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Bless Me Father Bob…..

Jan 4

In Stories at 7:53am

You know, it’s a new year, and it’s time to download the card, freshen up the pixels, clean the lens elements and confess all those photographic sins, which for me, really, are too numerous to count or catalog. As 2009 faded in the rear view mirror, I figured it was time to see Father Bob.

Here’s what I propose. Write in about your most egregious photographic sin of the last year, decade, whatever. We’ll cruise the comments and pick out the 5 best whoppers and put them up on the blog with, uh, some commentary within a couple of weeks. The 5 most colorful or unusual screw ups, missed exposures, bad calls, blown jobs, or lollapalooza mistakes….be they as simple as leaving the lens cap on, or as serious as shooting Canon:-)…we’ll send an autographed copy of Hot Shoe Diaries. Determining the 5 “winners” is solely at the discretion of the management.

Now, these are sins committed with a camera in your hands, or at least nearby. If you had one of those production jobs in Vegas, and the model didn’t show up, and the permits weren’t valid, and the rental car battery went dead, and the client was a screamer, and you were so distracted you shot the whole day for this big movie poster on jpeg basic….and that night you decided to ease your suffering by shooting and starring in your own personal version of Hangover, well, the details of those evening endeavors, as they say, should remain in Vegas.

(Shot entirely on Nikon’s D3s by Drew Gurian and Will Foster).

More tk…

246 Responses to “Bless Me Father Bob…..”

sue t. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:09 pm

It appears my biggest photographic sin is making the decision to try and make some $$ from my hobby.

Does that make me a photographer?
Or do I actually need to sell more than I spend before being considered a photographer?
Or is it the other way around … you’re truly a photographer when you spend more than you make and you’re still taking photos?

Chris Davis Cina says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

So nice to see I’m not alone as a sinner. Let’s see what was worse…Going to shoot a conference on Farmland Preservation and dropping the camera on the way in (thank God for the UV protection lens…which shattered and I couldn’t screw off but did preserve the Nikkor lens) and left me with no decent photos.
OR assisting at a wedding where my flash (SU800) just decided not to work. I had no back-up plan and got into such a state I made nothing but bad decisions. That pro will never call on me again.
OR showing up at DLWS with no power cord to my Mac, rendering me useless once again to download my pictures and follow all of the instruction.

This post is at least allowing me to realize that photographers are human and I really don’t need to give up just because I’ve sinned.

Bruce Elliott says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’ve made the same mistake a few times over a few years… but this last time the message has sunk in and I ALWAYS check my kit both before I leave home and again just before I start shooting now!

One of my kids, bless them, decided to pick up my cam early one morning and mess about with it. I didn’t realise until I was halfway through an outside portrait session shooting at max iso and fluorescant wb… fortunately managed to get the shots I needed in the second half of the shoot, but that feeling in your stomach when you realise you’ve stuffed up that badly is something I don’t want again in a hurry.

Not only do I check my kit carefully now, I also make sure I don’t leave it anywhere the kids can get at it!

Paul Glover says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

My second biggest photographic sin in 2009 was on a short vacation, shooting for most of a day in aperture priority with *spot* metering mode set. And not chimping at all because I was trying to both save battery and be a little too smart for my own good, so I didn’t catch on to the error of my ways for a while.

Got quite a surprise when I did review a shot and couldn’t figure out why it was about 4 stops overexposed. Somehow divinity intervened and most of the previous shots turned out well-enough exposed or were at least salvageable.

My biggest sin though is not shooting enough to have committed any other major transgressions!

Chris says:

on January 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm

This year I started really taking an interest in photography and I have done a lot of sins: I don’t fully know how to use my camera to it’s full ability…but I not only have a Canon 40D (which I guess is a sin to some Nikon users out there!) but I now have a Canon Elan IIe film camera…and I’m still learning to take shots, and film is a lot less forgiving then digital…can’t just delete it! I still don’t fully understand how shutter speed works with lighting, works with focus, and ISO…though I know they are all connected. I want to really start to understand these things, but I don’t ever want to forget how to have fun taking photos! I understand ISO and Aperture better then shutter speed…at least I usually remember to look at them, I frequently forget to look at shutter speed, which has really gotten me with film.

Rachel Shomsky says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

While assisting a friend and fellow photographer at a wedding, we were in the middle of a blizzard, worst storm of the winter and we were sliding in to the reception…

On the way there we had to stop to get batteries, it literally took 2 minutes on our route…

Because of the storm we were late by probably a good 10-15 minutes to keep from dying on the road. We missed the announcement of the couple. It was completely the storm’s fault. They came by to ask if we were ok. Could I just let it alone and let them know that the storm delayed us? no I confessed that we had to stop to get batteries… really?

It wasn’t even my gig. I felt like such a jerk…

Marc Lebryk says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

My greatest Photograhpic sin from 2009 was on a shoot that I had to do in Flint Michigan. I was scheduled to shoot video, while breaking in a newer shooter at a sporting event. Brilliantly I plugged in the batteries to the 5D Mark II i was supposed to shoot video with in my living room, as opposed to with all the other batteries in the office. Even set the camera down next to them so that I wouldn’t forget them. Sure enough 2 hours into the 5 hour drive, I realize: I left the camera at home. Not just the batteries, the whole damn camera. Scratch the video shoot for that event.

