That Rock Star Week of Model Photography in Costa Rica
This was a rock star week for me. I took photos that I was super pleased with. But more than that, I triumphed over the tribulations.
It started on Sunday with a shoot with Cindy and Leidy. Fantastic shoot at the beautiful and tranquilo Doce Lunas Hotel in Jaco. Smooth and laidback shoot, nothing out of the ordinary. (Leidy, I think is now my official butt model.)
On Tuesday, I did a photoshoot for Rasta-Rica, maker of exquisite barefoot sandals, at a gorgeous house up in the mountains of Playa Hermosa, overlooking the beach with Marina, Alejandra, Bianca, and Kimberly (and then the little princess child, Uju).
Friday morning, I shot the beautiful Raquel on the beach for her birthday. Super. (Photos below.)
Into the Deep Blue
Every shoot was great, no doubt. But Tuesday marked the beginning of awesome. Early on in the shoot, while setting up for a shot with Marina, I fell completely into the deep end of the pool with my new 5D Mark III and Sigma 120-400mm lens attached. Total submersion and, of course, my camera died on the spot. It wasn’t a devastating moment, though; the energy in that shoot was so unbelievably good that nothing could stop it. I’ve never been on a shoot with a better vibe. And I still had my old camera to shoot with and other lenses. So I could manage.
Oddly, earlier that the morning, I had taken to Facebook to lament that I had fallen into a rut, shooting with my 120-400mm and that I was going to change things up starting that very day. So it kind of worked out exactly how I hoped. Except for the sinking of my camera.
Toward the end of that shoot on Tuesday, my old camera had gone entirely haywire. It was the reason I bought the Mark III to start with; the Mark II was five years old with a rusted out hot shoe, couldn’t communicate via the USB port any longer, and would freeze up randomly. The last few shots on Tuesday were taken without being able to change settings and without the benefit of previewing images on the LCD screen. So by that point, I was a photographer without a working camera.
When I fell in the pool, I knew going down what I was looking at: $4500 of gear is about to get trashed. As I fell in, I held my arm up as high as I could above my head but had no idea how deep the pool was. I went completely under. I rushed to the surface in confusion, someone grabbed me or the camera or both. I towel-dried it quickly and put it in a bag of rice. For two days it sat in rice. And on the third day? The morning that I was to shoot Raquel? On the third day, it rose from the dead. Kind of.
Beast Mode / Zombie Mode
The day before, I put the battery in the camera to see if there were any signs of life. Nothing. I forgot I left the battery in and then that night, the self-timer lamp came on. And the choir sang Hallelujah in the background of my mind. That the lamp came on was a complete malfunction. But it was something. A sign of life. So Friday morning, I powered it on and there it was: my camera was alive. Everything was working. I could change all the settings, scroll through the memory card… I could do it all. I attached a lens to take a shot and then it failed. Because everything was working except the communication between lens and camera.
I had the shoot with Raquel in an hour and so fiddled with it. I meticulously cleaned the contacts. I wiped down every reachable inch. No luck. I had resolved myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be shooting with it. I grabbed my old camera, powered it on, and it was frozen.
Shutter speed: 1/250
Stepped outside, took a picture and I couldn’t see it. No feedback. Had absolutely no idea what was going on but I knew it was overexposed.
I called Raquel and told her I couldn’t do it; that my cameras weren’t working. She was cool and I may have been more disappointed than her. Got off the phone and I looked at what I had in front of me. And then I worked it out.
Up the Game
For my old camera, even though I always shoot in manual, I could just simply set it to aperture priority so the camera could adjust for shutter speed and produce manageable photos, even though I couldn’t see them. 1600 ISO isn’t horrific; I take a lot of high ISO shots but this would be broad daylight on the beach. Still, this was doable.
I was still vexed by not being able to shoot with my new camera, though. Everything seemed to be fine except for the lens/camera communication. Then it hit me. I have a 105mm old school Nikkor lens that someone gave me a few years ago. It attaches to my camera via a separate Nikkor-to-Canon adpater ring. And it doesn’t touch the contacts. Everything is manual.
My eyes brightened, I grabbed the lens, hooked it up. Bam. I’m in business. I called Raquel back and told her that we could shoot. I packed my gear and headed for the end of the beach. I could do this. And I did. WE did. Two-thirds of the shots were taken with the 105mm on the new camera, the other third with the 24mm on the old camera. Toward the very end of the shoot, the old camera popped back into normal mode and allowed me to change settings.