I knew the sensors on my 1D Mark III and 5D Mark II were dirty. Filthy even. I had every intention of making the 1 hour drive each way to have my cameras scrubbed inside and out by Vistek. Procrastination can be an evil spirit at times and it took over, and I kept putting it off. I was finally slapped in the face by said evil spirit one morning last month. Mother Nature decided to give us photographers something extraordinary to work worth, so even though I had not slept a wink, I headed out with my dirty gear.
An hour drive of bumper to bumper traffic, and some fog so thick on the highway, I wouldn’t have known if anything was in front of me unless it was hitching a ride on my hood, I arrived at Elk Island National Park a few minutes before the sun rose. I was instantly greeted with the most incredible scenery I’ve seen at the park in years. Almost completely alone in the park, I made my way around the Bison Loop and proceeded to photograph this wondrous fog for the next two hours, with the noises of rumbling bison and coyotes off in the distance keeping me on my toes. Between the ridiculously bright sun and the thick fog, I could barely see what I was doing at times, and viewing the LCD screen became too much of a chore, so I just went with my gut. I was fairly certain all I would need to do was clone any sensor spots which would appear. I was dead wrong …
290 images later, covered in mud, my hair and clothes damp from the morning dew, and feeling completely knackered, I headed home. Once I pulled the images off the cameras, I shrieked so loudly, I’m sure my entire neighborhood heard me; almost every image ruined with something I can only refer to as sensor sludge. After placing a panicked call to a local photographer, he assured me we could save some of these images, but it would take some work. We’ve since gone through the lot and I feel he is wildly optimistic, but I trust him and I look forward to the day we can sit down and work to save some images. (Update – most were not saved. Sad.)
Monstrous lesson learned: procrastination does not have a place in photography. I mentioned my lesson learned at the beginning of our podcast, and I’m repeating it here. Our gear is a financial investment, often considerable at times, and we owe it to ourselves, our gear and those impromptu and rare photographic opportunities to maintain the gear we need to capture these moments. I truly hope my friend and I can save even a handful of these images. Until then, here are just a few of the ones I was able to save myself.
See you in the field! Oh, and keep those sensors clean!