New York, NY 052812 In order to get the images from above for the below blog "Tall Ships." I had to climb the riggings. I was looking forward to this and I had planned accordingly by borrowing a lens from Nikon- a 14mm 2.8
I took the US Coast Guard safety training. I signed my life away. I took off my wedding band, my watch, and my waist pack. Anything that could fall was not to be brought on the climb. So all I took was two cameras which I crisscrossed across my chest. One with the 14mm 2.8 and the other with a 70-200mm 2.8 and a 1.4 TC teleconverter.
The harness system the USCG uses is somewhat different than the type I've used in the past. Theirs secures the legs, a bit in the waist and then it loops over your head and hooks (kind of modified carabineers) to the waist strap. Two straps come off the sides of the harness at hip level and these in turn end in two massive hooks.
In reality you are free climbing most of the time and it is not until you stop that you secure yourself with the hooks. I had climbed pretty high up, I’d say about 50' and secured myself so I could keep shooting as I had been doing during several stops along the way.
The 70-200, which was on the camera on my right side, had proven somewhat unwieldy and kept slapping against my side as I climbed, so this time when I stopped I positioned it in front of me between the strap and my body. As I turned to the left to make a photo with the wide angle, all of a sudden I felt that “something” was not right. I looked down to my right and all I saw was a camera body and no lens.
Somehow the 70-200mm had come off the mount of the 1.4TC. In panic I looked down and I saw a bunch of crewmembers looking up at me. I screamed, "Is everyone okay?" I got the thumbs up from one of them. I felt relieved and decided there wasn't much point in coming down right away so I kept shooting for about another half and hour or so.
However, while on the deck and about to take off the harness, I someone saying, "Yeah, you know the girl that got hit by the lens." I froze. I turned to him and said, "What are you talking about???" He proceeded to tell me the lens on the shoulder had indeed hit one of the crewmembers. I immediately asked to be taken to the infirmary so I could see her and after pleading for a bit I was allowed in.
I walked in expecting the worst but I found her on a chair with an ice pack on her shoulder. As she was sitting down, I got down on my knees so I could be eye-level with her and then apologized to her over and over to her. I kept telling her, “I’m so sorry, this is not supposed to happen. This never happens. In 20 years I’ve been a photographer nothing like this has ever happened to me.”
Thankfully, she was kind enough to accept my apology. She had suffered just minor bruising. The lens hit the meaty part of her shoulder and then kept tumbling onto the deck. The hood cracked in half and its parts couldn’t be found. The filter was shattered.
Interesting enough. I assumed the lens was useless after such fall but still I tried removing the shattered filter and examined it. I couldn't remove it myself, so I took it the next day to a repair shop and they managed to remove it. I put on a new filter bought a new hood and incredibly enough was able to use the lens for the rest of the assignment.
I will still send it to be "tightened" but the sturdiness of this lens is a credit to Nikon and my luck on not having maimed or kill this poor woman is a credit to my guardian angels.