We get to sleep in today–we don’t have to be at the mountain launch until 8:30AM. At 3:17AM, I am awakened by a dog looking intently at me, wagging his tail and a cloud of stench that makes me think he’s had an accident. I illuminate my iPhone and find he has not had an accident, yet. I pull on footwear, grab a jacket, and race outside with him. We make it outside with time to spare, but I’m about to have an accident by the time Tisen’s needs are met.
I spend the next 3 hours nodding off and waking up every 15 minutes. Tisen snores loudly at my feet. I finally fall back into a deep sleep about 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. I lay in bed willing myself to wake up my husband and get out of bed. Today is a big day–Pat’s first mountain launch.
We make it to the top of the mountain and find a couple of guys from Minnesota have already launched for the first time. They and the instructor, JC, return about the time we’re done assembling Pat’s glider. JC goes through the flight plan with Pat again, making sure he knows exactly what he’s supposed to do.
While she launches our Minnesota classmates again, I busy myself getting my equipment ready. There’s the GoPro helmet cam, my iPhone video camera, and, of course, my DSLR. I’ve found a spot below the launch ramp to shoot from. Unfortunately, I’m too close to the ramp with the 100-400mm lens to get the field of view I want.
Since I am also manning the iPhone video camera, I’ve mounted it into a TomTom iPhone mount to make it easier to hold on top of my lens. Whatever I’m pointing at will also be the subject for the video. Pat, aka MacGyver, came up with this idea.
I learned several things trying to shoot this launch. First, don’t be both the still photographer and the videographer at the same time. I couldn’t pan well while holding the iPhone mount and missed the most interesting parts of the launch with my camera. Second, the iPhone is a fine way to make a video if your subject is no more than, say, 50 feet away. After that, Pat was a white dot floating over the trees. Third, keeping yourself busy with equipment really distracts you from the overwhelming anxiety created by watching your life partner of over 16 years run off the edge of a mountain. Unfortunately, it also distracts you from fully experiencing the moment. I felt like I hadn’t seen the launch at all. The moment my husband stood on top of a mountain with a kite on his back and ran off that mountain like he’d been doing it all his life, in that moment, I was distracted. I wanted to be inside his head at that moment, but, instead, I was outside, looking through a viewfinder.