Then to make things better, I had a 1D Mark II that I was loaning the new shooter along with his other body, which I had to ask for back so I could at least shoot stills at the event. Turns out the 1D body had been dropped at a previous event by another shooter and I hadn’t been told. Only reason I knew was because the body wasn’t functioning properly so I had about 400 shots of the floor more than normal while walking around that day. I ended up shooting almost 3x as many shots that day than normal becuase of the broken element in the camera firing 2 and 3 shots simultaneously.

In the end it all worked out becuase the venue ended up being about 3 stops darker than what me and the newer shooter were used to, so I was able to show him how to use Speedlights to effectively light a sports environment. In terms of the overall forgetting an entire camera for a shoot?

I’m a Damn Idiot.

Malinda Hartong says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm

OMG, that’s a scary scary video still. Glad Bob’s doing the audio slideshows and multimedia now. We had a nice chat about that a while back at one of his travel seminar gigs. Tell him the Cincy news photogs say HI!

Matt Hunt says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Er…did a shoot and somepoint had knocked the WB button AND then must have been fiddling dials…so everything looked OK on the back of the camera and when I looked at the pictures at home…everything was VERY warm. Many hours later in CNX I finished processing the files. Live and learn not to fiddle

Jonathan T. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I was doing a group shot of the groomsmen at a wedding this summer. Not knowing everyone’s name, the easiest way to make sure the camera sees everyone’s face is to say, “If you can’t see the camera with both eyes, then it can’t see you.” It’s a habit. I say it all the time for group shots. Only this time, it momentarily slipped my mind that the groom (of all people) was a policeman recently injured in the line of duty and had lost an eye.

“Are you trying to get yourself arrested?,” on of the groomsmen (also an officer) asked.

Chuck Kimmerle says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:51 pm

After rushing to an out of town assignment for a magazine shoot, I set up the lights, composed the scene and the subject, and spent the next half hour working with the setting sun. All the while I was chimping to be sure the histogram looked good and that I was getting the shot. After the shoot I packed up, thanked the subject and headed home feeling quite good about the shoot….

….until I got home (a three hour drive). When I attempted to download the photos, I discovered that neither of the two card slots on my D3 contained a card. I was horrified and sickened as there was little chance for a reshoot. I had pulled the digital equivalent of forgetting to load the film.

What I had failed to learn about the D3 (really, who reads manuals?) was that the factory default settings allowed the camera to expose frames without cards inserted, and allowed at least the most recent couple of those images to be chimpable, though not saved. It was some sort of demo mode. Who knew?

As the subject was leaving town a reshoot was not possible. Explaining what happened to the editor was, I thought, pain enough for penance, but in the end I lost all future contract possibilities. Can’t say I blame them.

Jon-Mark says:

on January 4, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Hadda couple fly me to England for my first ever far far away destination Wedding to shoot, only problem was when I got there, Customs dude wanted a work visa.
“Work visa? It’s a Canadian couple with a Canadian photographer visiting England for a few days and I need a work visa?”
“You’re takin’ work away from an English Photographer Pal”
“Oh…. hadn’t thought of it like that…”

Enter 2 days of hell, bag searches, eye scans, bad photos, finger scans, old school fingerprinting, and staying overnight in a holding place called Tinsley House with a buncha guys from Ghana who only seemed to know one english word: “Ipod!” as in, my ipod touch that I foolishly let see daylight while there. I shared a bunkroom with 5 other guys, sleeping on a cot that was about 3/4 as big as I am. I slept for 5 hours with the ipod clutched tight in my pansy ass whiteboy photographer hands.

Needless to say it wasn’t fun, flew 2 10 hour flights in a 40 hour period, one of ‘em a redeye, and was sick to begin with, you don’t even wanna see what I looked like by the end of it. Worst part though, the couple had no photographer for their Wedding. I felt like a total ( pardon my french ) douchebag.

Lesson learned: Next time I get flown somewhere for photography work and they ask why I’m there? Lie.

Dave C. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Well, my biggest sin of 2009 was actually a team sin by myself and a co-worker. My day job is performing research for power utilities. In this particular case were were creating large power arcs and taking stills (2 dSLR’s) and high-speed video (three Casio EX-F1 cameras). The power arcs result in big fireballs many feet in diameter and spew out lots of molten metal… and we got one of the Casios a little too close. We managed to bake it, cover it in soot, and splatter it with molten copper and aluminum. Surprisingly it still worked after that… until we accidentally left it out overnight (on a superclamp fixed to a utility pole) and the back control dials died!! Maybe baking it again will revive it :)

Denise Duhamel says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Let’s see … the biggest photographic blunder lately. Hmmm. Well, back in November I shot a wedding. I’ve done several weddings over the years, so I wasn’t too worried. Bride asked me to leave my car at the reception and arranged for transportation to pick me up there and take me to her mom’s home, where the bridal party was getting ready. She wanted me to ride with everyone in the hummer stretch limo to/from the church. Mistake number one was leaving the bag with the extra flash and batteries in my car because I didn’t think I’d need them until the reception. I was so wrong!!!
Thank goodness for the high ISO capabilities of my D300s. Switching back and forth between the two cameras allowed enough time for the flash to recyle in between shots.

