Date: 03-24-04 04:14
ok here's some info. i got on my own initiatives. As i speak, I'm searching the Net for paintball related photos:
Shooting photos, shot by paintballs
When I was younger, I wanted to be a war photographer. Robert Capa was my hero and I dreamed of being in the middle of the action crouching with my camera as bullets whizzed overhead. Now, after last Sunday, I think I must have been crazy. While I didn't exactly venture into a war zone, I got my first taste of what it's like to photograph, literally, under the gun.
I was assigned the New England Paintball Championships at Birch Hill Paintball Field in York, Maine. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but I wasn't prepared to see hundreds of "players" wearing what looked like space suits and toting semiautomatic weapons. John Lydston, the organizer, met me at the field and told me I could go into the game since the tall protective netting made photographing from any safe distance impossible.
Willing to do anything for a picture, I was pumped up and ready to go. He handed me a shirt, a plastic shield and a face mask, and sent me in with the caveat that I might get hit, but that paintballs only sting a little bit. My mind was reeling with exciting picture possibilities and I felt so cool being in the action ... then the game started. Players scattered and ducked behind obstacles leaving me wandering the field looking for people.
"Watch out," the judges kept telling me, "you're walking right into a fire zone." Where? I couldn't even see these people, let alone the tiny balls of paint that blasted out of their guns at an alarming rate. But I had my plastic shield, so I walked around confidently pressing my camera against the goggles of my face mask thinking only about getting the best picture. I was invincible. Besides, I figured the players would probably try to avoid hitting the photographer. How very wrong I was. The first one hit the back of my thigh. Now, I'm no wimp (I'm a lacrosse goalie), but these things don't "sting a little bit," they hurt! And this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Before I knew it, I was being pelted everywhere by these invisible little balls. My arms and legs completely covered in paint and starting to bruise. Instead of getting good shots, I was being shot at. Repeatedly. I was caught in a crossfire and needed to make my escape. Suddenly, photographing through a net was sounding better and better. I tried sliding against the net to stay out of harm's way, but somehow that only made things worse. My only recourse would be to drop to my hands and knees and crawl underneath the fire. I was inching my way toward the exit when all of a sudden my vision went completely blurry.
My first thought was that a paintball had penetrated the face mask and hit my eye, rendering me blind. I was stunned for a minute, worst-case scenarios swimming through my head. Then I felt something wet and sticky sliding down my hand. It must be blood. But wait, blood isn't yellow. That's right, a big glob of paint had hit my camera lens and was dripping through my fingers. That was it. They could hit me all they wanted, but when my camera became the victim, it was all over.
Fortunately, the game ended shortly thereafter and I was able to get out safely and tend to my lens. My thankfulness of surviving was short-lived, however, when I discovered I had only taken 11 pictures. Not very eager to go back into the field, I took another of Lydston's suggestions and climbed a 15-foot ladder to try shooting down over the netting. This was working fairly well, I was not in any direct line of fire, and I was getting decent shots.
Then came the announcement that all cars on the right side of the street were getting towed. Guess where I parked. I scurried down the ladder and ran to the street to see only two cars left, one of which was mine. What a day! And it was only 10 a.m. I had to rush to my next assignment, so I photographed a couple more paintballers calibrating their guns, which meant shooting away from me, then I got out of there as fast as possible.
I was an absolute mess. My arms and legs were covered in dried paint and mud, my hair was sticky and sweaty from being under the helmet, and my gray tennis shoes had taken on the color of yellow, green, white and brown. Not the most professional look.
To make matters even worse, my next assignment was at a church and going home to shower and change was not an option. Everyone at Little Harbor Chapel was very understanding, though, and did not judge me by my sweaty, dirty, paint-covered appearance. Luckily, most of the paint has come out of my clothes and shoes, and my lens was fine after a good, thorough cleaning. In the end, among the many things I will take with me from this internship — invaluable work experience, photographic practice and learning, not to mention a shopping bag full of clips — I can add a few lingering bruises and a great war story.
JT Proteus II