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Life VS Photo?

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

There is serious risk involved in Adventure Sport photography. I know because I spend a great deal of time trying to ignore it to get the shot.

As I have matured over the last 4 days and met different 'Togs', athletes and adventurers, I have slowly tried to calm down just a little in hopes to prolong this amazing career of mine.

The idea of risking one's live to get the shot might seem silly if you aren't in this game but when I get an idea for a photo, I find it very hard to focus on anything else until I have that image. Sometimes, my life may not be at risk, but the project and or event might be worse off should something happen to me… not ideal!

I've just about done it all for a photo: free soloing cliffs, standing on moving cars, run technical terrain with camera in hand and even encouraged a Downhill MTBer to get as close as possible while speeding along a trail at 40kph. Very often, the danger I put myself in, is hardly given a thought.

I arrived at peak 5 just after the team because of … traffic (let's call it that). In a flurry to get going, knowing I could not keep up with that caliber of athlete on any hill - with a camera in hand, I left for the Chain Ladders without double checking my gear. Off I went, running trails on minimal sleep with a decent drop just off trail, as the night sky became our neighborhood. It was meant to be a chilly -4 deg, I reckon it was. What made it cold was the wind. It was not comfortable by any means.

I managed to keep ahead of the guys and tried to set up a shot and just as I started taking the long exposure Ryno yelled, “Short Cut!” Now not only was I behind but I stuffed up my shot. Motivated to catch them to get another, I pushed hard. They were too quick.

Short story, shorter. I found myself at the bottom of the chain ladders without an athlete in sight. Determined to get a shot, I decided to wait for them on their return. I calculated their pace, added our running-in time and return time from my point, I figured I could hold off the -4 weather and strong winds with nothing but a single thin down, tights and a Bonatti Jacket. I had to get the shot like this! Don’t judge my photoshop, the unreal things is these athletes would look like this!

Chain Ladders, Drakensberg - @Terence Vrugtman

3 Hours, 500 Jumping jacks, 200 mountain climbers, and tired tri-cepts from way too many push ups, I came to with a icey, pebbly slap in the face from the wind.

I had passed out. Perhaps fatigue or the cold, who knows for how long. Did I miss them? Did they miss me? Regardless, I wasn't in the best of shape to be in the Drakensberg at 11pm on a winter's night, unprepared and alone. I decided to leave the shot and head back to the car where I could warm up and think about what an idiot I was. Sure, some shots I take are epic and worth it. This time I was reckless and could have stuffed up a record attempt or worse, just not woken up.

Anyways, I took a selfie.

Drakensberg Night Sky Selfie - @TVrugtman

A few more night sky pics.

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