Lamia had bought Formula 1 walkabout tickets for us a while ago. Not that we are big F1 fans. Or F1 fans to begin with. But living in the very city where the Formula 1 night race takes place and never going would be really super lame.
So yesterday night we put Oskar to bed and left Tess in charge.
Just before leaving I realized that I did not get my camera bag out of the wardrobe in Oskar’s room where he was now sleeping, of course. Lamia offered to sneak in and get it for me, but with the heavy sliding doors and all the stuff in the wardrobe where the bag is I was anxious something would fall, make noise and wake up the little guy.
So I made…
Bad Decision #1
Leo: It’s okay – I take my camera like that.
To be fair this is not unusual and I do this all the time: strap of the 6D with mounted EF 70-300 L lens and lens cap around my shoulder. Really not that big of a deal. I was not worried about people trying to steal it or being squeezed in the crowd – it’s not that difficult to protect your gear in such situations and I have done it countless times (the crowds… not so much robberies).
But as you will see, this was not about to be the problem.
We took the MRT to Raffles Place, entered the area the tickets gave us access to and tried to get an idea where to best watch the qualifying race. We settled for the bridge at Esplanade Drive with view towards the Merlion Park and the Marina Bay Sands (no, I did not take a photo because I only had my zoom lens with me and I did not want to bother trying to figure out the best angle.
After having spent 46 Singdollars for two burgers, two Cokes and some fries we were looking for the best viewing spot in this area. Turns out it’s a shitty place to watch the race. Here’s why: today’s F1 races take place behind massive protective gear. Don’t get me wrong: that’s a good thing and I have not intention to die. But when you are standing on the road you are in front of a barrier. Then a few meters further there’s a wall. Then a few meters further: another wall. On top of which there is a several meters high fence. Only thing missing was barbwire. So in that case even I, with my 193 cm height, could not see the middle of the actual road the race cars drive on – because they are lower than the wall and the distance from the barrier to the street is too far away to have an angle to see anything.
Now, of course there are stands which give you a better view, but you need to find space on them. Given we arrived rather late, they were of course quite full already. The qualifying started and we did not see anything, really. But before we decided to go to another area in the hope of better viewing, we found space on one of the stands.
And this is where my brilliant lens shone as always:
Now, I am not saying these are great photos. You can see the fence on all of them because at 300 mm and an aperture of 5.6 the focus area is not narrow enough to make the fence, which is close to the action, disappear. But they are still alright for the circumstances and most of them are actually nicely focused on the helmet of the driver.
I shot at 300 mm, f5.6 and an ISO between 3200 and 6400, picking an exposure time of 1/500 to 1/800 for the better shots. With the fence in the way and the high speed of the cars, the autofocus of the 6D is not fast enough to lock on them in the fraction of a second they appear (and I doubt that any camera out there would have an autofocus that can). So I pre-focused manually and started shooting in burst the moment I heard them coming around the corner.
I was happily shooting away 200 to 300 photos. At one point in time the qualifying was eventually over.
Despite the abundance of large TV screens along the track and continuous babble coming from the speakers on what’s happening, I had no clue who had won the qualifying. But then again I also did not care that much.
Now it was time to move on to Padang stage where Robbie Williams was expected to perform at 10:30 pm. We joined the crowd there, waited, when 5 minutes before the official start of the concert something happened.
Lamia: Was this a raindrop just now?
And it brought friends. Lots of them. Robbie Williams kicked off with Let Me Entertain You (of course) at 10:30 sharp (a concert beginning on time – that’s unheard of!) and this is when the watergates opened and we were virtually flooded from the top.
Bad decision #2:
We did not bring an umbrella.
We were hiding under a tree, but it hardly provided shelter. Lamia looked at my camera gear with a worried face.
Really, really bad and stupid decision #3:
Leo: Nah, that’s okay – camera and lens are weather sealed.
Yep: in case it was up for debate, here’s the proof: she’s smarter than me.
Note to self: “weather sealed” does not mean “waterproof”… YOU IDIOT!
The rain got worse and worse and we decided to leave.
Lamia was super disappointed – she had been looking forward to seeing Robbie Williams and now we were on our way home, instead, with thousands of other people who were not Robbie Williams. It was a mess! And in the middle of that crowd on our escape to the MRT we were soaked to the bones.
Another bad decision #4:
I started to become uncomfortable with the amount of water on my gear. It was a bloody damn lot. And yet, I did not make the smart move to simply stuff it under my shirt, which would have provided some protection from puddles forming on the camera and lens.
It seemed to take forever, but eventually we made it to an underpass and after that we had to walk a bit more through the rain until we got to Esplanade MRT and caught a train back home.
Now I finally had a closer look at my camera. And holy shit: I could see funny bubbles forming under the LCD screen!
This is when I got worried.
Kinda late, you might say, and I’d reply you’re kinda right.
I turned the camera on and it was no good: whatever button I pressed, it led to the mirror swinging up. I pressed the “Q” button – clack, mirror swinging up. I pressed the “Play” button. Clack. I pressed the “Zoom” button. Clack. I pressed… well, you get the idea.
My gear is fucked!
This realization hit me even harder when we finally got home. The lens did not work anymore, too! I tried it on my 7D and it did not work. No connection, no information on focus mode, aperture… aaaaargh! Shit! Shitshitshit! I kept both the 6D body and the lens open to dry during the night, but this morning the status was still me sitting deep down in the shit barrel: while the 6D had recovered most of its functionality, one of the dials did not function. There is a way to work around it, but it makes me sad. Even worse, the 70-300 L lens is no better today than it was yesterday. At all.
I’ve now put lens and camera in our dry cabinet to see whether this can help fix the problem. I somehow hope that whatever humidity is there will disappear now and miraculously bring my gear back to normal.
But I have not much hope… I am depressed.