Spending the day in pain and my arm in a sling was not how I had envisioned my birthday yesterday, but that is how the cookie crumbled. After the medical debacle on Tuesday, flying and participating in any of the outdoor activities that involved paragliding per se were out of the question. It was a good thing I packed my camera equipment, because I became the group photographer instead, which is not a bad thing. It was certainly my first time to photograph paragliders in action, and also the first time to shoot one-handed with the left hand! It was no problem with the small digital camera which fit in one hand, I just shot upside-down, but the quality of the images just wasn’t up to speed. At some point I decided to take out the regular camera, which I haven’t done in months, and figure out how on earth to do this.
While doing the ground handling exercises before the accident, the canopy breaks had to be adjusted for me, since my arms are shorter than the average European paraglider, and I just wasn’t getting the full power of the brakes like the rest of my companions in the group. In a similar manner, I discovered that I needed half a hand more to shoot properly with a regular camera and a telephoto lens. Thank goodness for image stabilisers!
Needless to say, it was emotionally painful to watch everyone take flight and soar with the canopy. The frustration and disappointment had me close to tears most of the time, and it was just as well that I was perched on a little slope to the side to get the best angle for everyones take-off. As the day wore on I got the hang of holding the camera at a very odd and tiring angle but the photographs turned out decent.
The next day, while battling more frustration and doing my best to ignore the pain in the shoulder and immobility of the arm, I tried a different method and fiddled around with the sling so I could have a more comfortable handling of the camera. Far from ideal, it was much better than the day before.
What do I take away from the experience? That birthdays at the beach are safer! But at some point, once my shoulder heals, I would like to try paragliding again and finally get my feet off the ground.