Where’s the Silver Lining in the Cloudy, Stagnant Pool?

The Cascade, Virginia Water, Windsor Great Park

For the last few weeks I have been promising to take my eldest son (George, aged five) to Virginia Water on the edge of Windsor Great Park to photograph the waterfall. We were planning to arrive there in time for the sunrise so, as you might expect, the evening before was spent making sure batteries for both our cameras were fully charged and that all kit was laid out ready to go.

The getting up and getting there went off without a hitch. However, as we prepared to take the initial test shots, George reported battery failure. “No problem, I brought plenty of spares” I reassured him. I took the freshly charged batteries from my bag and replaced the duds in his camera. He switched on and… nothing. Three more sets of freshly charged cells later and… still nothing. (I’ll be ranting about this another time.)

Okay, so the sun is creeping up over the trees and we don’t have time to go to buy some more, so we agree to share my camera. One memory card each, taking it in turns to compose the shot, George operating the shutter release.

The “silver lining”? George gets to use Daddy’s “big camera” and the experience was a little more shared than it might have been.

We move down to the edge of the stream and perch carefully on a large flat boulder to get some low shots. We are a bit too close to get everything in, so we need a lens change. This is the point where it turns out the batteries in my brain are also going flat! I flip the camera onto its back and undo the lens. Then, as I reach down to pick up the replacement lens, I catch the tripod and catapult the lens out of the mount. I watch it falling (in slow motion, of course) towards the boulder we are stood on, anticipating the smash as lens and rock make contact. But it doesn’t break. No, it bounces and continues its slow-mo trajectory towards the stream!

As I jump into the stream (anyone who knows me will realize this is a shameful exaggeration!) I expect to struggle to locate the lens, assuming it would have sunk immediately. Instead, it was bobbing on the surface, making its way towards the faster flowing section. I was quite surprised that it floated, although this was short lived. A rapid series of bubbles escaped from the lens and it sank like a stone.

I have dried the lens out, but I have no doubt it is ruined. There are water stains on the internal glass surfaces, there are bits of mud visible between lens groups and I can’t begin to describe the sound when I turn the focussing ring!

The “silver lining”? It was a cheap lens (about £75) purchased as a fill-in while I save up the £900 for the one I really want. Throwing away £75 still hurts, but imagine doing that with a £900 lens you spent a year saving up for! Also, we did have a great time and we will always be able to look back and laugh about that time Dad threw his lens in the river and dived in after it (I’m sure I’ll be embellishing it even more over time!).

If you try hard enough, you can always find a positive among the negatives.

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