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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Please don't break on me now camera!

The last time I visited Wat Pho, home of the giant golden reclining Buddha, was fifteen years ago. I was on a 12 month journey around South East Asia, India and Nepal. I was about half way through after having initially spent a couple of months in Thailand and then three months in India with my then-girlfriend, now wife.

As I headed into the giant hall to see the Buddha I noticed my camera acting funny. I always turn the beeping sound for my autofocus off, but still check the little light on my viewfinder to make sure it comes on to tell me autofocus has been achieved. That's especially important in dark places.

Anyway that little light suddenly started flashing every time I half pushed the shutter button down. For some reason it wasn't auto-focussing. I took the lens off and re-attached it. No good. Changed lenses. No good. Took the battery out and put it back in. No good. My autofocus was stuffed and I would have to focus manually.

But was what I was seeing through the viewfinder accurate? In other words if I focussed manually would the focus be OK? This was the days of film so I had literally no idea. And I was shooting slide film so there was no real way of checking. Plus we were headed to the Philippines for a month of diving the next day so no time to get it looked at in Bangkok.

So, with 6 months, the Philippines and Nepal still to go I was more than a little worried. I eventually bought a cheap roll of print film in the Philippines and did a bunch of test shots. Everything seemed to be OK so I just kept on using it. My venerable 21st birthday present lasted until the end of that trip with no more problems but I sure gained an appreciation for the guys who worked before the invention of auto-focus!

So as I headed back into Wat Pho fifteen years down the track I was sending a few wishful thoughts out to the big golden Buddha not to let it happen again. He had the same serene smile on his face as last time so I was hopeful. By the time I walked all the way down to his feet and photographed back along the length of the statue, then walked around the other side and out the door I was officially safe. No second time jinx for me!

Of course if my camera had broken it would have given me an excuse to go and buy a shiny new camera. :)

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