Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The zoo's my blues muse.

So, the first time I went to the Indianapolis zoo, we were there for a company picnic with Bobbi's employer. It was late summer of 2011, and I had the Kodak EasyShare V1073 that I'd bought to photograph the LuckyGunner blogger shoot along with me. I had a lot of fun shooting pictures at the zoo.

The next time I was there was again with Bobbi, on a lark on one of her vacation days in 2013. Two years later, I had a more formidable camera. The Canon PowerShot SX500IS was all ate up with megapixels (16!) and zoom-X's (30!) relative to the Kodak, and I did indeed manage to get some better pictures with it.

In the summer of 2014, Kirk and I bicycled down to the zoo, and I schlepped along my then-current camera, a Canon 20D with an 18-135mm travel zoom lens fitted. I was super happy with a few of my shots. I was more patient on the shutter, and had at least some eye toward composition.

Fast forward to yesterday:

The Winter That Won't End has not been kind to my SADS. I've been struggling with enough give-a-damn to get out of the house on plenty of days, and have had too many that saw me stay in pyjamas, sitting at my keyboard until well in the afternoon before I could yank myself out of a mope long enough to run errands.

Tuesday's weather was forecast to be sunny by lunchtime, with a temp that might flirt with fifty degrees in the afternoon. "You know what?" I thought to myself on Monday afternoon, "I'll bet a trip to the zoo tomorrow, just by myself, with no schedule to worry about, would be just the thing to snap me out of my funk. I'll bring good cameras, and it will be awesome."

So I drove down and pulled into the zoo parking lot and the signs were good. I'd tried doing this last Friday only to abort at the last minute when I saw that the parking lot was jammed full and half of it was school buses. Tuesday at lunchtime, though, there were only a half dozen school buses and the parking lot was barely a quarter full.

The weather, though, had probably something to do with it. It was 34°F and gusting as I walked across the parking lot. There were more kids running around screaming than I thought there would be, and my hands were getting a little cold as I stood looking down into the walrus tank...

But, oh what I was seeing through the viewfinder! I had the full-frame Sony A7 with me, fitted with the 24-240mm zoom that my friends had pooled their dough and surprised me with. Oh, you could see the walruses' vibrissae glistening and the water droplets frozen in space as they surfaced and spun and dove... These pictures were going to be great!

After about ten minutes of shooting, I noticed the kids were thinning out, and I decided to duck into the desert biome to warm my hands while I shot pictures of lizards.

There in the indoor display, shooting from an awkward angle, I was composing the shot using the screen on the back of the camera instead of the viewfinder and... what were those orange letters blinking in the top right corner of the screen?
Oh. Fudge. Except, much like that more famous Hoosier, I didn't say "fudge".

I fumbled in the little pocket of the Event Messenger 100 intended to hold spare memory cards. There was no card in there, either.

Oh. Fudge.

Wait, the zoo gift shop! They used to sell film in those back in the day! Maybe they had some cheap SanDisk 8GB cards for three times what they were worth?

I half-ran across the zoo to the gift shop, but no dice. Oh, they had some emergency battery chargers for smart phones, which is how half everyone records images these days. If you were perverse enough to be schlepping actual camera gear around the zoo, you were obviously expected to be squared away enough to have remembered to check your cameras before you left the house.

Walking dejectedly from the gift shop, I took a few deep breaths and centered myself.

I'd learned one lesson from that long ago trip to Tennessee: Anyplace worth bringing one camera is worth bringing two. The camera bag over my shoulder is the one I take with me everywhere. It holds my iPad Mini and its type cover, an Olympus PEN E-P5, and three lenses, with the 14-150mm zoom mounted on the camera. It's a good little rig and the one I used to do almost all my picture-taking at Tac-Con.

Determined not to waste the trip, I decided to just walk it off and shoot the zoo with the PEN.

Meanwhile, the sun came out, the temp rose into the 40's, and along about one o'clock or so, the zoo largely emptied out. I was glad I stayed.

The Olympus did just fine, by the way, and I had a fantastic time.

You know, the zoo is only about a twenty minute drive from the house, and annual memberships aren't terribly expensive. This is some cheap therapy, when you think about it.