(Totally different) smoooooke, on the (totally different) water

Sometimes, things don't go exactly as planned. Things almost never go exactly as planned.

On the evening of Friday, Jan. 11, 2018 I made a three-(rush)-hour drive from Philadelphia to Tarrytown, New York in anticipation of the demolition of the Tappan Zee Bridge the next day. I’d done my homework. I’d spent hours on Google Street View and reading articles in local media looking for the best possible vantage spot — excited to take to take slow-motion video and photos of its implosion. I had two cameras, three lenses, a tripod …

… and no idea the demolition had been postponed due to high winds.

So there I was, in a very nice Hilton just around the corner from Riverwalk Park (what a nice park!), futzing with my phone and looking for ways to make the best of a wasted trip, when Monica Rahman came to my rescue.

Monica, an acquaintance I met a few years ago, had been looking to put together a Meetup event — she’d pose for pictures surrounded by colored smoke from wire-pull smoke grenades. But few photographers showed interest in going out in the bitter cold, and the event was looking like a bust. She’d never gotten quite as far as picking a location or planning logistics.

Thank goodness for free afternoons and adventurous spirits.

We got together at a marina off Brooklyn’s Dead Horse Bay (take Flatbush Avenue, and keep going … and going) with, really, no clue what was there or what we’d do when we arrived. A friendly security guard let us park without the required pass. We started wandering down a beach that’s seen better days.

More forces working against us: Did I mention it was cold? Monica had come in a fierce DIY gown — so freezing as I was, I can only imagine how the breeze off the water felt for her. Oh, yeah. The breeze. There was plenty of it — which is great when you’ve got no idea what to expect from smoke grenades, and you’ve got no weights on the light stand you happened to have in the car. And I happened to be wearing my old glasses, the kind that turn into sunglasses when it’s bright … which, as it turns out, isn’t all that helpful for looking through a camera’s viewfinder.

So: We were shivering, the smoke was flying anywhere and everywhere (but nowhere helpful), and I couldn’t see a thing. Thank goodness (as I learned that day) my Sony a7iii’s eye-autofocus works so well with my new Sigma 135mm Art lens. Thank goodness Monica was so patient. Thank goodness smoke-grenade dye washes off easily.

Here’s what fortune favoring the bold (after first punking the bold incessantly) got us:

I’ll take bad luck like that any day.