A Peculiar Sense of Warped Satisfaction

Randyʻs Camera reads "Folder Contains No Images".

I recall feeling a peculiar sense of warped satisfaction as I read a blog post by the esteemed photo industry leader Scott Kelby a few  years back. Mr. Kelby had proceeded confidently through an entire model shoot before he realized there was no digital media “card” in his camera. His camera settings were set to that despised default which nonsensically allows us to take photos without ever recording them! It was a total rookie mistake. While feeling a little sorry for Kelby (for about three seconds), I also had this little internal “fist-pump” moment. Yes! Even Scott Kelby goofs up! I felt oddly better about myself at his expense. Kind of sick, right?

Randyʻs Camera reads "Folder Contains No Images".

This was my favorite image from my all-Maui photo tour yesterday. I had 397 more images just like it!

Wouldnʻt  we all like to see Tiger Woods whiff the ball on the first tee? I would. Just once.

Yesterday I took a fine couple on a ten-hour private photo-adventure tour of Maui. We covered 150 miles by car, and another long distance by foot. Larry and Rita followed me excitedly as I brought them to a dozen of my favorite scenic locations on the island and demonstrated how I prefer to expertly photograph each special place. I was the brilliant leader and they were the adoring students gobbling up every bit of advice. I was the smug king-of-he-hill, oh yes I was.

I shot several candids of Larry and Rita, promising to email shots to their California home as a fine memory of our day together. I rushed home late and eagerly turned on my Mac, and opened Adobe Lightroom, and slammed my completely filled 8 gigabyte CF card with 398 raw photo files into the external card reader. Boom! I was ready to rock and roll with my quick editing skills.


Damaged CF Card

Ummm…. “FOLDER CONTAINS NO IMAGES”.  Okay, joke, a damaged cf card right? I put the card back into my camera to check the thumbnails again. “FOLDER CONTAINS NO IMAGES”. I swear they were just there minutes earlier. There must be some sort of mistake? I ran the file through my disc utility to verify and repair. Multiple errors! Ack! I could not repair!

Okay, I can get over the lost dayʻs batch of scenic photos….. But to call my clients and eat crow??? Oh, the pain, the humility, the torture! So embarrased!  My king-of-the-hill status was in ruins!

So are you guys feeling that little internal double-fist-pump now that I am a total goof? I think Larry and Rita are. ;-)


23 Comments on “A Peculiar Sense of Warped Satisfaction

  1. That sucks ! Reading through that paragraph. I knew what was coming. I feel your pain.

    Reminded me of the perfect shot I missed. I had my Mamiya RB67 set up on the Tripod.
    I could hear the freight train in the distance.
    Everything was set. I was 30 feet from the train tracks waiting for the barreling train to come by so I could fill the viewfinder with the rushing locomotive. Here it comes !!!
    It would be perfect !!! The front of the train at f/8 and 1/60th. A moving blur on Fuji Acros 100 film. Here it comes. Scene metered, waiting for the train in the viewfinder. Perfect ! Click, click click … WTF!! The train is gone. The shutter never clicked. In all the excitement I left the friggen dark slide in and the shutter was locked out. Crap !! Missed the shot. The guy next to me took 39 digital shots and likely got 3 good ones. Friggen defeated. That was a pissed off ride home. :)

    • Love this story, Greg. Weʻve all been there. I used an unusual 5×7 view camera to shoot a formal board of trustee portrait of 30 stiff men in dark suits. I loaded the film plate backwards. Thankfully I grabbed 3 emergency backup frames on a handheld 35mm and used those. No one noticed.

      Mahalo for the comment!

    • I have the card Eric, and there is some date on it. But is shows empty when I open the card. The 8 gig card still shows I have about 3.5 gigs of space. Odd.
      Will go online to look at recovery software.

      Talk soon!

  2. I had a similar thing happen to me but I caught it before it became a tragedy. My frugal from from California called me to let me know that Fry’s had 16 gig CF cards on sale cheap. He asked if I wanted any. I said heck yeah, get 2 for me. He sent them to me and on the second time out with them the camera started saying that there were errors and that images could not be saved to the card. I took one out and put the second one in and within minutes it too was showing the same message. I was glad that I had a handful of backup cards so I could finish the shoot.

    Yeah stuff happens but it good when it happens early enough to recover..


    • Hey Kirk,
      We all know by this ripe age in our lives that there is no free lunch, right? Cheap cards? Not cheap in the end.

      Come to Venice this summer!

  3. No fist pump here, Randy. I guess crimping once in a while might have saved you from the embarrassment and frustration, though I’m not sure if it would have helped. Hope you get that card restored.

  4. No fist pumping here either. I have learned after relocating from Maui to the mountains of Colorado that static electricity is a big deal here. It appears in many ways. Afternoon is not the time to be up on top of a 14,000 foot mountain with a tripod as lightning strikes are common. I have also discovered that if I remove my memory card from my camera upstairs and carry the card to my reader downstairs, just that little bit of static buildup from walking on the carpet can corrupt the RAW files on the card. Many shots were lost before I figured out that I should carry the camera downstairs and discharge any static before transfering the card from the camera to the reader.

