A recent photography trip turned out to be a series of unfortunate events which I thought of writing an article on. My luck pushed me to use all my preparations for such unfortunate events on a photography trip. The events kept happening but being prepared proved very helpful. My friends also were there to help set things right.
Passing the memory cards through airport scanner
Memory cards are electronic devices and susceptible to electro-magenetic damage. I always recommend handing them over to get them screened by the X-Ray scanner. X-Rays do not have any detrimental effects on the memory cards. However on this one particular airport, the security people insisted on passing the camera bag, first through the electromagnetic scanner and then X-Ray. They did that multiple times. I was scared that my memory cards would have been wiped out, but thankfully they did not. Just in case they would have been wiped out, I had a second copy in my luggage as well. Anyway, this was not an unfortunate event but just the beginning of the series.
Lesson learnt (reinforced in this case): Always have a back-up
The photography plan goes haywire
I was planning to photograph lots of people in a hospital and maybe some patients too who had undergone eye surgeries. The visit so happened that it coincided with a series of festivals and to my surprise, the whole hospital was vacant. Not a single patient! I did not get even a single good photograph.
To top it most of my trip was spent traveling rather than photographing on the location. All I could do was to capture some photographs of my fellow travelers. I did try some photographs from the moving car too.
Even in the villages, where I wanted to venture out and photograph, there was a small celebration planned locally due to which I was unable to walk down the streets of the village and interact with the villagers.
Lesson learnt: Things may not be as planned. So be prepared to photograph whatever comes your way.
I carried a full frame camera with an auto-focus 50mm lens. I rarely use autofocus but on this particular trip I ended up using auto-focus mode quite often. Most of the photographs were the spur of moment kind and auto-focus helped. I also had a tripod with me which never saw the light of the day on the trip. I did miss a speedlight in my camera bag. I had not carried it based on the assignment details, however I had to click some low light photographs of a few gatherings too and I ended up using high ISOs.
Lesson learnt: Be ready for the unexpected. Carry some spare equipment which just might come in use.
Camera bag gets torn
On one fine day, the buckle holding my camera strap broke. I guess I was carrying too much of weight. This was during a flight transit and not exactly when I was photographing. When I transit, I prefer to carry all my important stuff inside the cabin. This is just in case, my luggage gets lost or delayed. In such a scenario, at least my photography will not suffer. The added weight took a toll and my comfortable camera bag turned into a nightmare. I borrowed a scissors from a friend on the trip and cut two holes in the camera bag. To these holes I attached the strap from my duffel bag. This helped me carry my camera equipment safely till the end of the trip. I also bought a cloth bag for vegetables from a local market, just in case the camera bag gave way. Now I am back home and the camera bag has now been replaced by a similarly comfortable canvas bag. The cloth bag that I bought on the trip is being used by my wife for buying groceries.
Lesson learnt: Inspect the camera bag minutely before a trip even if it is from a reputed company. (Buying a Camera Bag)
Memory Card failure
On the last day, the card that was in my camera failed to be recognized by the camera. This was my first memory card failure. Reason not known. Was the airport scanning to blame? I can’t comment. Only fact that I know is that the card was not in the box that I carry my cards in (see the link below for details). The card itself was fairly new and from a reputed company. None of the photographs were lost since I always back up my work. Card failure was also not a bad thing since I carry multiple small capacity cards.
Lesson learnt: No matter what manufacturers say, memory cards can fail. Try to follow these guidelines to get the most out of them – Caring for memory cards
Almost everyone in the group fell ill, sometime or the other. One of the friends had a whole lot of medicine with her. This helped many of us. Thankfully, I did not feel the symptoms as badly as others till the time I returned back from the trip.
Lesson learnt: Carry the essential medicines along (That is what my mother always used to say)
(Nikon Df with Nikkor 50mm lens at f/8, 1/100 sec at ISO 100)
Was the trip a failure? No, it was not. I take pride in saying that I was prepared for most of the problems. There was a silver lining in every dark cloud that saved the day. In fact, the trip was very useful. I was able to capture some really good photographs. I made many new friends and spend time with some of the best people I know of.