My Camera Drowns

This summer, we decided to go hiking in North Wales. All the pictures from the HF Holidays brochure looked fantastic, with brilliant sunshine lighting craggy mountains.

Pictures Colour Library  - PCL

Beautiful, sunny Wales

What a lie! There is a reason that the grass is so green. The rain is omnipresent, ubiquitous, pervasive, universal and infinite. It rains in the morning, noon and night, on the hills and plains, in the towns, on the mountains, on the people, on the sheep…you get the picture.

We stayed in a lovely guest house in Dolgelly and enjoyed everything about our trip, including the people, the guides, the food and the lodgings. Everything but the rain.

I had two cameras with me. “Had” is the operative word here. My Canon 5d Mk II was going to be my main body, combined with a number of very nice lenses. As back-up and for casual snapshots, I brought a Fuji X-100.

The first day of our holiday featured a very nice walk along the estuary on the Mawddach Trail. It was drizzling lightly all day, but it was  occasionally bright and breezy. My Canon was around my neck for most of the day, protected from the elements by a light rain jacket. Did I mention that the Canon 5d mk II is not waterproof?

The second day was a much more strenuous day. We took a short bus ride to the start of a ridge walk and began our 2,000 foot ascent up a steep, grassy incline. It was raining hard. I tucked my Canon into my backpack and hung the X100 inside my jacket. My backpack was a giveaway from Microsoft at a conference many years ago. It has accompanied me on many walks even though it is not really a hiking backpack. The MEC folks would sneer at me. As I discovered, the backpack had magical qualities. It would let water in, but wouldn’t let it out. About halfway along our walk, we reached the peak of our ascent and posed for pictures near a cairn. The wind was howling and the rain was coming down in sheets. I reached into my backpack for my Canon camera and found it sitting in a pool of water! When I looked at the rear LCD, there was a high water mark like water in an aquarium.

Two drowned rats with one drowned Canon camera

The X100 became the go-to camera, but it was having difficulties of its own. For those of you who have owned this camera, you’ll know that it suffers from a malady known as “sticky blades” where the aperture blades stick wide open. Auto exposure fails to work in aperture priority mode. Fortunately, manual mode did work as long as you didn’t expect the camera to measure under-over exposure. In other words, it operated a bit like a 1950’s manual camera. You had to guess at the exposure, take a snap, look at the result, guess again and keep doing that until the exposure looked good.

When I got back to the hotel, I did a very dumb thing. I started off OK by taking the battery out of the Canon and drying its innards with a hair dryer. But, I was too impatient. When the camera looked dry, I popped the battery back in, turned the camera on and fried all the circuits. Had I packed the camera away in rice, it may have dried out over time, but sadly I didn’t. $1,500 worth of camera gone in a day!

The rest of the trip went much better. The weather was very wet, but the scenery was spectacular and the people were very friendly. I got used to the Fuji and made some very nice travel shots.

In my next post, I’ll describe my camera cogitations as I debated options to replace the Canon camera.

Here are some photos from North Wales:

View from the top of the ridge

View from an old ring fort


View of ring fort from below

Old dry stone wall

Flowers grow well in the rain




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