Holi – the camera’s view

Yesterday I blogged about my experiences at the Holi festival last weekend. Now it’s time to see it from the camera’s point of view. The camera in question was only recently acquired – second-hand from Amazon at a princely sum of £38. I made my mind up even before I bought my ticket back in April that there was no way I was going to take my Sony A700, so I looked around for a cheap point and shoot and found one in the form of a Nikon Coolpix S6000. The good news was that I fell in love with it and the ability to take macro shots – something I have been unable to do before. The bad news was that as the festival approached I couldn’t bear to risk it being ruined with the coloured powder. Things came to a head one evening when my husband peered over my shoulder as I was working on a recent bee shot and said he could understand why I didn’t want to lose the little camera. Within minutes I was back on Amazon looking for a replacement, but there were no more S6000 cameras to be had. In the end I settled on the S3500 because the way they operated seemed to be almost identical. It had taken months to get used to a different camera. I only had a couple of weeks left.

Of course there were a lot of limitations. I had to leave the settings on Auto as that was the only option that gave me control over the ISO. Aperture and shutter speed were all down to the camera and I must admit there were times when I couldn’t understand the logic. Sometimes the shutter speed was way more than necessary and yet the lens had been left wide open. Why not reduce the speed and allow a little more depth of field? In spite of that I was just happy to have a working camera to take to Holi and I was prepared to put up with the odd inconvenience.

Because I was unable to protect the camera with cling film or a rain sleeve due to the design, I taped up the cover to the battery and memory card. Spare gaffer tape was stuck to the camera case if I needed a clean strip and for the most part I walked around with the camera tucked inside my loose top. It still had a regular coating of powder though, which I tried to remove on a regular basis with the blower brush I kept on hand at all times. At one point both the camera and I got liberally spattered with bright yellow paint, but a quick trip to a portaloo sorted everything out. In my rucksack I carried an entire pack of wet wipes, a whole box of tissues and a new lens cleaning kit. (There was no way I was going to share the one I use on the Sony).

The camera performed well, apart from one occasion when it simply froze. I had to walk well away from the powder in order to remove the battery before inserting it again. That seemed to do the trick and I was grateful for the extra gaffer tape I had brought along.

For the very last throw before I left for home, I threw caution to the wind and wormed my way into the centre. The result can be seen as the featured image at the top, but within milliseconds of pressing the shutter, everything went black and it felt as though someone had thrown about ten pounds of flour on my head. I could hardly breathe and worse still, I couldn’t see to get out. When I finally reached the perimeter it was to find the camera totally covered in a thick layer of powder. I shook off what I could and used the blower like a thing possessed. I knew I mustn’t use the zoom or even turn off the camera until every last speck had been removed. If the external zoom took any of the dust inside, then I was probably doomed. There is only so much cleaning you can do in those conditions and I had to cross my fingers that the worst case scenario was a damaged camera, but one where I could retrieve the images once I got home.

The photographs were fine, but I didn’t dare attempt to clean the camera for several days. When I did, I was amazed at just how little powder was left and in no time the Coolpix was looking spotless. I did a few test shots and there would appear to be nothing on the lens (or worse still, behind the front element). Seeing as I still have a fully functioning “festival” camera, I decided to push my luck one more time. I have just bought myself a ticket for another Holi event next month…

Flower Girl

Flower Girl

Girl with the Apple

Girl with the Apple

Girl with the Pearl Earring

Girl with the Pearl Earring

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