Updated: Jan 28
Michael Scott Lees
I was camped at Sam’s Camp near Boggy Plain, I’d just got back to the tent after an exhausted morning shoot, when I looked up and across the valley half a kilometre away was a mob of brumbies. I was so tired that I said “right if your still there after breakfast and a rest, then I’ll try and get some shots of you”, thinking that there is no way they’ll be there after breakfast and even then there is no way I’ll get close enough anyway.
The adrenalin was rushing through me, I was shacking, I said “control it Michael and think, use your natural instincts of composition and bloody make sure your doing everything right”
So after breakfast and a recovery, I pocked my head outside the tent and low and behold the brumbies where still in a creek depression at the side of the valley. Stunned I said “right I’ll make my way cross the valley well above them and then ski close to the tree line of the valley and try to surprise them from above”, naturally I said to myself “this isn’t going to work, but heck I’m not in any rush to get anywhere”. So off I went and made it to the other side of the valley near the tree line about 200 metres slightly above their elevation.
I couldn't believe my good luck and with my excitement rising I dumped my camera bag and polls and started skiing down to them with just the camera in my hand and crouched down low. They where tucked in amongst the tree line where the creek came out into the valley, I was within 60 metres of them when I suddenly thought, “once they get spooked then they’ll head up the creek”. With this unwanted scenario in my head I skied on and was within 20 metres of them when the stallion, who I could just see through the trees spotted me and off the brumbies went, I lost them for 5 seconds and was sure they had headed up the creek, but I still skied on hoping they would come out into the valley. I was just within 15 metres of the creek when the brumbies burst out just in front of me heading along the creek out into the valley.
I couldn’t believe it, I was skiing right next to a mob of brumbies in the snow, the trouble was I was struggling to stay on my skies and couldn’t get the camera around to take a shot. Then I hit some smooth snow and regained my balance and swung the camera around, I saw the shot it was the stallion leading the mob out into the valley. I was just about to press the button when my skies hit some rough snow and I lost balance and couldn’t compose the shot. In my head I yelled “NO”, I’d just missed a once in a lifetime shot and the brumbies where heading away from me. Then all of a sudden the stallion stopped and decide it was better to cross the creek and head up the slope along the valley tree line. I couldn’t believe my luck, they where moving into a position where I could get them and the Main Range in the background.
With adrenalin running through my veins and the incredible elation and heavy breathing from the physical exertion of the last 15 seconds, I started shooting, trying to control all of my emotion and physical exertion. The adrenalin was rushing through me, I was shacking, I said “control it Michael and think, use your natural instincts of composition and bloody make sure your doing everything right”. I’d preset all of my camera settings so at least I didn’t have to think too much about that, my mind was racing but it felt so slow, I was trying to push it faster, just making sure that I had done the best I could for such a magical moment. Had I got the shot I wanted?
The brumbies slowed as they sensed they were out of danger, I slowed and just marveled at such an amazing turn of events. The brumbies disappeared over the rise and I just sat down with the biggest smile on my face. I just couldn’t believe it! I laid back into the snow and breathed a sigh of amazement. Then suddenly the brain kicked in again. What if the brumbies where going to cross the valley further down, I couldn’t let that opportunity pass me by.
So exhausted, I got back up again and with surging anticipation I skied out to the middle of the valley and waited. I waited for what seemed like forever, then disappointedly I thought “you’ve used up your luck for the day” and got up and started making my way back to my gear. After 20 paces I turned around just in the slightest hope that the brumbies would be crossing the valley, and low and behold there they where crossing the valley, once again the brain went into shooting mood, but this time, I had time and was able to take the moment in and compose with out the need for speed. Once they had disappeared into the trees on the other side of the valley, I turned and headed back up to my gear shacking my head with this permanent smile of amazement on my face.
I came across that mob again three hours later, but that’s another story…