I went out shooting at the weekend. Which turned out to be a very bad idea. A very very bad idea. I discovered last week that a section of coastline not far from me had lots of wooden coastal protection. Coastal protection = photographers delight so I decided to head out there on Saturday (along with Jess who, as it was sunny, decided to leave the house). We had a lovely walk but alas it was too sunny and I only shot two frames. The tide was a little too far out as well so there wasn’t really much to photograph as I was in a long exposure mood.
I decided to head back at sunrise the next morning when the light would be a bit flatter and the tide would be all the way in. I woke up Sunday morning wide awake, grabbed my gear and shot out of the house. Half an hour later I was parked up and walking through the dunes, it was drizzling a little but I thought I’d endure, I could always run back to the car if conditions got worse. I setup and shot 5 or so frames, keeping my eye on the tide as it turned out I had arrived just before high tide so the water was coming in fast.
On the 8th or so frame as I was setting up the water came shooting in up the side of one of the coastal protection barriers and headed straight for my bag. I ran back and snatched up my bag only to turn and see my camera ditch sideways into the sand. ARGH! I ran back and up-righted the tripod to find my camera encased in grit. I dusted it off and re-seated the tripod just as the tide came sweeping in again and half inundated my camera bag. ARGH AGAIN! I ran back, rescued the bag and moved it further inland just as my tripod decided to blow over again and ditch my camera into the sea.
AAARRGGHHHH!! I ran back, rescued the camera and ran inland. Well, the water had washed off the sand which was nice but water and cameras are never a good mix. Fortunately there are very few electronics in my Bronica. I grabbed my gear and decided to head home. I split my SLR kit up and put it on the passenger seat of the car with the air blowers on full.
When I got home I used a brush to dust off as much sand as I could and left the gear to dry. It’s still drying now and every few hours I dust off any loose sand. Handily the squeak on my 80mm lens has disappeared but alas my 50mm makes a horrible grinding noise when focusing. It looks like no water got into the camera body or the film back which is a bonus; it’s just the 50mm lens that seems to have taken most of the damage. Ill dry it and clean it as best I can but time will tell if any salt remains inside to cause any damage.
I decided to develop my film using PMK Pyro, praying that it would have some good shots on. Alas, on removing the film from the tank it was almost transparent. I’m not sure what happened, it looks like it didn’t develop fully. My guess is the Pyro was dead as it was a very old stock solution, but I can’t be sure. So now I am left with a potentially knackered camera and no pictures to show for it. Damn.
But here’s what I learnt from my day of tragedy:
- heavy tripods are a wise investment
- sand and seawater do not compliment camera gear
- PMK Pyro solutions need to be used up quickly
- incoming tides move in rapidly
- cameras take a long time to dry out
- hats are useful for covering lenses
- it is hard to keep filters sand and water free when it is raining and you're on a beach
Hopefully you will learn a lesson from this tale of woe. Keep your gear dry and avoid wet and windy beaches. Right, message sent - i'm off tripod shopping...