Grumpy New Year …

Bruce Little / landscape, photography / / 0 Comments / Like this

I’d gotten into the mindset that I’d be having a lie-in this Saturday morning. The initial forecast a couple of days ago was for a totally cloudy weekend. No photography for me then but, hey, that meant I could have a wine-soaked Friday evening and maybe watch a good film.

Then I checked the forecast again.

The cloud was forecast to clear by 9. Sunrise was at 8:15. With a bit of give in the timing of the forecast it looked like I might get a good sky for the golden hour, so it was off to bed early(ish) for me and off up to Dartmoor to see what I could get. It is a new year resolution of mine to hunt out new locations and, having spent much of 2011 photographing coastal seascapes, I have added Dartmoor to the list of places that I really should explore this year.

Easing myself into my resolution I thought I’d just potter around Hay Tor and Saddle Tor and see what compositions I could get. Turning up well before sunrise it was still raining, and pretty damn windy, but I had faith in the forecast and wandered off trying to pick out a viewpoint with my head-torch. I found an OK, but not too inspiring, viewpoint on Saddle Tor and, sure enough, with about 20 minutes to go the cloud began to break and there was a good-ol’ letterbox on the horizon promising some first-light low rays to light up the scenery around me.

Then things began to go wrong.

The letterbox filled in, and the cloud passing overhead began to seemingly “bunch up” on the horizon, meaning no decent light until way after sunrise. It was clear overhead so I stayed put on the moor  but took the time to find a better viewpoint. Eventually I found a composition which might work, so set the camera up on the tripod, framed my composition, and waited.  A few minutes later I rooted around in my camera bag — what for I can’t remember now — and was abruptly stopped in my tracks by the sound of the tripod falling over, a victim of the strong winds. I don’t care about a tripod falling over by itself, but when it has a Canon EOS 5Dmkii and 24-105L lens on top, that’s a different matter. I swore, picked everything up, gave it a quick visual check, dried it off, and thought “phew – no damage done”.

[edit #1: Turns out I had a broken leg clamp on my tripod]

This had really hacked me off, and the thickening cloud-bank did little to lighten the mood. For some reason I didn’t like where I was any more but, rather than head home, I headed off looking for a post-sunrise location elsewhere.

Ending up at “the tree“, which I’d always promised myself I would avoid, I set up a compo and waited for the light. There were little patches of light hitting the ground in the middle distance around me now, and I promised myself it would eventually come good where I was. Firing off a test shot to check out the compo, I heard the mirror lock up, and then pressed the shutter release button on my cable release again to expose the scene. Nothing. Tried switching it off and switching it on again. As soon as the camera took power from the battery the mirror would lock up again and I couldn’t release the shutter to take a shot.  I couldn’t get the damn thing to do anything. I packed up and trudged and drove the hour home in a mood thinking, not really of the cost of the repair — things break and I can take the cost of that on the chin, or go to insurance if the cost is too great for that, but mainly of the time I would be without camera. From past experience of sending off camera gear I would be sans camera for anything between 2 and 12 weeks.

[edit #2: The cost of repair clocks in at a jaw-dropping 670 quid — insurance it is then …]

Getting home I unpacked and tried the camera again. It worked! For about 3 shots and then failed again. I’m unable to change any of the settings using the buttons on the control panel, and I can’t release the shutter. So, off to the Colchester camera repair centre it is ….

Lets look on the bright side and assume I’ll be camera-less for only 3 weeks. What can I do in the meantime? Well, certainly not “visit Start Point for sunset before the sun starts setting around the headland” which was another of my resolutions. And maybe not “visit the Somerset levels for some starling action” which was another, as they may be gone by the time I get the camera back. So, in no particular order, my next few weeks will be spent:

  • Cleaning and servicing my tripod
  • Preparing a website
  • Preparing images for http://photo2012.net/
  • Preparing and submitting photos from the archive to Alamy
  • Maybe, just maybe, dusting off the old 20D but I’m not sure I want to. It never produced images remotely as good as my 5dMkii
  • Avoiding Flickr and hence seeing what the other local togs are up to
  • Maybe buying some film to throw through my ancient, and loved in its time, EOS3. Some moody B&W perhaps.

I’ll finish this post with a shot from the moor from a few years ago, which is the kind of thing I was hoping to get over the next few weeks — and maybe will shortly again if I’m lucky.

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