  5. Hey Randy … that’s a major pain, yes? From what I know, Eric is right, you might be able to recover all (some?) of your images, possibly at some cost … Here’s another thought: different card reader, or buy different memory cards in the future? My card reader will pick stuff off a memory card that sometimes won’t even download from camera to computer. Don’t know why. I also switched to Hoodman RAW CF cards after having “fails” on Lexar and SanDisk cards. Hoodman claims they’ve never had a card fail, ever, and since I switched over, haven’t had a problem. Good luck … let’s go shooting!

  6. Wow. I was wondering how “end of life” failure would affect people. I bet that is what happened to you. Static is possible too, but the electronic guts used inside are designed to survive that so it seems less likely to me.

    Remember when memory sticks first came out? They had a very low number of write-cycles. Meaning, they would stop working in a week. I worked on a laboratory machine that “killed” its memory card every day!

    Makers have greatly improved how many write-cycles they can do. But there is still a limit. And I suppose if anybody is going to find it, it will be a photographer racking up hundreds of shots every few days!

    Worse, unless the control chip inside the memory device is very smart, when the failure hits, it could corrupt the file structure. Rendering some or all of your photos un-recoverable. You still have all the pixels, but no way to know what photo they are from, or even WHERE inside the image they are from. Worst jigsaw puzzle ever.

    You need to discuss with your chip vendor HOW you can determine when a card is nearing the end of its life, so you can check them before a shoot. Or just buy new cards every few months.

    • Richard, This was my favorite go-to card. I filled and formatted it maybe 2 times per week for the past year. It has likely been re-written 100 times. I guess I should a known, huh?

      On the other hand, the card reeder had two pins squeezed together. I am betting it got fried in the reader. It sounds like you know your stuff! Mahalo.

      • Randy, speaking from experience, if there are pins squeezed together, it’s time for a new reader. Also, check the card carefully to see if any pins broke off into the card. I have recovered data from cards with problems and if yours says there is data, you have a decent chance of recovering the files. See if you can download a trial version of the software or search for memory card recovery software.

        Then, throw that card in the trash. You can’t trust it anymore. I have heard of people getting counterfeit cards from Amazon, so I only trust B&H and Adorama. And, there are only 3 brands that back them up – Lexar, SanDisk and Hoodman.

        Your timing isn’t bad though. Look here: http://www.photographybay.com/2013/02/15/lexar-professional-cf-card-deals/

        Happy shooting,

        • Aloha again Mr. Linneman,
          I just placed my order for a Hoodman steel dual card reader and a new Lexar 16gb card. Iʻm back in the game!
          Be well, My Friend,

          • Randy,

            I have software that might recover the card. Let me know if you want me to try. Enjoy your new toys.


  7. Just one of those days…one of the most AWESOME I have ever experienced!!! Don’t worry, we have the photos of you hanging from the tree. Slight fist pump, yes, because I know you have the opportunity to go to any of those places whenever you like and it was nothing important, like the PGA. Now, if it was one of our cards, we’d have to make another trip to do it again. Hmmmm, do I feel a bit of sabotage coming on? Just kidding.

  8. That would break my heart, but better yours than the students! I still can’t bring myself to format my card from our workshop. I’m thinking about just framing it and getting a new one.

      • “Cool”????
        It’s genius! If you catch the game winning, home-run ball, you don’t throw it back!!
        I’d love to join the group in the Alps this year! That workshop looks AMAZING! I’ll be in touch.

  9. Sorry about your experience. I’m not pumping my fist in the air, but will tell you it’s nice to know that you are human too!!! Love the beautiful road to Hana and hope to return there soon.

  10. Aloha Randy,

    I just had two identical Sandisk micro SD cards fail in two new Samsung phones. Luckily not a CF card in my real camera. I was able to freeze the card in the freezer and then could read all the data on one card. I sent the other back for warranty replacement before figuring out deep freezing it worked! Leave it in the freezer a few hours or better yet overnight. Use it straight out of the freezer before it warms up.

    Do us a favor and breath some of that wonderful Maui air. We have wonderful memories from 2005 thanks to your family. We will be forever greatful. Did you say you liked Casapula’s or Capprriotti’s food? Maybe a care package overnighted to you??

    Kirk & Cheryl Reed. Newark, De

    • Casapulaʻs Delicatesin is the best sandwich I have ever had in my life. I remember they offer the meat wrapped separate as not to make the bread soggy. Maaaaannnn….
      Okay I will try the freezer. i still have the card sitting here. Meanwhile I ordered a new lexar card and Hoodman STEEL card reader which claims never to bent the pins.
      MAHALO KirK!
      Aloha, and visit us again soon!

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