Next blunder from later that evening at the reception … I had max’d out an 8 gb card on one camera and my spare cards were at the opposite end of the room safely tucked in my bag. Rather than miss the photo opportunity, I simply swapped cards from one camera to the other. BIG mistake. Got home later that night and started downloading the images. First card downloaded just fine. Second one though, came up with an error message that said files were corrupt! This was the card I had swapped between cameras (D300s and D200)and I think is what caused the corruption to the files. OMG – this was the card with THE wedding shots – you know – the whole church wedding ceremony and all the formals! I didn’t panic right away – after all if the FBI can recover files from just about anything, I ought to be able to find someone to help me recover the wedding images! Fortunately with the help of a recovery disk and lots and lots of patience, I was able to finally recover ALL of the images one by one. In retrospect, I probably should never have shared cf cards between two different camera bodies. I should have taken the extra minute to swap lenses on the cameras instead of swapping memory cards. Or, here’s a novel idea – I should have had the extra cards on me – not tucked away in the camera bag across the room! Did I mention the wedding was for a co-worker? For while I seriously thought I was going to have to quit my day job and relocate out of state! :-) Fortunately all ended well and the bride and groom are extremely pleased with the photos. It was a valuable lesson learned.

Marc says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm

I’ve got one as many of us do hehe..

I’ve shot a full day for a large family and made hundreds of photos, and it was a great day for me, everything was going perfectly, the posing, lighting, the connection.

Once I got home, I invited the clients ( my former neighbors ) inside the house and why not look at a couple of the photos. I knew them well enough to explain that the unedited versions may look somewhat “less vibrant” in comparison with the edited versions.

I imported the photos automatically on my PC, in which I expected would go on to the external harddrive, later on I noticed them not sitting on that drive, but on my C:/ drive, ( still don’t know how lol ). They were still right here, sitting with me.. Here comes the dumba$$ part.

Stupidly I didn’t copy paste the photos onto the other harddrive ( I immediately had to reuse the card for photos that would be taken after the viewing so I formatted it.. OUCH! ) but I deleted them, ( yes… I hit ctrl+delete , I could cry at that moment of uber stupidity ).

SO! There I was, clients, me and my computer and no photos, not on the HDD and not on the memory card…. Feeling like a pathetic piece of dung, I started stressing out, started downloading recovery tools, and told them everything was fine and that I had to reimport the files…

The next day, after much stress, and little sleep, I saved alot of photos, but not all of them, luckily for me I saved enough of ‘em to make it look like a CD of preselected photos…

I pray to never, ever be a nut again, and never ever, ever, forget backing up.

Good day guys!

Omi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Bob’s Irish accent it brilliant!! My gran would be getting her lip stick ready.

I haven’t been in the game long enough to do many paid jobs….actually only two weddings….but on my first wedding lugging around a flashy D700 and hoping it would compensate for my panic and lack of skill, I was placed in charge of the church shots. A dark English countryside church with no flash allowed is like a nightclub security guard demanding you produce a 1.4 prime or you get a beating round the back.

I set up at the back with strict instruction to use a monopod I’ve never seen in my life let alone set-up. The head just won’t go on in time….screw that so I do it with a twisted arm grip I learned from one Professor McNally. Grip is fine, legs are shaking, bride and dad walk into the church and I go for it…in Aperture mode. I have auto-iso set and no shutter speed lower than a 60th. With no time to chimp something is wrong, some shots are firing at said speed and others are locking the mirror like a star gazer. David Bowe I did not want to become.

The ceremony ends and the party is leaving the church for some air and chit chat outdoors. Its a summer’s day and I fire one after trying to capture the fast moving interactions. Things settle and now I can scan through. The range of exposures amongst the shots was like a stop motion video of day and night on fast forward. I think you know by now that I had fumbled my way into the bracket trap….grabbed by the balls and squeezing so tight, my face was surely showing evidence of this cock-up. I prayed for some genius computer-wiz to have devised the most amazing Photoshop plug-in by the time I reached home.

I’m happy to say that not all photos were killed in the making of this day, the remainder just suffered horrible dis-figurations.

joi says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Longest, silliest, duh-est mistake ever:
Spending two years editing with the vivid setting clicked on in my desktop color settings..

I couldn’t understand why my camera was shooting so red.
I blamed the camera, blamed myself for being lazy and not custom balancing..

I ended up blaming my hubbie for changing the settings and not telling me, when I should have blamed myself for not color calibrating often enough..doh

Jase says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:35 pm

pretty simple one but hiking up to a look out for sunset photos with a group of other photogs.
Lugging my tripod all the way and realising at the very top of this 20m lookout – whilst out of breath – that the bl**dy quick release plate is NOT on the bottom of the camera or on the tripod but rather back at home on my desk where i put explicitly so i didn’t forget it…

luckily not a paid gig :)

Nicholas Hebert says:

on January 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Hmm photographic sins, lets see… Forgetting to turn off bracketing and wonder why my exposures aren’t coming out right on a paid senior portrait shoot, leaving the lens cap on,accidentally formatting my camera card with a shoot i hadn’t yet backed up to the computer, aka lost all files and had to re shoot, not more batteries with me for my sb600 flash which died during shoot, same for camera batteries.

wow looking back I sure have made my fair share of blunders,but hey that’s how you learn right?

