The Occasional Unexpected Photograph That Blows Your Mind


It happens every now and then. Out of nowhere, an unexpected photo op jumps out at me. To say the resulting photograph blows my mind (in a good way, of course), is not much of an overstatement.

The downside is that these rare occasions, usually involving just one or two really outstanding shots, are not all that easy to work into a post. Even when they do more or less fit a piece of writing, they tend to get somewhat lost in the clutter.

That’s not going to happen with the water tank photos that jumped out at me today. They’re just too…mind blowing. Not gonna let those suckers get away, nosiree Bob! Not after they snuck up on me like they did. No way.

A few months ago, we installed a relatively huge water storage tank here on our off grid property, a 2825 gallon Bushman beast that replaced the older 500 gallon tank. The switchover made good sense from several angles, about which I’ve written in an earlier post. Having the much larger storage capacity has been really, really nice. In fact, it’s been practically a necessity since we (a) added a third person, Alta, to our household and (b) added a 50 gallon, propane powered hot water tank to our plumbing system. Instantly, we jumped from an average of 600 gallons of water usage per month to more like 3,000 gallons of usage, mostly due to the ability to get a hot shower any time we want one.

The Bushman did, however, have one (just one!) negative. It was extremely difficult to take a quick look inside the tank to see how low the water level might be getting. This is a top loader, so you’d think you could just peek down through that opening–but the entry port is screened to keep out some of the larger debris that might come in from the well. It’s a tricky viewing at best, and unless the sunlight is really strong at the time of observation, mistakes in judging the water level in there are all too possible.

On the far side, there is a four inch overflow port that could be used for viewing, but that one is screened, too. Besides, it also has an external elbow to direct overflow downward, so unless I could learn to see around corners….

The big 14″ diameter top cover could be removed entirely by backing out three screws, but….

And then, just this afternoon, I finally got it. Around 4:00 p.m., pumping water and frustrated with my inability to really see how it was going, it hit me. There’s also a port cover tucked into a four inch port on the near side, high up, at the same level as the overflow port. It was time I bit the bullet, backed out the three screws holding the port plug, and–why, would you look at that? It’s made to be repeatedly removed and put back in place. The screws get to snug down in metal receivers. The plug has a rubber gasket, for Pete’s sake.

This is no tougher than adding oil to the Yamaha generator, which has to be done every few days. You learn something new every day.

Ah, and the view in there. With the late afternoon sun hitting the tank, it’s a glorious scene. Out of its hip case came the Canon PowerShot. Who’d stop to think the inside of a plain, drab plastic water tank would, when filling with water, convert to a glorious scene simply begging to be photographed?

Quite simply, who knew?

Inside our 2825 gallon Bushman water storage tank as it's being filled on January 22, 2014.  Photo entirely unretouched.

Inside our 2825 gallon Bushman water storage tank as it’s being filled on January 22, 2014. Photo entirely unretouched.

Inside the water tank with about 20 minutes of pumping left to go.  The bright circle is the overflow exit pipe.

Inside the water tank with about 20 minutes of pumping left to go. The bright circle is the overflow exit pipe.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about photography–and I suspect this is true for professional photographers as well–it’s that you never know when the photo op of your life may pop right up in your face. When it does, you’re either going to have a camera on your person or, in many cases, miss the shot entirely. I know that from experience, and yes, I’ve missed some dandies. But I’m grateful I didn’t miss this entirely unexpected photo op, and who knows? The next surprise offering may be even better.