Monday, May 04, 2009

Detached from Reality

A recent rash of narrow escapes by camera crews has many lenslingers reviewing their emergency egress policy. Mine's pretty simple: When something wicked this way comes, I try to choke it with heel-dust. Unmanly? Perhaps, but twice now lethal forces have zeroed in on my bony ass, first in the form of water, then in the shape of an out-of-control truck. Hey, I've plowed through enough Stephen King novels to recognize overwrought foreshadowing when I see it. If you don't think I'm always on the lookout for Leviathan Number 3, well you've never seen me run like a lee-tull gurrrrl. But enough of my paranoia, let's do the news:

Dateline: Halifax. A CBC news crew was covering a forest fire when winds pushed a wall of flames toward them. Realizing they were surrounded, the producer and photog beat a hasty retreat, but not before recording a few potent moments. Trust me, when a member of a TV news crew is screaming "Leave your tripod!", the oscillator hath already been shat upon.

Dateline: Kansas City When another 'bad economy' story was interrupted by a swirling storm, a KMBC crew scrambled toward the convection in question. They found it alright, but couldn't quite get ahead of it. The resulting mad dash, captured by fancycam, is the most intense escape tape you'll see not featuring computer generated flying cows.

Dateline: Irving, Texas Rookie players from the Dallas Cowboys were practicing before quite a few cameras when their tent-like facility collapsed around them. Lights, support beams and other heavy things came crashing down, scaring the bejeezus out of everyone and paralyzing a scouting assistant. Through it all, the cameramen behaved like, well, cameramen: they kept rolling

But why? Why do otherwise rational souls risk loss of life or limb simply because there's a Sony on their shoulder? I've postulated opinions before, but let's hear from photojournalist John Woods, of the above tornado ordeal...

There’s something about being behind that lens. I almost feel detached from reality. You can be taping something a block away and feel like you’re miles away. I mean how imposing can a little black and white screen be? When I’m looking through that viewfinder, I feel pretty safe. And to feel that way is stupid, I know this. But there’s a sense of comfort behind the camera. It’s been my home away from home for years now. I know it. I’m familiar with it. It’s been a pain in my neck, an ache in my back, and I swear it’s made my right eye nearsighted, but I love it.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go cower under my news unit. Rain's comin...

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