Thomas Sass Pedersen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm

The absolute biggest sin I’ve done the past year is, well, big. I have often chosen to leave home without my camera, left it standing with a large telelens on the floor without switching to something more useful and bring it along. And trust me, this has meant that I’ve lost some great ones the past year.
Among the smaller sins is the one where I forget to set the aperture correctly from the last exposure, not setting the ISO down from last photoshoot and stuff like that. But the mayor must be the leaving the camera at home.

Peter says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:45 pm

My biggest mistake was made on a beautiful sunny day in Seattle. I had a very large high school football team to photograph. Brought in custom risers for the team to stand on,3 Speedotron packs for lighting. Camera gear was to die for. A Hasselblad 503CW with the 100mm and plenty of extra film backs, just in case. So we have a small team helping with this photo shoot. They setup the risers, I work on the lighting and cameras. I get all the camera gear ready, also using a D1 for backup. I load one film back, place it in my pocket. Then the team comes out, we find a few problems like I need to move everything back 10ft to fit them in, or move those heavy risers back 10ft. So I move my lights and ladder back between the chain link fence and the stands. Get the team set just so, go back climb the ladder and start grabing shots with the Hassy and the D1. Climb down and wonder what I have in my pocket! Why it’s the one film back I did load, so what did I load in my film back that’s on the camera? Nothing. Now believe or not the coach was ok with this mistake. Why? To quote him I did not even try and make an excuse for what I did. Did not blame someone else or wait and say the lab runied the film. Just took it like a man.He said he was the same quality he expects from his players. It was the best mistake I ever made.

PS the shots from the D1 in jpeg just did not have the quality to make good prints compared with the Hasselblad. This was a few years ago before Lighroom, Aperture, etc.

Mike Calaguas says:

on January 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Killed my SB800 while doing a group family shot on the beach with the sunset ad backdrop. Flash was on a lightstand with shoot-through umbrella. Wind picked up and dunked the flash right into a pool of saltwater…

Caroline Hilty says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm

During the getting ready portion of the day.. the bride was about to slip into her dress and I looked around the room and noticed that the Mother of the bride only had her black slip on..Well so I thought. I made the announcement for everyone to get fully dressed because the bride would be putting her dress on and they would be in the background. I was directing my comment towards the Mom who which of course was already dressed. oops. I had to cover and say…Oh, I thought you would want all of your Jewls on before we started.

James Whitaker says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

#1 Lesson learned in 2009… Insure your camera gear.

I was staying in a cottage on Sand Lake (Ontario) for the weekend this past September with my family. I decided to take a little canoe trip around the lake with my wife. I took my D300 with attached 18-70mm DX and MD-10D grip and my 70-200mm f2.8 VR in hand. Just to be safe I put the camera in a small cooler (supposedly to keep it dry) and the 20-200mm in a drink cooler (round and about long enough for the lens).

After a 45 minute trip around the lake we started back across the lake. We were headed right into the wind, which had kicked up a 1-foot chop on the lake. It was tough to keep the canoe pointed directly into the wind and if we drifted off course the waves made the canoe very tippy. The inevitable happened and we went into the water a little over a half mile from shore. It was impossible to get the canoe righted and get back in (I tried but the canoe sank under me).

We floundered around, kicking towards shore with the canoe. The coolers kept the camera and lens from going stright to the bottom, but they were not as water proof as I had hoped.

After about 30 minutes of swiming for shore (and not getting very far) a kayaker spotted us from shore and paddled out. She towed the canoe to shore (making it easier for us to swim). Another 30 minutes of swimming got us within a few hundred feet of shore. A jet-skier showed up and he pulled us the last few hundred feet.

On-shore I drained the water from the (not-so-water-proof) coolers and tried to dry out the camera equipment. We dried ourselves out as well and got back into the canoe (because our cottage was still on the opposite side of the lake).

I dried it everything out as best as I could. Nothing had been submerged… Just splashed and damp. The D300 didn’t survive. The battery grip was fine and the 18-70mm DX seems no worse for wear (although it needed a good cleaning). The 70-200mm f2.8 VR developed condensation on the back side of the front element that didn’t go away. I sent it to Nikon Canada and, after $500 in repairs, is back in service.

I called my insurance broker but, without a separate rider for the camera equipment, I was out of luck.

I bought a D700 and 24-70 f2.8 to replace the D300. Along with a little more than $1000 in other gear, it’s all now fully insured for about $100 a year.

Don’t I feel dumb.

James Whitaker

Lou Wheeler says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm

My worst photo sin so far? Other than not taking enough photos, of course? Heh… Well… this happened a few weeks ago…

I’m getting into small flash photography like crazy. Got a cheap Phoenix non-ttl flash, an oldschool Minolta Auto 118X non-ttl, and some cheapo Cactus v4 triggers. Well, I decided I needed more firepower than either of these flashes provide. With that in mind, I went to the local family-owned photo shop, and went for an old standby–the Vivitar 285.

Man, this thing is a beast! That’s my thought. Lots of light, decent recycle times, I can’t wait to bust this puppy out!

