I did it on purpose and I’ll probably do it again! Hmmmm. Perhaps I should explain.
I am fortunate to still occupy the life experience zone between the points where one wets his pants due to lack of knowledge and the time when one wets his pants due lack of control. However in the period between these two states of grace there is an assumption that common sense would make one avoid the appearance and discomfort of a damp midsection, the operative phrase here being “common sense”.
There is only one way to get compelling images of small shorebirds whose size is comparable to your closed fist. Chasing them doesn’t work. They think humans are dangerous (smart birds) and they have wings. Sneaking up on them doesn’t work. They have wicked good eyesight, greatly superior to ours. If you want to get an intimate photograph where the bird is reasonably proportioned in the frame and the background is soft and dreamy, you have to lie in the sand and wait. Eventually you are no longer seen as a threat and the feathered lovelies will come much closer to you than you could accomplish by attempted stealth.
Horseneck Beach is a long shallow shoreline. At high tide you can walk several hundred feet out into the ocean and still be only knee deep in the salty brine. At low tide there can be from 25 to 100 feet of soaking wet sand between the dry beach and the edge of the water. Of course this is the richest feeding area for the young shorebirds and of course this is where any photographer, suffering the natural paucity of common sense that is characteristic of the breed, will need to lie down and wait for the perfect shot.
And so on a recent day in Westport, I did. For about a half an hour, as beach walkers and children strolled by, casting furtive glances, exchanging quiet comments and the occasional snicker, I lay there taking frame after frame, looking for the perfect image. Mind you, from my elbows up, a plastic contractor bag laid carefully on the sand, protected my gear from sure destruction and ruin should it become covered with wet sand. But for the rest of me…
When I finally got up, stripped off my shirt which was soaked from above the belly button to the dripping shirttails and walked up the beach to the parking lot, I was quite a ridiculous site. My front was sandy and wet from waist down to the knees. Bare chest crusted with sand.
I’ve learned to adopt a nonchalant facial expression at times like this; a kind of “La De Da” look. While I’ll try to give a nod to keeping up appearances, my feeling is folks can stare all they want. When all is done, I am rewarded with an image like this. I think it’s worth it. And I’ll wet my pants again. For sure!