Yesterday I decided to make the most of the last of the autumnal crunchiness, get out with the camera and take some much needed new images. The night before I put the batteries on charge for my faithful Fuji x100 and thought no more of it. This camera has been everywhere with me. It’s been to the top of mount toubkal in the Moroccan atlas, it’s been down deep caves and visited most of the hilly parts of Britain either for fun of while I’ve been trying to find errant DofE kids in the fog.
So, up I get in the morning, pop the fully charged battery in, turn it on and………….
NOTHING!!!!! Not a beep, not a light, not a, well nothing. It is dead, it’s no longer a camera, it’s an ex camera, it is deceased, kaput, it is no more! Just a useless lump of metal.
So, what to do? The morning had been planned around taking some photos, so that’s what I was going to do. I looked around for options, and there it was again, sat on the shelf looking like a proud statue or a memorial from the past. My trusty old hasselblad was saying, “use me, not the pesky beepy ones”.
So off we went. Clunk, whirr, bang, clack. 52 years after it was made, it still works as good as new (if with a few scratches, missing chrome and a bit of “patina”). I had to think about everything I did, no screens, no built in meter, no auto this, no auto that.
It was great. I sort of have an idea of what images I got, but won’t know until I get my chemistry set out and hide in a dark corner waiting and wondering what will I have got. It felt good. I had to use my brain and all the knowledge I’ve acquired over 30 plus years of messing with cameras.
The reason for this rambling is a bit off on a tangent. I do a lot of work in the outdoors, running DofE expeditions, mountain biking. It has been noted that over the years that there is an ever increasing massive reliance on potentially fragile technology. People walking use GPS systems, their phones and more recently and potentially worrying satellite trackers to know where the kids are.
This is all very good until something goes wrong. This can be something as minor as a battery failing or even just getting wet. Sure, use them as a backup, but don’t rely on them. These gadgets have the potential to allow leaders to sit in a cafe and watch the kids progress on a laptop screen. This is all very well until something goes wrong.
The tracker is moving, therefore everyone is ok? Well, no, it could be that everyone is in trouble and they’ve sent one lone child to find help. Sat in the cafe, you’ll never know.
The tracker has stopped moving at camp, therefore the group are all at camp? Again, no. Maybe one has made it to camp looking for his or her team, but the rest are missing out on the hill. Again in the warmth all looks good.
The same cam be said for mobile phones. It is common practice for groups to have mobiles for use in emergency. This is good, except that in most mountainous areas and even here in my kitchen, there is little or no signal. If your entire procedure relies on phoning in at camp or when there’s a problem, then things can go awry.
In the outdoor world as per the photographic one, a lot is to be said for revisiting and reinforcing the traditional skills. When technology fails us its essential to have a plan B, an OS map and compass won’t fail you if you know how to use them. They don’t rely on batteries and work as well now as they did 50 years ago or in 50 years time, much the same as my trusty old brass camera (providing they still make film then).
It’s a sad state of the modern world that technology is seen as the saviour of any situation when in reality, that technology is what has got you in that situation in the first place.
Now just don’t remind my that my new car has more in common with a stealth jet than my first 1974 mini and yes, that never broke down either.