So I’m at a friend’s house with all my gear. Brand new (to me) flash, just got a light stand and shoot-through brolly, and we thought “Hey! Let’s do a photoshoot here in front of the house in downtown Sacramento!” Oh. I have to mention that we’re all pretty drunk at this point. Okay, so I bust out the gear, take some flash readings with my light meter, get my buddy to stand in as a test subject until everyone was ready. Got a few shots, and it starts raining lightly. Whoops.

So we decide to grab the stand/flash/brolly, and a slave flash for some extra fill/accent, and go behind the house to a covered parking structure, where I wanted to shoot in the first place. Same buddy as the test subject, fire off some meter readings, set up a backlight gelled full-cut CTB to color the blah wall, and step back a ways with my Canon 70-210 equipped. I’m zoomed in a bit, and I hear people start yelling before I squeeze the shutter.

Then it happens.

I see the light stand and brolly fall RIGHT in front of my buddy. Who just stands there. Not moving. And it crashes to the ground. I freak out, run up to the mess on the ground, worried that maybe I broke my triggers. Trigger is in two pieces. I see it’s just the battery cap that came off. Then I see the flash in the brolly.

Sans foot. The foot is snapped off, stuck in my trigger. My brand new (again, to me) flash that I really never even used aside from seeing how bright it was firing. I just spent $30 on powerful rechargeable batteries that week too. And now it’s gone. Three test frames, and it’s gone.

I was pissed (and drunk), so I picked it up, freaked out, and slammed it back down to the concrete floor. Probably a bad idea.

I later figured out (after the rage and booze started wearing off) that it still fired, and the sync port is still there. It still fired off the sync port, so I ordered a vivitar-proprietary cable that would plug into the minijack on my trigger. It showed up, along with the velcro wraps to strap it onto the umbrella shaft/mount (hehe), and fired it up… It still works, however it no longer fires a full charge… I have a feeling this was due to my rage-induced spiking it into the cement.

I’m an idiot for a few different things. Not having a sandbag on the stand (which I ordered with that cable. heh.), or just having someone hold it in case of wind. And slamming it back into the ground after I thought it was dead. I also kicked my tripod over, but luckily it didn’t break, and nothing was on it. Oh, and this is all after my buddy (same dude) knocked over my slave flash and cracked the casing. It still works fine. I would’ve it been the other way around though. New $100 flash wasted, basically.

And there you go. A really long story about me being a drunken idiot and losing my baby (the Vivitar). :/

Joshua Gilliland says:

on January 4, 2010 at 6:47 pm

worst photo sin of 2009…
Leaving all sources of power at home after traveling all day to go to a shoot i had promised to a friend. that only happens once, ill tell you that.

awesome video.

David Green says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:27 pm

My biggest recent photographic sin was nearly frying myself for a shot.

I had booked a shoot with a model on the beach near Los Angeles, and decided this would be a good time to try my Alien Bees ringflash with the “Ghostbusters” setup invented by JBaz (http://photography-on-the.net/forum/showthread.php?t=381362). This involves dismantling a Paul C. Buff Vagabond remote power unit and reassembling it into a hydration backpack, so you are essentially carrying a 120V power supply on your back. You plug in your ABR-800 and – though you look like a real geek – you are now a self-contained mobile studio flash shooter.

So, I’m working with the model on the beach and she is frolicking (as models are supposed to) and she starts moving further and further into the water. Splashing, kicking, leaping… you know: frolicking.

I’m very cautiously following her, making sure to stay well beyond where the waves would lap at my feet (I think). Suddenly, BAM!, a rogue wave crashes into my knees, and (more out of stunned panic than the force of the water), I find myself lying on my back. In salt water. With a 120V AC power pack strapped to my back.

I don’t think a man my age has ever moved so quickly to roll over, remove a backpack, unplug a power cord, and fling the pack to dry land…. all while holding the camera (and attached ringflash) in the air and out of the water.

Though I’d never describe myself as having “catlike reflexes,” I surprised myself that day, keeping the camera, flash, backpack, and – most importantly – my body out of harm’s way. I moved so quickly, it was like I’d rehearsed it.

The model thought I looked pretty funny, though, giggling as she asked, “Are you OK?” I don’t she would have been laughing if I’d been electrocuted. Ya never know though, they are peculiar creatures sometimes.

I’ve learned that from now on, I will have an assistant when shooting in any situation that could be remotely considered dangerous, and also that salt water and voltage inverters need to be kept as far apart as humanly possible.

Randy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Sin of the year. I kept thinking that something was wrong with my brand new 2.8 lens while doing basketball shots. They were too dark and this lens was supposed to be the cats meow! At half time I realized I had my f/4 lens on which looks just like the new 2.8. I did manage to switch at half time but those missed shots were the best of the game.

