Going for an assignment where you’re sure of a good picture can cause more stress than you imagine.

The annual mid-winter Pingsi sky lantern event in Taiwan, one of the most colorful festivals in the world, is an event where most photographers would say, “Yeah, I can shoot that easily and make a nice picture.” The mass release of balloon-like lanterns usually occurs on the 15th day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, celebrated by ethnic Chinese around the world.

You look at similar shots in the Reuters archives and wonder whether your pictures this year can match them.

Arriving at the rainy village of Pingsi (it rains at least 200 days a year, according to the locals) at around noon, I was mildly outraged to find that more than 100 tripods and stepladders had been set up near where the lanterns were to be released. The event was scheduled for 6 pm, (which means the more than 100 amateur photographers who came on their own were way more serious than a wire photographer like me). The only consolation was that I was hours earlier than competing wire services and got a good spot on the media platform.

That day I understood the real meaning of the Singlish word “Gabra”. Pronounced “GA-brah”, it means in a state of confusion or chaos, confused, frightened, shocked; i.e. panic.