The best camera is.....

A couple of weeks back I took a few days off, so I went over to Germany for a long weekend. Very fortunately it happened to fall on the World Cup Final. But this story is camera related and starts with the flight...

It was Thursday evening and as expected the flight was nearly full. We had a 20 minute delay before take off as requested by our destination, Frankfurt airport. This was due to a large storm covering the southern half of Germany. As we approached Frankfurt we were held near by and had to circle for a little before being informed that the airport was closed due to the adverse weather. The strength of the thunder and lightning storm had not decreased. We were redirected to Köln airport. A distance of some 190 km (118 miles).

As the plane banked left, to head North towards our new destination we could see the cloud formation of this inconvenient storm. It head to be one of the biggest mass of cloud formations I had ever seen. (Not that I may have seen large storms compared to other locations in the world.)

Bare with me, there is a photography point to this story.

After landing and waiting in Köln we were told that there would be buses to take us back to Frankfurt. A lovely 2.5 to 3 hours journey!

Now the long and short of it I decided to avoid the bus trip and choose to jump on the train from the airport into Köln train station (Hauptbahnhof). This would allow me to get a train direct to Mainz, my final destination for this journey. Just before leaving the airport the storm was moving up and starting to hit Köln. I counted 7 lightning strikes in one minute. I had to cancel a phone call because I couldn't hear anything due to the noise of the rain and thunder.

As I arrived in the main train station the information signs showed that nearly all trains in and out of the station were delayed. My particular train was running 70 minutes behind schedule. I wasn't too fussed over this extended time frame to my trip. It would still be more comfortable than stilling on a full bus. (After the fact I learned that the bus was stuck in many traffic jams due to the weather, and took longer than the train journey.)

This, eventually, leads me to the point I have to make.

I was standing at the end of the train platform looking out over the city skyline. A group of workers were laying new tracks just across from me. They were washed in the soft orange lighting from the platforms and occasionally illuminated by the sparks off of the welder and rotary saw. As well as their florescent safety jackets momentarily flashing with the reflection of the lightning strikes still lighting the sky above us. The whole scene, in this old wrought iron structured train station, was a dream location for photographing.

Now I was on holiday for the weekend, I had recently done quite a lot of photo shoots, including two 4am starts. So I had planned not to do any photography for the weekend. So I didn't bring any of my cameras with me.

A renowned American commercial photographer, Chase Jarvis, has previous said that "the best camera is the one you have with you". I had my iPhone on me. So I tried. It turned out that the low light atmosphere was too dark for the camera to pick up the details before me, and the shutter was too unreliable to shoot the lightning. All I got was extremely dark and grainy shots with a slight illumination of the clouds in the sky. I think even a simple low end point and shoot would have done a better job.

In general I would agree with Mr Jarvis, but in this scenario it didn't work out for me.

Ailbe CollinsComment