Ted Dayton says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:41 pm

…not a sin, exactly, but a serious fuck-up. I was shooting in the 6th floor furniture department in a department store in Dallas
in the late 70′s. This is on the weekend. Staff job. I had a huge A-frame ladder that I was pushing around for removing
light bulbs from the ceiling. Since I was shooting strobes, I have no idea why. Stupid, I guess. So I move the ladder, climb up, unscrew the bulb, climb down, move the ladder, climb up, etc. The ladder nearly reached the ceiling in some spots, probably 16 feet. Turns out it was tall enough
to reach one of the sprinklers. Broke it clean off. Water coming from the ceiling like a fire hose, the first 10 seconds or so
with the nastiest black crud you ever saw, hitting me square on the head and my shoulders. I looked like I had just struck oil. You never saw a 24-yr-old, 160 pound punk move sofas so fast. In a matter of a minute, the water is saturating the carpeting for a 30 foot radius. It’s running down the stairs, customers are running, salespeople are asking, ‘Duh, what happened?’ The fire department guys show up. Ho-hum. One of ‘em finds a wooden-handled broom and breaks it over his knee, climbs my ladder, and pounds the splintered end of the broom handle into the gushing sprinkler with a small sledge hammer. Turns out this building was decades old and the sprinklers had never been used. Ever. Decades of black crud in the pipes. Just sitting in there, waiting for me. For decades.

Monday morning when I went to work was especially enjoyable…

Can I get something for this?

Ted in L.A.

Paulo Rodrigues says:

on January 4, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I took a load of photos with my Hasselblad but later realised I didn’t have film in either of the backs. Fortunately I took some polaroids as well so I had something to show for it.

Still its an improvement on loading the film back-to-front

Pieter Sienatra says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:05 pm

My deadliest sin would be I tricked my wife to let me buy expensive photo gears. Whatever Joe McNally use, I always want it. Starting to buy a DSLR, instead of buying Nikon D80, I choose the more expensive D300, I said to her “this will help me get better pictures, so I can start my wedding photography business”. Then comes to lens, I choose Nikon 17-55mm/2.8, and 1 SB-800 with the promise “this is it, no more gear”. Then I saw Joe use 20 SB-800′s, and now I add another SB800 ( with the same magic words above). Then Joe use 70-200/2.8 VR, I said the magic words again, bammm! that beast in my bag now. Here comes the full frame D700, my magic words works again, trade the D300 for D700, oh! Also I need the 24-70/2.8 then,because the 17-55mm/2.8 only good on DX body, talk about double hits with 1 bullet.
Then Joe use SB-900, got to have it also, I did successfully, again with that magic words. Joe use Lexar cards, so do I. If Joe drink coke with a little drop of salt and pepper I might follow also. Poor my wife, I never buy her any expensive stuffs and she let me buy those thosand bucks items, I only remember me and my photography. Since now I have all my finest gears, it’s time to proof her with good pictures, and the business is start right now, bless you my beloved one.

Bill says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Bravo !

Geeze ! I would never had guessed I’d enjoy a short video blog as much as a full length James Cameron film.

You’re getting mighty good there Joe.

Also, my hat’s off to Bob !


Deb says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:24 pm

My worst sin happened at the beginning of the last decade after subcontracting to photograph a wedding at the Basilica in Denver for a mere $500 (a sin in itself even in the film days). The bride and groom planned to leave the ceremony in a limo (no bridal party) and en route to the reception would stop at an historic park for “bride/groom shots with the limo.” I followed the limo from the downtown church looping through the city for about 5 blocks before we got to a stop light on a back street. I glanced down to the right at my camera in the front seat for some reason. Out of the corner of my eye, I “saw” the limo start to move forward, so I let my foot off the brake before I glanced back up. BUMP! The limo HAD moved forward but stopped again before proceeding through the intersection. The engine in my van had moved my vehicle forward without my foot on the accelerator and bumped the back of the limo. The limo driver called the owner to meet us at the park. He met us and HE WAS HOT!

You see, he had just had the 1936(?) Rolls Royce antique limo restored just 2 weeks prior to the BUMP. My forward movement had barely pushed the bumper into the trunk area, but it “crushed” the just restored wood floor board underneath the limo.

My insurance paid $36,000 to have the limo restored after my accident. The limo owner sent me a letter apologizing for his behavior after he had received extremely great treatment from my insurance company.

This “sins” blog reminded me that I need to find the letter and frame it for posterity.

Rudy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I know of only one great sin my wife keeps reminding me of. MY PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR IS WORTH MORE THAN THE CAR I DRIVE. (is this a good sin??????)

Charles Carstensen says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

There I was on the South Rim of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park shooting with a 35 mm lens on the digital 35. I made a nice picture of a park ranger displaying his rock climbing gear. Done. Ready to leave and the ranger said, hey, they are climbing on the North Rim directly across this narrow canyon which is 2000 feet deep.

We looked and sure enough, two climbers were making their way up the vertical rock wall. He said: could you take a picture of them. Well, of course. However, the 35mm would not cut it. Soooo, I walked to the car, got out the longest beast I had. The Hasselblad 503CW film camera with a 150 mm was OK since I could crop as necessary. Cool, tripod, light meter and everything including the little film counter window registering 10 shots remaining. Fired off the 10 exposures, said “I’ll send you some prints.”

Upon returning home to unload the exposed film there was none. The really bad part was when I told Ranger Bob the pics did not come out. No, I could not bear to tell him why.

Now I feel better to go forward in 2010!

