Monday, 19 September 2011

I'm in the pit stop

The 1D Mk3 is in for repair.
In my last blog, I mentioned the severe auto focus issues I was having at the last gig.
It didn't get any better, despite trying all the usual stuff - cleaning contacts, swapping out batteries, resetting to factory presets, updating firmware etc. etc.

Canon's website pointed me towards AJ Johnstone in Glasgow, who are the authorised Canon Repair Centre. I got a few warnings about them, and a few alternatives.
It seems if you dig deep enough, you'll read good and bad reports about all of the repair centres, but in the end, I decided to stick with the 'official' repair centre.
I delivered it in person on Saturday morning, and sure enough, the guy behind me was back in with a lens they repaired and had got it back in a worse state than when it went in - totally unusable.
I hope I'm one of the lucky ones.

Ironically, despite waiting sometimes weeks in between email communication with New York, as soon as the camera failed, I got a flurry of emails from Retna Lts and I'm now fully on-board and ready to shoot.

One of my priorities will be funding a second hand body to ensure I don't find myself in this position again.
"Should have done that already" I hear you say - I'm a family man, with bills to pay and kids to raise and feeling the pinch like everyone else. The family comes first, every time.

I very much doubt I'll be buying another 1 series Canon though - one of the reasons I bought one was because I expected some durability and reliability out of a pro body, which, after 2 years has had comparitavely moderate use (I don't spray and pray) and is in immaculate condition.

The repair bill is going to cause some real pain, especially as we all start budgeting for Christmas, but I guess shit happens, and you always find a way through.

In the meantime, I'm going strir-crazy without the camera!

Oh, and to save anyone the trouble of commenting:

'Shoulda bought Nikon'

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Average White Band, camera trouble & drunken idiot trouble

Saturday 3rd September took me to Montrose Town Hall, less than 3 miles from home as opposed to the usual 5 hour round trip to Glasgow I have to endure for the sake of three songs.

The occasion was the fabulous Average White Band, brought to the town by the Montrose Music Festival Committee, for whom I shoot as part of the official photography team.

I've loved this band for a very long time. I was playing 'Pick Up The Pieces' in a band as far back as 1979 and know just about every song they have recorded - this is my type of music.

There are still two original members, Onnie McIntyre and Alan Gorrie, supplemented by Fred Vigdor on sax and keys, Rocky Bryant on drums and the multi-talented Klyde Jones on bass, guitar, keys and vocals.
Klyde has an amazing voice and sang lead on quite a few of the songs.

There is a special connection with Montrose for AWB - original tenor saxophonist Malcom 'Molly' Duncan was born and raised in the town.

They played a great show, and were as tight as a camels' ass in a sandstorm.
It was however a stressful shoot for me - the auto-focus decided to fail on my two year old Canon 1d Mk3.
It would initially come to focus, then back off, which also meant the shutter button wouldn't trigger.
I noticed it at the start of the first song of the support band, and as you do, went into panic mode.
I tried swopping lenses, turning off and taking the battery out and double checking all settings.

I had to manual focus throughout the night and got the job done, but did miss a few special moments.

On return home, I stayed up until 02:30am, trying to get to the bottom of the problem.
Google focusing problems on the 1d Mk3 and you will be faced with endless pages on the AF Servo focusing issues the product suffered with at launch, but nothing related to my specific problem (I bought mine when all the issues had been resolved)

I documented every one of the myriad of settings on the camera, then did a full reset back to factory settings.
I tried leaving the battery out for half an hour and still, the camera wouldn't focus correctly.
Miraculously, the problem suddenly disappeared. I tried it again this morning and it locks on every time.
I have no idea how the problem arose, and even less idea on how it went away, but I will be on edge for the next shoot - I'll definitely be taking a backup body.

As if that wasn't stress enough, I stayed to enjoy the show after the first three, stood right at the front.
This gig was supposed to be a bit of a disaster in terms of ticket sales, so much so, the festival committee had considered cancelling it altogether, but the cancellation fees would have been prohibitive.
I had been actively promoting the gig on Facebook, Twitter and any other means I could think of.

The room thankfully filled up nicely - I suspect many had been waiting for their salary at the end of the month before committing.

This caused another problem however, as unlike previous gigs with artists of this calibre, there was no security team in place, or crowd barrier. As we all know, some people just can't drink on an empty head and there was one over-merry chap who was making a nuisance of himself - to the band, and to fellow audience members. As I was wearing an official t-shirt (official photographer that is) I was approached a couple of times by guests alerting me to his behaviour. The band had also seen the guy apparently punch his girlfriend and they alerted their road manager who was in the wings.

I decided to go to the foyer and get the rest of the festival team, who apparently had just been dealing with a fight outside the venue, which left no-one up front expect me. I'm a lover, not a fighter, and the rest of the team were not trained or qualified to deal with serious security or crowd control issues.

We created a wall of bodies along the stage front, whilst trying to diffuse the situation around the drunken guy. The problem later moved to the foyer, as the band were doing a meet & greet/CD signing session, and this guy was intent on speaking to the band, so again, we had to create a wall of bodies.
One of the (very large) festival committee members eventually sweet talked him down and he went on his (slightly too) merry way.

I'm kind of wishing I had done the drive to Glasgow now (AWB were playing there the night before)
The drunken guy would have been picking his teeth up on the car park if he'd have tried this down there!
(I'm trying to resist a reference to 'Pick Up The Pieces' there)

All is well though, and I got some images I liked.
Next gig is Wilko Johnson - I'm definitely going to need auto-focus to keep up with him!