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After squeezing the shutter on a lights-out sequence that you instantly recognize as highly unlikely to happen anytime soon – y’know, I’m talking about the kind of play that comes around about as often as Haley’s Comet – you plead internally that it not end up looking like every Bigfoot photograph: blurry. That would be the most mortifying result imaginable. You could do without a fourth-inning double play, that will probably come around again later that game, or, if not, then surely tomorrow. But producing a big blur on a play like this will surely haunt you for a while to come.

This blunder is Buckneresque in scale and cannot be explained away on AIM to your drooling editor with sheer flippancy, like, ‘aw, shucks, I shot a couple of blanks on that one, my bad. But instead I got that much-vaunted shot of those fans holding up their D-Fence sign.’ Nice try. This is the time you wish you could throw back at them that ol’ line we get from various miscreants as they walk out of court past an eager press corps and predictably leave us with the words, ‘my lawyer has advised me not to talk’. Whatever goods you cook up won’t quell the pain you’re feeling even if they do appease your editor or client. But if by chance your sucky excuse-fest works, then you have the kind of talent of persuasion in you that could probably also be used to talk a starving dog off a meat truck.

Sharpening this ball of blur will go over about as well as trying to climb Everest without oxygen. You’re almost out of options, but before you’re ready to concede you blew it, you scurry and reach deep, really deep, . . . so deep in fact that you’re now leaving fingernail trails at the bottom of the barrel: this time, you offer to submit a charcoal rendering of this electrifying play on which you whiffed, or perhaps a courtroom sketch will do in the absence of the digital evidence it was your job to produce. This will keep the expectant editor from pointing his stink finger at you and might even get you a pat on the back. Could this really work ? Not really, no. You just as quickly realize that it might only induce more blowback and leave your already-damaged rep in greater tatters. You gotta come up with something fast – short of the truth – before the ice completely cracks and you know that time is running out to salvage this photographic root canal you brought about with your own ineptitude. The only saving grace here, it occurs to you, is if your fellow photographers blew it every bit as badly as you did. A-ha ! Relying on the suckitude of colleagues is normally not what you want to depend on, but finally you may have stumbled upon an out. You look around the photo well covertly like the weak hitter standing at first base who glances up at the auxiliary scoreboard to check and see if his soft roller earned him a “Hit” or indeed an “Error.” It feels weasely, but might yet get you off the hook. What you see is a few other inconsolable photographers with hangdog faces and it dawns on you that you may not have to explain away this gaffe and deal with all its attendant headaches, after all. Because if a tree falls in the forest and no shutter click seizes the occasion, then we can kind of pretend not to miss what we . . . missed.

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