James Saxon says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I am writing this because my wife, Carol, is too embarassed. While on a business trip my wife borrowed my D100 camera to use while see is site seeing. When she returns to the hotel she tells me she has some good news and some bad news. My first thought was did you wreck the rental car? No, I was using the camera and a bee landed on my wrist and stung me so I threw the camera out of my hand. The good news is only the battery door is broken and the camera still works. I asked why she threw the camera when she had already been stung. Reflex motion. $834.00 worth of “impact” damage to realign the sensors and clean the camera. Not to mention $75.00 to repair the zoom lens. This is all hers and not mine. The camera has since been retired at an early age.

Blueweedphoto says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Biggest blunder of 2009 was mixing up my cards. I had 2 events that day, a wedding in the morning and a christening in the afternoon. After shooting the wedding(that ended at around lunch time) I removed my cf and placed it in my bag’s pocket and got the other card in the same pocket. I was talking to a friend at the time and did not noticed I got the same cf from the wedding. I went ahead and formatted it as a pet peeve. Went on to shoot the christening and when I got home I realized the disaster. I later called the bride and groom and said that my gear was stolen after the wedding. Hope Father Bob will forgive me. If he doesn’t, I hope he sends a D3s to hell with me. : )

Steve says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

I’m not sure I can top any of these stories, they make me cringe in sympathy (or is it empathy?).

My wife and I were in Australia for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation and in one day both my primary camera (a Canon – yes I know) and my backup camera (also a Canon – what did I expect?) died during our drive along the famous Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I was reduced to using my wife’s point and shoot (you guessed it) Canon until we could reach a ‘city’ (I think perhaps 5,000 people lived there) where there was one camera store. Needless to say, I did not buy a Canon, but the only Nikons they offered were point and shoots. So I bought the best one they had and salvaged photographically our vacation.

Christopher T. Murphy says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:25 pm

While serving our great nation in the United States Air Force as a Still Photographic Specialist at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, I was processing 4×5 sheets of film that I had shot of pre-surgery breast photos. When my civilian supervisor saw the grossly underexposed film, he quizzed me about the loading of the film holders.

I explained to him I was taught in Tech School how to load the film with the cut notches on a particular side in the dark. He agreed with me and we scheduled a reshoot. I processed the reshoot film and the same ridiculously underexposed film resulted.

Bless me Joe, for I have sinned. I am LEFT HANDED (and therefore more Creative) and had loaded the film correctly for me, which is backwards for the rest of the world. I had exposed the film backwards in the old Calumet 4×5 and then processed the film normally!

Remember, once the patient has had surgery there is absolutely no chance for a retake! By the way, all of my autopsy stuff turned out fine. Dead clients don’t complain much, and the USAF Office of Special Investigations just wants the film to come out for evidence:)

Steve Holm says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I was on assignment to shoot production shots of the assembly line at a large tractor manufacturer (think green). In my hurry out the door the morning of the shoot I forgot to grab my light meter which was not in the camera kit. The medium format camera I was shooting with had no working light meter so I quick called my wife, explained what to look for and waited for her to drop it by the plant while I pretended there was nothing wrong. Fortunately things got started slowly and she dropped it off at the front gate just in time. I received the package just as the shoot was about to start only to discover that the light meter she had brought me was in fact a small camcorder that came in a black case similar to my light meter. Oh, and did I mention I was shooting transparency. With me on the shoot was a video crew for another part of the project so delaying the shoot any longer wasn’t an option. I racked my brain trying to translate the Sunny 16 rule to work indoors with fluorescents and sodium vapors but didn’t have much luck with that. After sharing my secret with the videographer we came up with a plan to work off of his exposure and hope our ISO rating were close. In the end after a test roll at the lab the transparencies turned out and the job went to print with the client none the wiser. I now shoot digital and keep my meter in the camera case.

Rams Suren says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm

When I was aged 7, I received some Christmas money and headed off to Hamleys to buy some toys. Now Hamleys is London’s most famous toy shop and you can spend hours just looking around and being entertained by staff showing off the latest gadgets and gizmos on one of the many floors. Anyway, we proceeded around the store and I found a telescope on offer for around £20. The picture showed a decent sized image of the moon and after ET I thought the moon was cool so I paid for it and went home. The next day after school, I went around my local area with the telescope and looked at buildings, adverts basically anything within sight. I was told not to look at the sun so I waited till nightfall hoping to catch the moon. I waited for a few days and lo and behold there was the moon. Now although the telescope was very basic, it did enlarge the moon so I was impressed and told all my school friends about it. After a couple of days of use, I left the telescope in the box and forgot about it. A few weeks later in class we were studying the planets and I was amazed by how different they were. I asked my science teacher whether I could see anything other than the moon with my telescope. She told me that unless I had a very expensive telescope, the answer was no. Now I love a challenge, so I thought I would find a planet (which are larger than than the moon – so it’s a piece of cake with my new £20 telescope). I scanned the sky that evening (being careful to stay away from the sun) and found nothing. I thought maybe I could find a planet In the evening so I waited till dark. After a few minutes I found a bright object with a line across it ! I thought this must be the planet with rings around it. I asked my parents where my camera was (after all I needed evidence for the teacher).
They asked me why and I explained. They then had a look through the telescope, looked again and then laughed. I got a bit angry and asked why they were laughing at my find.
They told me to put the camera away – I was looking at a telephone wire crossing the moon!

