Tisen and I make it to the training hills. It’s a mile walk in my barefoot shoes on rough gravel carrying about 40 pounds of gear, but we stop frequently along the way to shoot, so it doesn’t seem so difficult.
Tisen gets confused shortly after we arrive. When a hang gliding student drives off on a Kubota, Tisen sprints across the field following him. I don’t realize Tisen thinks I’m on the Kubota until he gets 100 yards away and shows no sign of turning back. I call him and he hears me, but he can’t tell where I am. A glider flies into the field about 10 yards from Tisen and he decides it’s me, running straight for the glider. I call him again, hoping to prevent him from “playing” with the pilot.
Tisen hears me, but when he looks up, he sees a group of people and decides that’s where I am. I keep calling him, hoping he’ll locate me. He is now 30 yards from me and running from person to person, eliminating each as a possible me. After he passes them all, I am the only person left. I wave my arms high in the air and call again. At last, he sees me. He’s so excited, he practically knocks me down when he runs up to greet me. Poor guy.
After I take a few shots of the training hills half wishing I were flying today, we walk to the top of the big hill. I take only my tripod and camera with the 16-35mm lens on it. At the top, one of the pilots asks if I’m selling pictures. I laugh. He says he was hoping maybe he could buy some from me. I take his email address and tell him I’ll email some photos to him for free. Now I have a client.
I take some rapid-fire shots of his flight, but the wide angle lens looking down isn’t the best view. Tisen and I walk back to the bottom of the hill and I set up again with my 100-400mm plus 1.4x teleconverter. I shoot my client a second time, but this time looking up at 560mm. It looks like I’m standing next to him.
Unfortunately, I cannot pan and focus manually at the same time, so I only get a few good shots during the launch before he drops out of my frame and then I lose focus when I find him again. This is exactly why I don’t ask for money to shoot people.
I pack up, load myself with all my gear, and Tisen and I head back up the road, stopping to enjoy the sun on more spider webs and the contrasting colors of bright, new leaves against dark evergreens.
When we make it back to the car, Tisen hops in like he wasn’t sure we were going to survive this adventure. He’s tired. Come to think of it, so am I.