What is it about a camera lens that makes otherwise sensible people behave completely irrationally when they stare at it?
Take these people I saw last week at the Everglades :
That little gray thing that he is posing in front of ? It’s an adult alligator. Here is a closer look of the other guy posing :
Is this really a good idea? That alligator may be basking in the sun, seemingly obliviously. But it is awake, and can (and will, as we have seen) move very quickly if it feels disturbed. Do these people feel brave because the alligator is tolerating their presence?
A few years ago, at the Grand Canyon, I saw a man climb behind the railings to stand at the rim of the Canyon near the Abyss, where there is a steep drop-off. Not only was he standing at the rim, but he was cutting a pose that made me fear he would lose his balance at any moment.
I could not help thinking about these incidents when I read about the climber who had a fatal fall into the Mount St. Helens crater a few days ago. Why, why do people do such things?
This was an experienced climber, and I am sure he would never take unnecessary risks while climbing the mountain. Given his familiarity with Mt. St. Helens, he would have known the crater rim was unstable. Yet, in the heat of posing for the picture, he took a tragic risk.
It may be subjective, and vary from person to person, but there is a dividing line between calculated risk and foolhardiness. As in business, or everything else, it comes down to the risk-reward ratio – you would not take a huge risk for an insignificant reward. There is definitely a thrill, a challenge in taking risks, whether in climbing a mountain or walking down a canyon, but there is also a sense of achievement. What is the big achievement in taking unnecessary risks for a photo? And even if you wanted a “cool” picture, why not take a trick shot which makes it seem as if you are closer, instead of actually standing on the rim?
The ultimate irony is that after all this, these people will most likely file away the photo in an album and never see it again.