John A. says:

on January 4, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Bless me Joe for I have sinned… I shoot in .jpg ..a ..an .and I do the occasional over saturated HDR

Love the video, made me smile on a crappy day. =)

Omar says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:00 pm

My biggest sin was buying a D40 and believing myself that the camera was way more than I’d ever want so I’d never have to buy more stuff. Roughly 4,000 in cameras, lenses, accessories, computers and software later…

John Leonard says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

I had already logged about 8 hours of shooting on the wedding day with a miserable head cold in early October. The only real motivation keeping me going was I was getting to use my new D300s. I had received it the week before, but had not gotten to really play with it. No custom settings yet, no dialing in the focus on each of my lenses, heck I had barely figured out where all the buttons were over my D90. But the new toy was running sweet, and it had been tested by fire, so to speak, during the day.

I had shot a little video with my D90, and was really digging the fact that the D300s can autofocus while shooting video. It dawned on me to shoot some video of the couple thanking their parents to include on the DVD slide show. I snuck the couple out, started rolling the video, but the autofocus was really slow, so I just switched that little leaver on the front to M, cranked the focus ring and presto, sharply focused video. The only problem is I forgot to throw the focus back to S or C leaving my camera without the ability to focus. Now back to the part about not having any custom settings. The one thing I had found in the menu was allowing the camera to make a frame without being in focus. Yep, you guessed it I had turned that of during some burst shooting earlier the day before while playing. So I’m shooting at 10mm in a dark reception for the next hour, with off camera flash, with a head cold, tired, and come to find out I need to order some -1.0 diopters for the eye piece. So do you think I was able to tell in the viewfinder that people were let’s just say out of focus a bit? Heck no! Seriously, shot an entire hour and every frame except the luckily-at-the-same-distance-the-video-was-frames were blurry. Garter toss, keg stands (yes really), exit, driving away all blurry…..Thank God for second shooters….Punishment from God…the second shooter is my wife, and I will never hear the end of this nor did I that night on the hour drive home.

Frank Klimek says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm

To keep it short, I rented a second body (5D MkII) and an 85mm f/1.2 to shoot my first wedding. The night before the wedding, I cranked the up ISO on the sum-bich to nuclear limits and took a few test shots. Impressive compared to my 50D’s, but still nasty.

Wedding day is here… guess where the ISO setting was for 75% of the day.*%$#!!!!!!

What I saw on my MacPro when I grew the balls to look the next day, made me sick. The key thing is that this, being my first wedding, was free(ish) just to get a little exposure. The groom was/is a somewhat famous radio guy and has connections out the wazoo. Lucky for me this was a small, hip wedding where most of the folks dressed like my folks did in my own childhood photos. I did a little tweaking in PS4, and ta-da, vintage black and white with lots of grain.

They loved it.

This was -and will be- my last wedding shoot. My heart just can’t take the stress…


Jay Rodriguez says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:23 pm


Ranger 9 says:

on January 4, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Is spending the rest of your life as a photographer a harsher penance than spending the rest of your life as a photo-blogger?

Carroll Owens says:

on January 4, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Thirty four years and sixty eight days ago my wife gave birth to our youngest child, a beautiful daughter. Four years previously an equally handsome son had been born. When Nate arrived I was relegated to a waiting room. Things changed by the time Janis made her appearance. Now I had a command performance in the delivery room. With not much else to do, I asked if I might record the event photographically. Permission was granted and the old Spotmatic was put to use. The next day the exposed film was placed in what turned out to be the world’s flimsiest envelope. About a week later (since I had written a return address in the appropriate location) I received by return mail said envelope with a 35mm canister sized hole in it. Does anyone send film in the mail any more? If you do, put an address label on the can.

I still get a little sick to my stomach thinking about it.

Graham says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:02 am

Probably setting off on a 200-mile drive and *eventually* realising that the reason there was so much space in my wee car was that I’d forgotten my camera – quite how I managed to overlook a 300 f/2.8 with a D300 hanging off the back I’m still not sure…..

almostinfamous says:

on January 5, 2010 at 12:04 am

I am not sure who is the sinner here, though i guess there is plenty of blame to go around.

Ok, so there i was shooting a charity walk to raise awareness about the disabled. I shot the whole event, waking up before sunrise to head to the location and shoot which is amazing dedication from a night-owl like me. got some amazing pictures in the early morning light and there was just a hint of mist on that day which added to the awesomeness of the morning. i huffed and puffed for over 2 hrs including the grip-and-grins which included some bigshots of our city (police comish, the district head etc) and some group shots at the end.

I then swap the nearly-full card out of the camera(but leave it in the bag) for another empty one and hand the whole set off to my colleague who has to shoot a separate event in the evening while i head out on a photowalk with some friends(shooting a film camera) and then a family dinner later in the day.

Then, during the event, as a gesture of goodwill to the photographer who hired him as a second shooter, my colleague hands out the 8GB card since that guy is having a bad hair day. what nobody realized was that the files that I shot that AM had not yet been copied to our hard drives. Needless to say, the files haven’t been recovered(they were overwritten with 40 Megapixel phase-one files) and neither has my reputation with the charity who asked me to shoot the event.

i think though, that the moral of the story is that the path of callousness is paved with good intentions. in fact, the good intentions seem to work extra hard to create hydroplaning.

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