“You need to watch your step, but everyone makes it across easily” my guide whispered to me in encouragement as I gazed a little perplexed at the hazel coloured water that stirred and crested in front of me. “Ok, it’s fine, I’ll do it”, I said.
Stripped down to my swimwear with action camera and selfie stick in hand, I felt vulnerable, exposed as I was to the Sumatran sun and the insects of forest around me. I told myself I was just getting ready for a wade to the far side of the river where there were hot springs to be enjoyed. I simply had to get across, it seemed straight forward enough.
The sharp, pebbles pinched my feet and challenged my balance as I hobbled to the water’s edge. “Everyone makes it across easily” I reminded myself as I held my breath and wades into the waist deep gush of water. Slowly I lurched ahead deeper and gradually lost view of what I was stepping on. They was always pain though, branches rocks and pebbles. The water got to my chest, the current stronger. “Good thing I can sling my camera to my shoulder with the strap from the monopole. Cool that my action camera has water proof casing as well” I thought.
I must have looked pathetic as I tried to thread my arm through the selfie stick strap. I could hardly stand on my own two feet let alone juggle camera equipment as well. Then the inevitable happened, I lost my footing and fell into the flow. The current swept me away like driftwood and rushed me downstream in it’s grasp. I had no choice, I had to swim if I wished to reach the safety of the bank and avoid knocks with rocks and branches on the riverbed. A few strokes and I was in shallower water once more, out of trouble but to my dismay my Sony action camera and monopole stick were gone, nowhere to be seen, lost in the silty water with two gigabyte of unsaved videos and pictures.
Losing camera equipment is always regrettable and costly, but losing hard earned pictures and video footage as well is gut wrenching to say the least.
But what to do? After all, adventure cameras are meant for use in pretty hostile environments where the risk of loss is always very real.
Here are some tips that should not be overlooked by the GoPro enthusiast. I certainly wish I had looked into this before that fateful afternoon in Sumatra described above. Maybe they are nothing new to the avid video maker but I hope a newbie will give my words some thought.
A) Take the time to write your contact details on a piece of paper and stick this appropriately to the camera body or at least include it in the water tight casing of your camera. ALSO save a “READ ME file” containing the contact details on the camera’s SD memory card. This way if your device is ever lost and found by someone conscientious, he/ she has the information needed to get in touch.
B) If using your camera next to water, use a floatation accessory. It can be self adapted piece of sponge cut out and added to your selfie stick, or a specially purchased piece of kit. There are several products available.
C) Hugely useful, but hard to come by are floating monopoles. Keep in mind though that a simple wooden stick is definitely a cheaper option and can work just as well.
D) Make sure the your camera stick have a robust tether. Reinforce the stock attachments with sturdy metal rings and good quality cord. Hold on tight!
So…..sunk to the bottom of the sea, dropped from paragliding heights, knocked from speeding motorbikes I know of several action cam disasters. Occasionally lost kit is found. All hope need not be lost…..at least for those who have taken some precautions.
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