I Thought Gravity Only Applied To Apples


“Damn you, Sir Issac Newton”, my immediate response. And there I was thinking that gravity only applied to apples! Staring down at my camera rolling around on the sidewalk this was made blatantly clear as not being so. Probably the most expensive ‘apple’ to grace the Japanese streets of Kawasaki City on that fateful night for sure! As a photographer it’s a personal trait of mine to not have any slings or straps connected to my cameras. Invariably I shoot on tripods for longer shutter work and don’t like to risk vibrations caused by wind acting on straps etc. Either that or attached to motion control sliders for time-lapse shoots where a strap would just be something else that could get caught on any one of the mechanical components of the gear. Motion blur is one thing, camera shake is another. So the night in question I needed to get out for some ‘Pixel Therapy’, we’d had a house full of my wife’s family and as much as I love them all I don’t speak the lingo so a day of full on family celebrations in Japanese had me clamouring to head out for some peace. I find solace in imaging, that sense of wellbeing when it’s only a camera, a lens and an opportunity to create art with the shadows, light and tones one only finds in a city after dark.

I was initially attracted to an old pushbike, piled high with an assortment of plastic buckets. It just looked so, normal. It had been left parked outside what could only be described as a fish cleaning facility, as my nostrils quickly noted. The noticeable pungent smell of marine fare disgorging its intestinal cavity was pretty familiar. Having lived throughout Asia, Indonesia and Micronesia over the years it’s a smell that one quickly becomes used to. OK, so it may be somewhat more offensive than an unchanged pair of week old mountain socks after an 876mile trek between Lands End and John O’Groats. More so if said trek had been completed in a dodgy pair of old Army Boots, but it is a smell that, nonetheless, I’d grown accustomed to. I envisaged the shot of the old bicycle bathed in the dull light from the unit when, as I approached, I noted this gaggle of older men intensely engaged in discussion. It was a great moment in time, real. Just a part of city life, no models no staged props, just life.

I had the camera preset with my Irix 15mm Blackstone lens locked at infinity, I was shooting at f2.4 and had ISO800 selected on my EOS5DSr. This in turn afforded me a shutter of 1/15th of a second, lift the camera, visually compose, tuck the elbows in, a few easy breaths, hold, click, breath out. In hind sight given the edit and the aesthetic I was after I could have gone to ISO1600 for 1/30th to maybe wring just that added sharpness from the image but for me, it works. As I was still straddling my bicycle and on my intended way into the heart of the City I decided I wanted to snag another shot or two. So I placed my camera in my chest bag and went to find a place to prop my bicycle. That foot stand on the bike had always given me problems and had become stuck again, bending down to resolve the issue, and then it happened….

Gravity can apply both to the phenomena of an invisible force grabbing my camera sending it crashing to the ground as much as to the gravity of the situation said incident had abandoned me to. I know I should have had a strap, even a wrist strap attached for street photography, alas, I didn’t. I know I should have zipped up that chest bag that I place my camera in when not shooting, alas, I didn’t. I only have myself to blame. This was just my second composition taken that fateful night. It was just ten minutes after leaving the house.

Bending down to recuperate the camera as it rolled around on the concrete with characteristics matched only by those of a shy hedgehog, my mind was racing. That sense of reality when you know you’ve broken something that means so much to you, but you need to check anyway started flooding my veins. I felt warm, yet it was just 5deg celsius. Yup, it was screwed. Gravity mixed with a little, maybe more, of that cursed ‘Sods Law’ had dealt a cruel blow. I tried to adjust focus, completely jammed. There was a noise, similar to the mashed gearbox of that Triumph Spitfire I once briefly owned as a teenager, emanating from within its magnesium exterior. I didn’t want to force it, it was, like that Spitfire, beyond repair so I just left it at that. Such is life. We make the decisions and roll with the punches. From here on in I guess I’ll be changing that one rule for my street photography. I’ll be sure to update you once I find a suitable neck strap that I’m comfortable with, if I can just find Flava Flav’s business card!

As for the lens? Hopefully a replacement will be sent over from the factory, it is after all a piece of glass that was provided by a sponsor so fingers crossed it all goes painlessly. Watch this space. And if you are a photographer with a penchant for street imaging, be sure to not get on the bad side of gravity, it kinda sucks!

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