I’ve been thinking about getting the DA 15mm, and one of the members of a photography forum I frequent suggested I go out and shoot some photos at 15mm to see if it was wide enough, since that was my primary concern. I was in the midst of typing responses when I thought “Hey, I really should go do this. Like RIGHT NOW.”
Since it pouring rain, I decided to forego the non-weatherproof DA 12-24 and opted instead for my barely-used DA* 16-50, figuring that 16mm is pretty darn close to 15mm for my experiment and that lens can withstand an arctic blizzard and come out fine. I also brought along the DA* 200 (also weatherproof), because the place I had in mind is in the middle of the wildlife prairie reserve here, and I would REALLY be kicking myself if I came across the wild bison and didn’t have anything longer than 50mm.
When I got to the parking area, I realized I was the only person there (probably not a huge surprise considering the weather). I duly called a friend to let someone know where I was and set off down the trail. The trail runs by a body of water known as a sink, and it’s rather acclaimed for being a guaranteed spot to see alligators in the wild, but they usually stick to the water or the banks, and with the banks being fairly steep and a raised boardwalk for pedestrians running around the water, I’ve always felt relatively safe (even though I usually forego the boardwalk and wander around in the prairie).
I was out in the grasslands, beyond the safety of the boardwalk and miles from any other person, switching between the 200mm and the 16-50, taking my normal shots of moss…
as I walked along. (Sidenote: I was much more enamored with the 200mm lens today rather than the 16-50). As the temperature grew warmer and the rain subsided, I was just wrestling out of my raincoat when I turned the corner only to see THIS blocking the path ahead of me :
I froze. Then I slowly raised the camera and started shooting. I was just looking around, trying to figure out the best way to get to relative safety without arousing the gator’s interest when I saw another alligator so close to me that I could barely get its head in the frame with the DA* 200:
Somehow, I managed to stop my shaking hands long enough to get a couple of shots that weren’t blurry. As the gator closest to me made its way to the water, I was able to inch my way backwards without tripping, shooting all the while.
So, lesson learned. With an alligator that close, you’re better off having the DA* 50-135.