Back Up Plan

Tara photographed by Rodney AlanTara.  iPhone 5s | VSCO

Let me set the scene here, so bare with me. Its Christmas Eve and I’m driving home from Mammoth. I spent the last 6 days snowboarding and it was time to head home to spend time with my family.

I’m homeward bound, leaving Mammoth a little after 3pm with an ETA of 9pm. I’m 2 hours into my drive and dusk is coming up. The sun is still out and the road is still visible. I turn on the head lights for safety so that oncoming drivers can see me on the 2 lane highway.  Thirty minutes later I noticed that dusk is turning to dark and realize that my headlights are not illuminating my way.

If you’ve never been to Mammoth Mountain it’s in the Sierra Nevadas and there is not much between Mammoth and Los Angeles.  Just a lot of desert and a few small towns.

Fortunately there was an exit with a gas station where I was able to pull over and figure out what was going on.  That is when I found out that both headlights burned out and only the fog lights were on.  I went inside the gas station to see if they had any headlight bulbs. Just my luck, they didn’t have any and the next town was 50 miles away.  By then I had an hour to get to the auto parts store before it closed.

Keep in mind its Christmas Eve and if I couldn’t make it to the next town I would have to stay a night and drive back on Christmas Day when daylight breaks. The only thing going for me is my fog lights were still functioning and occasionally a car would be on the highway that I could follow.  So after making that stressful drive to the next town I was able to buy new headlight bulbs and be on my way home to be with my family for the holidays.

After this experience it had me thinking of backup plans for my next trip.  I’ve should of known better and be better prepared because I make this drive so frequently.  This also got me thinking of backup plans with photography as well just in case of a mishap or equipment failure.  It also brought up some stories that I’ll share where having a backup plan saved the day.  Sort of.

Tara photographed by Rodney Alan 20130831-DSC08473-EditTara.  Sony NEX-7 | Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

So let me tell you a story of when I had a simple test. Well it was supposed to be a simple test.  Right before any shoot before I leave the house I go through a ritual.  More like an OCD kind of gear check.  Checking, testing and making sure things work like it should.

I had an agency test with a model, Tara, down in San Diego.  It was about an hour away so I made sure my gear was good to go.  Went through my usual gear check.  When I got to the location Tara was showing me around and the first thing that crossed my mind is the light was just beautiful!

Tara photographed by Rodney Alan 20130831-DSC08622-EditTara.  Sony NEX-7 | Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

So while Tara gets ready I open up my Think Tank roller to find out that I forgot my camera.  It’s not like I forgot one of my prime lenses that I could figure out a work around.  I forgot my fucking camera!!  Turns out that after going through my gear check and testing I forgot to put the camera body back into the roller bag.

I look in my other Think Tank bag thinking that it might be in there.  Well turns out that it’s not, but my backup camera is.  I always bring a backup camera whether it’s digital or film with me just in case of equipment failure or in this story I forget my primary camera body.  That day I brought the Sony NEX-7.  Even having an iPhone is a good backup.  And to be honest I used my iPhone for a couple of shots too!

Tara photographed by Rodney Alan 20130831-DSC08882-Edit                                     Tara.  Sony NEX-7 | Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

Sounds like the day is saved.  I have my NEX-7 and an iPhone, but there’s a twist.  I turn on the camera for a quick check to find out that the battery has a 40% charge.  So the day is sort of saved, but only for a short period.

So lesson learned. Gotta have a back up and make sure that the backup is ready to go.  If you have any stories like this I’d love to hear about them in the comment section 🙂

-Rodney Alan

 Tara photographed by Rodney Alan 20130831-DSC08542-EditTara.  Sony NEX-7 | Zeiss 24mm f/1.8

2 thoughts on “Back Up Plan

  1. That’s a hard lesson to learn. I did the same once, I left my 5D MkII at home, but I did have my old 5D (original) with me. Saved the day, but I’m super careful now. I charge all batteries for all cameras the day before a shoot & make sure all cameras are packed.

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