All Fogged Up

Posted by Jaime Dormer on

CHINA (JUL 2007)

Myself & my wife travelled across China in a clockwise direction, starting from Guilin in central southern China, moving east to Shanghai, north to Beijing, then south-west to Xian & Chengdu, then east again to Chongqing, where I had made arrangements for us to go on a boat cruise down the mighty Yangtze river from Chongqing to the Three Georges Dam, Yichang over several days.

We had a great time cruising the river, and each day the boat would stop at various places where you could get off and go and see the local culture and historic sites which were amazing, China is so rich in ancient history.

Anyway one of the photography highlights on the cruise is seeing the sunrise at a point on the river where the walls of the mountains are very close together, known as the “Three Gorges”, which is where the dam derives it’s name from I am told, and on a clear day (normally in winter) the sunrise view is apparently fantastic, however not overly fantastic on the day we were there. So in anticipation of the upcoming sunrise, the morning before I planned to get up very early, before dawn to get myself organized and find the best vantage point on the boat, take note of where & when other people/photographers would most likely turn up and want to stand to watch the sunrise.

The next morning, I woke early as planned, got up, got my camera gear all ready, and headed of up to the top viewing deck of the boat, a position that I thought would be the best vantage point for a sunrise photo, the slowly but surely we saw the pre-dawn light happening, and progressively getting lighter & lighter, by this time several other people had arrived and a few other photographers to see the sunrise, and it was at this point I decided it was time to start capturing the sunrise, so I had set up my camera ready to go, I bent down slightly to look through the view finder to take my first shot and to my amazement & shock I could not see anything, just fog, my camera was “ALL FOGGED UP”, I could not understand it, it was fine 15 minutes ago, I cleaned the viewfinder, the front lens element, I took the lens off and cleaned the rear element, nothing, still fogged up, I remember thinking that I must have allowed water to somehow get into the lens and it was ruined, my $1,800 lens was useless, what am I going to do?

It was at this time I noticed several others cleaning their lens and checking their cameras, it then dawned on me that I had taken my camera gear from the air conditioned cabin out into the hot humid summer air of China, this caused the lens to fog-up and of course once the temperature of the camera equipment had equalized with the outside temperature, all was fine, however I had missed the sunrise, but had learn’t the lesson.

With the above experience in mind, I took precautions the following night, I wrapped my camera and lens up in a blanket with several coatings, I then placed it inside of a carry case, with the plan that I would get up in the middle of the night and turn off the air conditioning, I did this the following night, and when I woke before dawn, I got my gear and headed up to the top deck to photograph the entrance to the gorges, as I waited for the sunrise, I could see lots of other people coming up to see the event as well, I had the best position, and I was prepared for it.

As the predawn light started to appear, more & more people turned up, to the point where I thought that half the boat was up there, it didn’t worry me however because I had secured a position where no-one could get in my road, and I had a clear shot of the pending vista, anyway as the morning light brightened and the sun rose I was happily taking photographs, no fog, because I had done my homework, however I cannot say the same for the others, everyone else had the same problem that I had had the day before, their cameras were all fogged up, and thus no photos, and of course were very disappointed, so remember this lesson, it will save you a lot of heartache.

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