The Night I Almost Died

I’ve been rescanning some of my old work taken about seven years ago so that I can post some higher resolution images of the images from that period on this site. During the process, I came across the slide of an old boat and recalled how I almost died while taking the image.

Since death and photography has been on my mind since the passing of Bob, I thought I’d share the story of how this was almost the last photo I ever took.

An Old Boat, 2002

It was during the full moon period of May 2002 when I took this image. One of my friends had an interest in my work, and he offered to let me shoot on the land that his family owned, and accompanied me out during the shoot. We arrived at the pond where this old boat was located, and as I was setting up the shot, the only flashlight I had brought along failed. I set up for the photo the best I could with no artificial light to aid me, and locked the shutter open for what I calculated would take an hour long exposure.

During the hour we decided to walk back to his house to try and find a working flashlight. We couldn’t find a working flashlight at his house, so we decided to drive back to mine to get one. The distance between our places was roughly about a mile each way, so it wasn’t much of an issue to go get one, and then walk back to my camera which was out in the field making an exposure.

About halfway between my place and his, he interrupted our conversation we were having in the car and pointed straight ahead. There, in the same lane that we were traveling down, was a set of headlights coming our way. I took a second to watch what was unfolding before realizing that the person who was traveling in our direction, and in the wrong lane, wasn’t going to go back into the proper lane. Reacting quickly to avoid impact I swerved my car onto the shoulder of the road as the car in the wrong lane narrowly by us.

Driving into the gravel on the shoulder of the road threw up a cloud of dust as I veered my bright blue 1991 Pontiac Grand-am onto the shoulder of the highway to avoid a head-on collision with what was probably a drunk driver. After we had narrowly passed each other I got my car back onto the paved road and watched the other car in my rear view mirror. They never got back into the proper lane.

We arrived safely, but shaken at my house and found a working flash light. The drive back to his place was quiet and uneventful. We walked back out to my camera to complete its exposure and took a few more images that night while out under the full moon. I can’t imagine that the image of the boat would have survived through the night if we hadn’t noticed that the other driver was in the wrong lane when we did and had gotten into a major accident. The morning sun would have rose and destroyed the image as we laid in the hospital, or worse.