time to get the sun and tourists trying to cross the bridge in sync long enough to get a decent shot. Not quite as trying as your experience here, but similar in that I had quite a few moments of “would you PLEASE JUST GO AWAY..!” angst 😉

  2. Definitely a simplicity carried to elegance image in all respects.
    It is fine as it is, can’t help wondering why you were so insistent that there be no people in the image. It would have made a fine “lone man” entry. (?)

  3. Agree with Gerry… understand it’s not your thing… but my reaction, was also, why didn’t you just go with the flow and would it really have been so terrible to include a figure in the shot.

    I’m sure at some point, you were wishing for a sympathetic jelly fish to swim by!!! 🙂

  4. Haha, brilliant story Cole and one which i can relate to…
    I was also trying to realise my vision with one of my first LEs, just south of Split in Croatia. I put it down to stubbornness, maybe a touch of OCD, but after 4.5hrs of waiting for the perfect cloud pattern to smudge across my frame, i too got a decent tan in the early afternoon heat….definitely makes for a memorable shot though when you put that kinda time & effort in!

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