Expensive "oops" moments

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Hi everyone –

Ever killed a camera or lens in a really spectacular or interesting way?

I was shooting yesterday evening in the marsh on a barrier island here in SC. I was carrying the camera to a promising piece of driftwood when the lens board and lens did a slow-motion dive off the camera. If you’ve never been to southeast coast, we have this stuff called “pluff mud”. It’s slimy and sticky and smells bad, and it’s no friend of anything delicate. “Pluff” is the sound your Rodenstock makes when it lands. Yuk.

I’m usually pretty careful with lenses in the field. I figure I must have put the camera back in the bag (with lens still attached) and somehow loosened the sliding gadget that secures the lens board from the top. I’ll tug on it twice next time.

I freaked, of course. It was just covered in gray goo. I got it home as quick as possible and gave it a gentle and thorough cleaning. I was encouraged that the shutter still worked….I may have gotten lucky on this one.

While we’re waiting to see if the patient recovers, I want to hear about your expensive “oops” moments; the ones where time passes in slow motion and you exercise your vocabulary of plumbing words.

I know I’m not the only one who ever had one.

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), June 07, 2002


My standard Arca-Swiss bellows is still somewhere in New England. Anything that relates to Arca-Swiss qualifies as expensive.

I have a medium format backpack where the cover opens to display all that is within. I picked it up one time forgetting to zip up the cover.

I had a table recently at a swap and sold quite a bit. Come tax time, I fretted about whether or not I should report these earnings. Then, it occurred to me that I've never made a profit on anything that I've ever bought or sold.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), June 07, 2002.

When a 210 Symmar-S lands in a jungle stream in the Philippines it goes "plop"!

-- Per Volquartz (volquartz@volquartz.com), June 07, 2002.

packing up very quickly in a rough neighborhood, I forgot to put the Rodenstock centerweighted filter for a 90mm f/4.5 lens in the case and had the displeasure owfwatching slide off the hood of my Explorer as I started it up.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), June 08, 2002.

I had the chance to hear the "kriss" of a brand new S-A 90/5,6 landing on a hip of gravel once. Very interesting sound. Luckily the damages were limited to some scratches in the coating of the back element, mostly outside the utile area. Another time, the whole Linhof fell from the tripod over my shoulder to the road. The Horseman viewer who made the office of a bumper had a strong "crrakk". Since that I use extra care when fitting the lensboards to the cameras and I replaced my two Bogen quick fits by the newer secure ones. Still, I am always in some post trauma expectations when I handle my gear!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), June 08, 2002.

Years ago, before I had a permanent set-up for photographing large, two-dimensional works of art, I occasionally had to photograph big architectural drawings spread out on the floor using a Hasselblad bolted to a ceiling joist. One very late night, already too tired, and in the process of putting the camera in that position, I loosened the attachment bolt to fine-tune the camera's alignment and went too far . . . Crash! Watching the camera nose-dive to a concrete floor eight feet below, crash landing on the front of a 120 Makro-Planar lens is one off those slow-motion surreal moments you never forget. As I recall, Hasselblad USA sent the lens off to Sweden, and they completely rebuilt it for something like $800. Ouch.

-- Christopher Campbell (christopher.campbell.mc.79@aya.yale.edu), June 08, 2002.

How about a stupid incident? I'll give you stupid!!!

My other bank breaking hobby is high end airguns. One day I was alone in the house, adjusting the trigger pull on my highest powered airpistol in the bedroom. After each graduated adjustment, I would test it by firing into a box full of newspapers (that's not the stupid part). I eventually adjusted it past the point of safety. I cocked it with the muzzle pointing away from the box (that was the stupid part).The trigger held for 5 seconds (giving me a false sense of security), then released itself just as I was bringing it in line with the box. My Zone VI camera was on the tripod safely? off to the right.The .22 caliber pellet hit the rear standard and buried itself into the wood thankfully causing only cosmetic damage. The only thing that saved it is that the pellet passed through the corner of the target box. The box absorbed most of the energy. If the pellet had been 3/4" to the left, it would have missed, probably going through the drywall and ending up in the laundry room. To the right and it would have traveled through the camera,end to end, at least shattering the ground glass.

Fred Picker still owned Zone VI then. I wondered if I sent the back to them for replacement under their any-reason-at-all warranty, would this incident end up in their catalog showing how serious they were about the warranty. I decided to keep it as a safety reminder to myself.

-- Hal (hal__hardy@juno.com), June 08, 2002.

I dragged my 5x7 Korona, still attached to tripod, 7 miles hanging off the back of my motorcycle. Needless to say, there wasn't much left of the Camera, or of the tripod hear, but the lens was fine, once I dusted off the sawdust!

-- jason (sanford@temple.edu), June 08, 2002.

