How changing film cost a photographer...
How changing film cost a photographer...
Perhaps it's more about being ready than anything?
Well certainly it is. I just thought the "fiddly Leica" line in the article was funny. For being so expensive you'd think it'd be as smooth as a Cadillac. Although I can't really say that they AREN'T smooth, I've never used one.
I just thought that the article was interesting because a matter of a few seconds changed the careers of two people.
It's an interesting fact, how the readiness of two different photographers gave one the opportunity of a lifetime, and the other one the same opportunity, but was unable to capitalize on it.
The Leica cameras are not the easiest in the world to load. There is an insert that constitutes the take-up spool, and you take it out of the camera, like the picture shows, slide the film leader into a groove that catches it, and then put the film roll and the insert back into the camera simultaneously.
I have to say that in the beginning I thought it was a bit of a PITA to load it, but now I can do it faster than with my Pentax SLRs. The choice of words is interesting. Fiddly is perhaps not the best choice here, but it requires good physical mechanics of the user, a bit of practice, and sometimes a bit of patience. Perhaps 'involving' is better. My belief is that the Leica film winding mechanism is very good just from a performance standpoint. Frame spacing is always exactly the same, and it is very smooth indeed. But I could definitely see how someone in a stressful situation (like the one the photo journalist was in) could completely screw you up with loading just about any camera, maybe the Leica being particularly difficult due to needing a bit of precision and two steps more than a regular camera.
I've often wondered about how PJs from the 50s and 60s who shot Rolleiflexes were able to manage that - the film transport mechanism in the Rolleiflex is just brilliant with perfectly spaced frames every time, but that damned door and the knobs to lock/unlock the loaded film and take-up spools are a royal pain and there's no way to do it quickly that I have figured out yet. The Leica mechanism in the LTM cameras looks like it could frustrate the casual, but is more sensible than the Rollei! At least Leica went to a permanently installed take-up spork (well, that's kinda what it looks like anyway - a three-fingered spork) in the M series.
Where was his second camera, if he didn't have one then who goes to an assignment without backups? Changing a lens on a Leica takes a lot less time than changing the film. Pretty apparent lesson on display here: be ready always.
I've always wondered if that "quick-load" spool that came out later is worth finding. Anyone use one?
How (Insert Choice From List Below) Cost One Photographer a Chance at an Iconic Vietnam War Photo
- Forgetting to take off the lens cap.
- Forgetting to cock the shutter.
- A dirty lens.
- Dropping your camera in the mud.
- Dead batteries.
- Having to wait while your batteries recharge.
- Forgetting to bring spare batteries.
- Changing your memory card.
- Forgetting to bring a spare memory card.
- A corrupted memory card.
- Forgetting to bring more film.
- A broken lens.
- A broken camera.
- Not knowing how to work your camera.
- Forgetting to bring a spare camera.
Somehow, there is an assumption that the human could not be at fault. If only the equipment had not failed in some way, this photographer would have been just as famous as the other guy. Right?
We see no evidence whether this guy is a good photographer or not. Why do we assume that he was a good photographer and that he was prevented by his equipment.
Wait a second? Wouldn't a good photographer have planned for contingencies? Wouldn't he have brought back-ups? So, then, he wasn't a good photographer?
How about luck? That has nothing to do with it?
This all begs the question of whether having a good editor, news agency, magazine, publisher or agent behind you had anything to do with it. If both photographers took identical photos but one of them was shooting for Newsweek or Time Magazine but the other one was shooting for the East Bumfuk Daily Register wouldn't one of those guys have a better chance to become famous?
David Burnett is a pro who has made a solid reputation over a long career. Interesting that he would confess this lapse. He wasn't ready and I think that is the point he is making, he took it as a lesson learned and got better as a result. The article seems to have an odd pro-digi bias, as if changing a memory card, no matter how "blazingly fast" wouldn't also cause one to miss a shot. Silly.