My poor machine.
My poor camera. So abused. I’ve carried the thing from the pitiless dry season of Nicaragua to the tangible humidity of the Amazon. I brought it to the snows of Amsterdam, then took it to the broiler of the Burmese summer. It’s spent a lot of time on the beach and snapped on top of Mount Pichincha above Quito, 15,696 feet above sea level.
I can’t really blame it for failing now and then.
It started about a year ago, when K went back to Belgium and I stayed on alone in Santa Cruz. My first attempt at a picture would come out nearly black, undecipherable and gloomy. It’s not a sensor problem, all the setting are correct, from F/stop to shutter speed and ISO, it’s some fundamental problem with the hardware. Every now and then it goes the other way and I’ll get a whitewash of overexposure, glaring white that sears the retina and completely obscures the message just as effectively as the darkest shadows.
The problem followed me the breadth of Turkey and the length of Sri Lanka, popped up while trekking in Myanmar and on the beach in Malaysia. Not a big deal, it wasn’t debilitating, and I still witnessed and paid homage to so much beauty in this world.
But I know I’ve missed some things, the underlying image I was looking for hidden by the malfunction.
There was the time in Turkey, when the sound of hooves approached through the ancient and crumbling streets of Mardin, and I had my camera pressed to my eye as an enormous man on a brilliantly colored donkey came around the corner. My shutter snapped, only barely faster than his hand coming up to shake a fist at me. The sound of the camera was drowned out by his cursing me in Kurdish, the message clear though the vocabulary was not.
The picture I took? A whitewash of confused lines, no subject, just a painful overexposure.
I guess it’s no surprise that an instrument so poorly mistreated would fail to deliver a clear picture now and then. I forgive it. And if another instrument through which I perceive the world sometimes generates a darkened, opaque image, should I again be so forgiving? I think so.
Time to start a dream journal, and see if I can edit out some of the darkness. There might be a path in there somewhere…
Purely out of curiosity, what make/model of camera are you using?
I must tell you, if my gear was malfunctioning, I’d have to get it repaired or replace it, pronto. (I’ve been carrying a spare camera body in the field with me, routinely, for the last 10 years or so.)
I use a Canon T3i (and almost always a 18-135mm lens), a couple months shy of two years old, pretty heavy usage with a lot of time in my hand. The problem has decreased since I’ve been back, though I don’t take nearly as many photos here as I do while traveling. It has (thus far) only ever affected the first shot or two, and disappears if I change modes, even if I don’t actually take a picture in the other mode. It’s kind of annoying, but I’m hoping to ride this camera out for awhile longer before replacing it. I just hope it doesn’t go out on me entirely while I’m someplace where replacing it would be difficult/extra expensive.
Tell me about a camera’s own independent life. I have two of the kind now. They have been exposed to sea fog, dust and snow. A creek found its way to the optic in the middle of a beautiful sunset without spoiling the first pictures. All is forgiven 😉
Gotta love it when our devices develop personalities. Maybe I just need to take my camera out for dinner some time, maybe catch a movie afterwards. And NOT take pictures of the food.
Great pics–when it works.
Thanks! I know it’s made me miss a couple good ones, particularly on the rare times when I try to photograph people, but that’s a pretty small percentage of the time.