The next book called for 1000 brand-new, specially-shot illustrations (you’ll see lots of them in Digital Photography Essentials (Step by step) and other books down the line. Although I have useful sets from working with SONY, from the TV series in Singapore and a crazy chateau party in France, I needed more.
Plan of no plan
We planned to shoot in USA, then Nicaragua but a week before we were to leave, the dangerous condition of politics in Nicaragua forced a change of destination. Wendy had always wanted to visit Guyana with its well-preserved rain forest, so that’s where we headed after a spell touring the Southwestern States of the USA.
In Guyana we were fortunate to meet conservation heroes (and the gorgeous blind Giant Otter, Buddy – nearly 2m from nose to tip of tail). That was a highlight of the trip, although the viciousness of the mosquitoes and sand-flies were also particularly noteworthy.
One disappointment was the tour company which was slap-dash and unhelpful. They are no help to those in Guyana trying to make a living from very challenging circumstances. We don’t recommend them: if you’re planning anything in Central and South America – the area they cover – check with us for their name.
Lovers of big hairy monsters, read on!
Another highlight of the trip was one dusk walk we took through the bush. By the time we were heading back, it was black as the pit from head to toe. Then we heard sounds like a wine-glass tapped with a nail. Sharp, penetrating and challenging the ears to hear every high-pitched vibration. It was quite chilling. We asked our tracker what that was. His answer made our spines tingle: it was the ‘call’ of a tarantula. He homed in one another ‘clinnggk!’ and shone the torch down the dark hole under a tree. Four or five bright purple stars of pin-prick light shone back for a moment, then disappeared.
It was stupendously exciting, and a sound we will take to the Hevenly Gates. I’ve asked some spider experts (OK, I know tarantulas aren’t spiders) but no-one seems to know how they make the sound. It certainly feels like they’re smashing their big, ugly fangs together but, as you know from (I think the final) Lord of the Rings film, tarantulas don’t close their jaws but stab downwards. Sorry; no pictures. One day, we’ll be back …
Between us, Wendy and I shot 12,000 exposures in the USA, Guyana and Trinidad. I had left behind my Sony A-900 as I’d found a good deal on a Canon EOS-1Ds MkIII. Wendy was on the Canon 5D MkII. Both performed faultlessly through deserts of the Four Corners and in the very damp conditions of wet seasaon Guyana. However, I found – to my disappointment – that I did not fall in love with the big Canon. It was too heavy (I must be getting old) and the back-of-camera display which I like so much on the Sony irritatingly had to be turned on every time I wanted to check my settings. I also did not like the shutter noise, which gets to be a problem when you hear the thing go off in your ear hundreds of times a day.
We finished the trip with a few days in Trinidad. That was quite relaxing, but we did not feel it was a country we were in a hurry to return to, with Port of Spain being a disappointment.
Wendy used mostly the Canon 100mm f/4 macro lens, and loved it. Certainly it was one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. I was mostly on my 24-70mm f/2.8 which, while it was satisfyingly sharp, was not up to the quality that I had become used to with the Zeiss 24-70mm f/2.8 for the Sony.
A great trip – big ‘Thank you’s’ to Jean, Alice, Diane, Colin, Terry & Jim for your hospitality and help.
Here’s a selection of pix that have mostly not made it into the books: