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The Magic Camera Lives!

The Magic Camera Lives!

on Dec 5, 2013 in Blog, Travel Log

A story of survival in the harshest winter conditions.

Up until recently, we were traveling with one point and shoot camera. Kevin is generally the one snapping the pictures, while I wander around pausing periodically waiting for him to catch up.

We’ve had our point and shoot camera for a few years. It’s known as the “magic camera” — a nickname earned due to it’s ability to take great photos in low lighting during our trip with friends to Peru a few years ago. The camera was starting to lose its magic. The edges of pictures were a bit distorted. We also noticed a small scratch on the lens that could be seen on certain pictures. Maybe it was time for a new camera…

As luck would have it, we had a couple hours to kill in the Singapore airport on our way to New Zealand. After window shopping, we decided to invest in a new camera to ensure our experiences would be captured just the way we remembered. And the added benefit was that I could now have my very own camera to help document our  adventure. We soon learned why giving me a camera of my own might not have been a good idea.

Less than a week into our New Zealand leg, we were scheduled to do a hike on the Franz Joseph Glacier with our friends from home. The only way to reach the glacier was by helicopter. The tour company outfitted everyone with their gear including coats, pants, mittens, socks, boots, and a small satchel with our crampons. The guides instructed us that anything that we wanted to take on the trip must fit in the small bag alongside the crampons.

If you know me, then you also know that I like to be prepared. A cold or hungry Jillaine, tends not to be a happy one. So, I tried to squeeze everything I thought I might need into the bag…just in case!

Of course, when all was said and done there were only three items in my satchel that I used during our glacier hike: my crampons, of course; my gloves and my camera. Everything else was just extra weight and obstacle. You see, I had placed my camera in the top of the bag, so that I could easily access it when needed, but then tuck it away when it was not in use. (Sadly, there were no pockets in the jackets or the pants provided!) However, the fact that my camera was at the top seemed to slip my mind when I went to put my crampons away. I opened the bag and pulled out an item to make room for the crampons when … kerplunk … the magic camera took a spill, literally.

I watched the camera fall onto the ice and slide into a small little stream that just happened to be where I was standing. I quickly reacted, but not until the camera had been fully submerged in the water. I rescued it and quickly tried to dry the camera using the mittens provided. I inserted the camera into the mitten, and with a little help secured all my belongings into my bag. The witnesses to the accident (whose names have been omitted to protect the innocent) took a vow of silence and promised not to breathe a word of what they witnessed.

Now what do I do? I was feeling a bit like a child. I had been given a privilege and in a matter of days, I had already ruined it! I was concerned how Kevin would react , so I debated on whether to tell him now on top of the mountain before our helicopter decent or whether to wait until sometime later to share the bad news and the demise of the magic camera.

As we waited for our helicopter to arrive and take us off the glacier, I made my way towards Kevin and decided to share the mishap with him. He quickly inspected the camera, which was still wet, and decided to pull the memory card and battery hoping that we could at least salvage the photos. Kevin had used the magic camera during the first few days of the trip and the photos had not been backed up since before we arrived to New Zealand. I felt a bit sick, as I would hate to loose the photos from our first week with our friends, due to my irresponsibility.

We left the camera lens closed and attempted to dry it off the best that we could. We proceeded to wipe it off again when we got down and then let the camera lay out to dry over the next few days.

Luckily, Kevin was able to access and salvage all of our pictures! The memory card and battery survived the spill and neither appeared to be impacted. After a day or two of drying, we inspected the camera again. The lens opened and it appeared to still work! However, there was still a big patch of moisture on the inside of the lens. We powered the camera back down and decided to allow it dry out for a few additional days, hoping that the moisture would continue to evaporate.

After a few more days in the dry, New Zealand climate, the haze on the lens disappeared. We snapped a few trial photos and it appeared that the magic camera was back in action and again worthy of its name! I was so relieved! I, too, am back in action with the camera and am trying to be a bit more responsible.

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