Those of you who know me well know that I am a fanatic about equipment redundancy and data back up. I have written about it many times in the past. Sometimes, the best laid plans and the most meticulous planning will result in a situation whence there is no recovery. Yes, I was caught with my pants down-again.
Mount Rushmore photographed with my
last line of defense-a cell phone camera.
Case in Point:
My late Spring-early Summer expedition West was in day two of twenty-one days. I had just finished setting up camp at Grizzly Bear Gulch near the Rushmore Memorial. Grizzly Bear Falls is the only South Dakota fall I have never photographed. I grabbed my Canon 40D with the 17-40 MM F4L lens and the Canon 5D with the 70-200 MM F2.8L lens and set out on the trail of the elusive falls.
“Some ten or fifteen seconds of
floundering and I was extricated from
the very cold water of Grizzly Creek”
The trail was deceptive but I finally made my way to the falls. Before snapping a picture, I decided to scan the scene from a rock sticking over the pool below the waterfall. Recent rainfalls in the area had removed layers of protective soil from beneath the boulder on which I stood. The rock gave way and slide me feet-first into the chest-deep water.
The 5D was over my right shoulder and went three feet under the water. The 40D was around my neck and though I tried to hold it above the water level but was unsuccessful. Some ten or fifteen seconds of floundering and I was extricated from the very cold water of Grizzly Creek.
Damage toll: 5D=Dead, 40D=Powers on but gives only errors, 70-200 Zoom: interior puddle that measures about 1/4 cup. 17-40: no apparent damage. Signs of moisture on view screens and damp fog everywhere.
With 19 days to go out of 21 both my cameras were out of commission. The first order of business was to remove batteries and memory cards to minimize damage and hopefully save the few images on the cards. I hiked the mile back to the tent and sought dry clothing.
“Just my luck we would have
great light and wonderful fog!”
While I drove to Rapid City to purchase some emergency desiccant I called my wife to have my backup equipment air freighted to me. It was late and I would not see this equipment for three days. My next call was to my my insurance agent. I insure all my equipment and had no doubt I could get material replaced but would it be in time to save my shooting schedule?
Long story short, another trip to a camera store in Rapid City, SD to verify the mortality of the equipment, I had new gear on the way from B&H. It will arrive on day 8 of 21 saving the bulk of my shooting schedule from disaster.
- Insure your gear
- Keep an inventory list
- Leave a backup camera in a safe place
- Have your phone numbers and policy numbers available.
- Keep your schedule flexible
As a result of having accidentally leaving my 20D backup behind at home, I was forced to live for three days with a 2 MP enV2 cell phone as my primary digital camera. Just my luck we would have great light and wonderful fog! I had to cancel shooting the sculpture workshop at Mount Rushmore and rework my waterfall shooting schedule based on equipment arrival.
The fortunate items in this laundry list of disaster were that my phone and my key fob for my car were also dunked but were in a higher pocket and didn’t get damaged. Otherwise, I would have been stranded with no phone (and no disaster camera).
This exercise proved to me that I cannot out-plan disaster but I can plan to cope with it should it strike. Now, if only I had brought that extra laptop…
Rikk Flohr © 2008