Friday, February 26, 2010

The cost of doing business

I just approved a repair order for one of the Nikon digital cameras I use.
Now I'm old enough to remember nickel candy bars, when a dollar bought four gallons of gasoline, and a meal of a hamburger, fries, and a drink at the Golden Arches was 46 cents.
So maybe I can be excused for once in a while thinking "Wow, but that's expensive."
The camera failure was nothing cataclysmic. It wasn't dropped, drenched, or otherwise destroyed.
In the middle of a shoot, it simply quit working.
Without getting too technical, the camera display registered "FEE" meaning that for whatever reason, the lens was not communicated with the camera body.
I cleaned the contacts, switched out lenses, etc., to no avail. Whatever gremlin was at work, it wasn't one that I was going to track down.
So I packed the camera up and shipped it off to California.
I got the estimate back the other day: $224. With shipping and handling, the total came to $253 and change.
I'm suspecting that there was nothing real serious wrong with the body, that $224 is the minimum charge for merely unpacking the camera and taking a quick look at it.
And I'd bet that since the shutter and most everything else still functioned, the "fix" will be a simple one, albeit one that I wasn't going to figure out.
While the repairman is at it, he'll clean the camera up, make any other adjustments, as well.
The camera originally cost $2,000 so all in all, the repair/refurbish fee is reasonable. For some people, a couple hundred bucks is just walkin'-around money anyway.
I only work for a newspaper, I don't own it so I'm one of those guys who feels pretty flush if I'm carrying an unbroken twenty in my back pocket.
I approved the estimate and am impatiently awaiting the return of the camera body.
Oh, just more thing: The factory warranty on it ran out six weeks ago.
Imagine that!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Great video on the making of a great picture

It's a moment most sports photographers dream of. A big game (in this case, THE big game), close score, time running out. The team's driving down the field. Then, there it is. The pass to win the game comes YOUR way. The crowd goes bananas. But the question remains: Did you get it?

Of course, today it's a matter of looking at that 2.5-inch screen on the back of your camera to see if your hard work and planning have paid off. Sometimes that little screen can carry a lot of disappointment. We all hope that in those brief moments all of the planning, practice and study of the craft and the game has paid off. Many times Lady Luck (or a stray referee, or the Evil Autofocus Fairy) has a different plan.

With this year's Big Game just around the corner, has this fantastic video about about Getty's Streeter Lecka and Sports Illustrated's Al Tielemans and their experiences trying to capture the defining moment in last year's Super Bowl, Santonio Holmes' catch in the corner of the end zone to win the game for the Pittsburg Steelers (Tielemans' photo made SI's cover above).

The video not only shares the experience of two great photographers and how being separated by just a few feet can make all the difference, but the technology used to make the video itself is absolutely fascinating!