First let me say, having an opportunity to help the Alabama’s Forever Wild Program through my photography is a privilege and an honor. My personal situation in that regard took a bit of an unfortunate turn yesterday afternoon (11/28/2009). My intentions were to capture more of the beauty of the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve with my camera. The water was beautiful and I was working at the edge of Turkey Creek in an area of rocks and rapids. It was very early in the process and I had only taken a few shots. As I moved to look at a different view of the scene, my Nikon D700 camera with my Nikkor 70-300mm VR Zoom lens attached, mounted on my tripod leaned just enough to tumble into the creek. My instinct was to get the camera as quickly as possible, to try and save it, to avoid losing it completely. Into the creek I went, flailing as I slipped on the slick rocks. Luckily I managed to get a hand on the tripod, pull the camera out of the water, and after falling a few more times, I made it to the shore.
My clothing, my hiking boots, my jacket, and of course my camera were completely soaked. Slowly I gathered my camera bag and trudged back to my car. Fortunately I had a large beach towel, a pair of jeans, a shirt, and a pair of running shoes in the trunk. Fortunately I did not get seriously injured in the several falls in the creek on the slick rocks. It did require me to change clothes in my car, all the time hoping nobody would come by at just the wrong moment and have me arrested for indecent exposure.
Once in dry clothing, the first thing I did was call Beth Young. My thoughts were that Beth was an experienced veteran of almost every possible situation and could give me an idea of the chance of salvaging my camera. It turns out I was right, she understood the situation and basically told me that the camera was a total loss. Less than a year ago, I purchased the D700 at the Wolf Camera store in Homewood. It occurred to me that I had bought the extended protection plan when I purchased the camera. From the Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, I drove directly to the Wolf Camera store in Homewood, AL where one of the employees (Chris) confirmed Beth’s diagnosis and my worst fears, the camera and the lens were a total loss. The protection plan will help ease the expense, the camera will be sent to Nikon USA where it will either be repaired (doubtful because of the degree of water damage) or replaced. The lens was not so lucky because I had not purchased an extended protection plan for it.
The best estimate they could give me was that maybe I would hear something from Nikon in 12 weeks or so. Until that is resolved, I will have to focus on photos I have already taken and work on learning some new skills on processing and work flow. In normal circumstances, I would probably look at purchasing another camera body to use now and have as a back-up later, and I would also probably simply replace the lens. Unfortunately, I was downsized back in March from my job as IT Director that I had held the past nine years for a company in Birmingham. So, money is very tight, the job market is very tough, and I don’t have the flexibility I would have had when I was working.
The camera now becomes part of the waiting game I have been playing since I was downsized. Nikon will decide what will happen and when I will have a camera again. The zoom lens is a casualty.
If I had to offer any advice from my experience, it would be a few things. Buy your camera equipment from a reputable camera store, purchase the extended protection plan, always have an emergency kit in your car (clothes, etc.), try not to shoot alone in remote areas, If anyone has any influence with Nikon, I would appreciate any effort to expedite Nikon’s efforts for my camera. Photography is my creative outlet. Photography natural areas for environmental and conservation efforts is something that I believe is important.
At this point, I am hoping for some breaks to go my way. The road has been a bit rocky since March 2009.