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My most ridiculous travel photography mishaps

Ah, travel photography. The pursuit of taking pictures of stunning sunsets, stunning landscapes, etc excellent Instagram moment. But let’s be honest, it’s not all glamorous websites and envy-inducing news. Sometimes, travel photography involves a healthy dose of self-deprecation and a misplaced (or should I say, missing?) piece of equipment.

Here’s a glimpse into my personal hall of shame, a collection of the most ridiculous photography gear I’ve ever managed to lose while flying around the world, or even just driving cross-country.

I lost a lot of great action shots
I lost a lot of great action shots

Crikey! Where did Dundee go? (Far North Queensland)

Ah, the joy of wildlife photography! The adrenaline rush of catching a predator in its natural habitat. Well, that was the plan, at least. But this time, my FNQ adventure turned into a classic case of digital disaster.

Picture the scene: I’m on the edge of my seat, heart pounding, camera held in sweaty hands. There he is – a magnificent alligator, a crocodile wizard, a veritable ‘Dundee’ in the making, lumbering out of the water. This is IT – the shot I’ve been waiting for! I tap my finger on the shutter button, unleashing burst-mode madness worthy of a photographer’s pit. Hundreds of frames were captured to perfectly document every dangerous move the crocodile makes.

Except… in my excitement (and maybe a touch of heatstroke), I made a rookie mistake. Instead of waiting for the camera to turn off before you finish writing to the card, you can quickly change a nearly dead battery. I mean I didn’t want to miss any of the events. The camera clicks ominously, the red light flashes teasingly, and my heart sinks faster than a stone in a crocodile-infested billabong. None of that footage was saved properly!!!

Did you just ditch the digital equivalent of Steve Irwin arguing with an angry salty? I bet I did. Hundreds of action shots have disappeared. Poof. It disappeared into the digital abyss. Fortunately, I brought a spare SD card (and a new battery) and kept shooting, but I did miss those first killer shots.

Willunga Beach - I hope your lens hood and fallen key are very happy here
Willunga Beach – I hope the lens cap and key that fell off are very happy here

Large Lens Hood (Willunga Beach, South Australia)

Gorgeous beach at sunset? Checks. Even a romantic stroll along the water’s edge? Checks. Lens hood mysteriously MIA? Double check. Apparently, my lens hood needed a permanent beach vacation. I’m sure it’s buried in the sand over there somewhere. I also lost a key that fell off my tripod there as well. I hope the fallen key and Ens cap are very happy there. It’s a beautiful spot.

The drone was nearly lost over Bass Strait
The drone was nearly lost over Bass Strait

Drone disappearance disaster (Port Arthur, Tasmania)

Imagine flying over Tasmania’s breathtaking coastline, capturing the dramatic landscape from a bird’s eye view. Except my drone control skills were like those of a drunkard bee. I didn’t know that the ramps were made of some metal that interfered with the wifi signals. One wrong push on the joystick, and… Poof – The drone veered off, disappearing into the vast Southern Ocean. It will likely still orbit somewhere above Bass Strait if a freak breeze blows it away enough for it to be able to recover the signal. I flew it high over the cliffs to bring it back. But it was close!

Safer drone indoors
Safer drone indoors

Lessons learned (maybe)

My travel photography mishaps have certainly taught me a valuable lesson (or two). Triple check your memory cards and do not turn off the camera before you finish writing photos. Lens caps and drop switches are not optional (and tend to wander). And maybe, just maybe, leave the drone flying to the professionals.

So, next time you see a travel photographer looking confused, don’t judge him. Maybe they remember the time their camera gear went on an unplanned adventure of its own. Because at least the travel stories are memorable, even if the pictures aren’t.

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