Most any photographer that has spent even a modest amount of time shooting has experienced moments of blunders and mistakes that, as far as he/she is concerned, at the time, were horrific catastrophes of monumental proportions. Then of course, years later, they become funny stories that we just love to tell.
disgusting it is. Imagine a 30 pound bird letting loose of – God knows what. And if this ever happens to you – whatever you do, do not look up! Just don’t.
Words can't describe the feelings when you've realized you made a serious technical mistake. Pre-digital, this of course usually meant when you got the film back from processing. It's also embarrassing because you know the lab guys are laughing at your rolls of frame-after-frame, blank film. Back in the medium format days I had to rent a Mamiya lens for a Yosemite backpacking trip. I had been working with a RB67 for awhile and figured I knew everything about the system. This was clearly confirmed to not be quite accurate when I received about 10 220 rolls of completely blank film. I blamed the rented lens profusely and with language I had never even heard before. I even brought the RB body in to prove it could not have been the camera. That's when they showed me the mirror lock-up button, which was, of course, still locked-up. The humanity. Seven days of body torturing Sierra Nevada trekking, including lugging 30 pounds of camera gear and tripod, and nothing to show for it. There needs to be professionals who specialize in therapy for photographers.
Although I primarily shoot digital now, I do occasionally like to dust off the old 8x10 view camera for landscapes. There is just something about seeing a photographer with his head under a dark cloth that seems to fascinate people. I always seem to attract the smart alecs. “Thought them things went out after the great depression!” or “What, you watching a porno under there?” My response, “Yeah, and it’s of your mother.” Not realizing she was standing next to him.
If you’ve ever worked with a view camera then you know how much work it is and that it’s a series of non-stop adjustments. Checking the light meter, then rechecking because the sun moved. One day when trying to capture El Capitan in all its glory I must have been under that cloth for about ten minutes. With my back starting to get stiff, some kid young kid thought it would be really funny to suddenly jump up with his face right in front of the lens, which of course scared the holy outta me, which hurt my back more. At that particular time I was having anger management challenges and threw the light meter at the kid, not really meaning to hit him in the beak, which sent him tumbling into the shallow stream, crying, and running back to camp to get his daddy. As far as I was concerned he owed me a new meter!
I will admit the transition to digital had more than its share of humorous moments. But genuinely funny. Nothing stupid like realizing shooting RAW doesn’t mean photographing naked! I was really clueless when I bought the cutting-edge Canon EOS 10D. My impression of digital meant simply that instead of shooting on film you are shooting on an image sensor. I loved shooting black and white, which with film sometimes meant using tone altering filters, such as the good ‘ol 25. For the life of me though I could not figure out why that new Canon kept making the pictures red. There was something clearly wrong with the camera!
So, as serious as most of us take the photographic hobby and profession, it’s certainly not without its lighter moments. Whether it’s looking for stunning scenics on a Hawaiian island and being misdirected to an all-male clothing optional area – or not fully connecting a $500 lens while hanging over a 3,000’ drop; while traumatic at the time will always make for some great stories later.
But whatever you do, avoid crazy mommy cows!