How about my Zone VI spot meter doing a swan dive out of my pocket and down the back steps? Not very exciting but I have been very fortunate so far in my 20 years.

-- Rob Pietri (light@narrationsinlight.com), June 08, 2002.

Working on my first book (out right now, it is called 1000 New York Buildings), I was shooting very early in the moring and was still a little groggy. I mounted up a 72mm XL, and had just finished framing and focusing and pulled my head out from under the focusing cloth. I left the cloth on the camera, and exposed my polaroid and than my film. After finishing, I pulled my dark cloth off the camera which in turn pulled up the lens lock and I watched horrorfied as the lens fell to the ground (these thing always seem to happen in slow motion!!!). After picking pieces of the iris off the ground (I always wondered what they looked like!!!), I saw that the lensboard and shutter had absorped all of the impact, leaving the lens intact. Later on that nite, I swapped the scales from the busted shutter onto a new copal 0 shutter I just happenend to have lying around and was back in business. The lens is still mounted on the same lensboard, which is a testament to how well made Sinar lensboards are, surviving a 5 foot drop onto stone!!! For those of you who actually want to look the photo taken right before this happened is on page 545 and is #964. Also on this same project, I managed to drive not once but twice with the groundglass back on the roof of my car!!! Both times nothing happened besides me feeling more than a l

-- james driscoll (hooverone@aol.com), June 08, 2002.

This is an almost oops story. Several years ago I was doing a shoot out in the country with a hasselblad system with several lenses that I had borrowed. The lenses were stored in a small leather case and after I had finished the shoot I put the stuff into the car and started the 20 or so mile drive back home. A couple of miles before reaching my house I was at a traffic light and the guy next to me started pointing at my car, I pulled over and to my horror I realized I had left the case on the roof (about $10,000 worth of stuff) Luckily my car had a ski rack which I guess stopped the bag from sliding off.

-- Adam Gibbs (adsgibbs@telus.net), June 09, 2002.

While walking on Ios, a Greek island, I put down my tripod so I could use my viewing card to eyeball a large church. I decided not to take the picture and strolled off leaving the tripod. I discovered this error 1/2 hour later and retraced my steps, even going back to the hotel room. I walked back up the road and my wife suggested I stop at a market near where I thought I left it and ask if they had seen it. I entered the store and there in the corner was the beautiful sight-my tripod. The owner saw it on the road and brought it in for protection! I couldn't imagine focussing etc w/o it.

-- George Nedleman (gnln@thegrid.net), June 09, 2002.

This didn't happen to me but to an assistant for another photographer I almost went to work for. The photographer was known for demanding complete attention. They were shooting on top of a two story building and the assistant was posing as a construction worker at some distance from the photographer. The photographer was having the assistant look one way and evidently told the assistant to take a step to the left -- which took him off the edge of the roof. Another friend told me about the time he was using a can of compression air to clean the elements of a 600mm f/4 when those big lens were really , really rare. He forgot that when you tilt the can over to the horizontal you get a big flood of freon. Crack! It took six months for the rear element to be replaced

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), June 09, 2002.

Kevin, one of the really stupid quirks of camera design is putting the sliding lock for the lensboard on top of the board. If it were on the bottom of the board, the lens wouldn't fall off if it were unlocked as long as the camera remains upright. I modified one old wooden camera this way and it worked great. Just last fall I caught my MPP on my foot when the tripod head came off the center post. The clamp screw worked loose and when I picked up the tripod with mounted camera the whole assembly came off. I managed to get a foot under it before it hit the ground. Foot turned a beautiful shade of dark blue. Should have let the camera hit the ground. The tripod now has a cross bolt through the top of the center post. I once dropped a Nikon F with an off-brand 300mm lens when the strap let go. The camera survived, the lens went to that great optics plant in the sky. Think of a stupid trick you can do with photo equipment and I have tried it at least once.


-- Doug Paramore (Dougmary@alaweb.com), June 09, 2002.

Hello Group!

At least this didn't happen to me. But I've come close.

During Gemini XI astronauts lost a $2000 Hasselblad camera while taking pictures. The astronaut was supposed to take the picture with a NASA camera and while doing so he let go of his own personal camera. The camera just floated away. The astronaut thought about untying his anchor and retrieving the camera, but his wise crew mates convinced him that was not a good idea. (Personally, I might have gone after it).

This would be the first Swiss satellite.

It's still orbiting.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), June 10, 2002.


Should have said Sweden.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), June 10, 2002.

On a warm summers night me and a friend was in a studio on the fifth floor. Because of the heat we had a window open and we sat on the window sill to at least get some fresh air.
There was a distant sound of something crashing from outside, but we paid no attention to it. After a while I was looking for my meter and it was nowhere to be found. It turned out that the distant crashing sound was that of a Gossen UltraPro making its final move.

-- Björn Nilsson (bjorn@binoni.nu), June 13, 2002.

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