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When Things Don't Go Right

... maybe there's a lesson on the left.

Harbin, December 28th 2013

My taxi driver dropped me right in front of Zhaolin Park's gate. Unfortunately, it wasn't the entrance gate. Thus I had to walk half way round the park.

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A long queue mark the entrance gate. Except being impatient for the queue to move on, at that moment I was physically fine. A lady vendor offered hand gloves. I didn't understand her talking, but I sensed she was begging the crowd to buy her stuff. A guy standing in front of me made a bargain. "How could one intend to visit such a place without preparing hand gloves?" I thought to myself.

When finally I reached the ticket box, I began to feel 10% less okay. Then five steps from the entrance gate inside, the tip of my fingers had already lost their senses. I took off my backpack and prepared my camera on the ice covered ground. The most tedious part was setting up my tripod and then fixing the ball head. I wasn't at all familiar with how they worked, because I bought them just a few days before my departure to China. My old tripod didn't work with screw locks, but with hook locks. Besides, my old tripod was much simpler -- and cheaper.

Every time I set up the tripod on the ground, the joints would sink down. What a silly thing it would be shooting with a pistol grip type ball head on a tripod that's almost flat to the ground! What's wrong with this tripod?? I was furious. Furious with myself.

The afternoon before going to Zhaolin Park I actually had bought two three new pairs of hand gloves. Two pairs of them were thick ones with lining inside. However, I left them at the hotel, thinking that the one I wore that time was the thin but warm kind. It's terribly inconvenient to operate a camera with thick hand gloves, you know. It turned out that this pair of hand gloves did little to fight back the cold. It would have been easier to forgive myself, if I actually didn't have any other thicker hand gloves.

"If you had wanted to test these hand gloves, you could put the thick one in your backpack. Just one additional pair of hand gloves won't harm your back, would it?" I was angry with myself.

Why, oh why, should I be this passionate about photography? If only I were like the other visitors who could just walk around the park with their hands in their pockets and not bother about setting up a camera.

Now here I am with a tripod and pistol grip ball head that had cost me financially dearly, that I bought and carried all the way to China, purposely for capturing the ice wonders of Harbin. Nevertheless, they stand useless.

In my anger, I pulled off my hand gloves, and tried to screw the joints of my tripod once more. While doing so, a guy carrying an SLR camera stood next to me. In English it would be like this: "Hey, I would like to see your result using that kind of thing."

Heeeyaaaa!! Don't you say that to meeee..... At least not for now. What result do you want? I even cannot set up this tripoddd!! I wanted to cry those words loud to him.

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Finally... my struggle, my anger... paid off. Here, I go. 请你看!

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Let me try a close up.

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How about from the other side?

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Here's an ice slide.

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Auw. Romantic.

Suddenly.... my hands weren't feeling cold anymore. I could feel my fingers completely. When did the senses return? How??

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I traced back my memory, and realized it was when I screwed these locks with bare hands. Because I was angry, I pressed my fingers on the lock screws like pinching, and turned them roughly. Apparently, the grooves on the surface of the lock screw poked into my finger skin. Hence, frozen blood under the skin began to run again.

On each leg of my tripod there are 5 lock screws. On top there's another lock screw. Thus, in total there are 16 lock screws. 16 times of screw therapy proofed adequate to bring the nerves under my fingers back to life.

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I had walked into Zhaolin Park feeling angry. Now, I walk out, feeling contented. I have learned a lesson. The lesson of survival. Later in Russia, when it was double freezing, I knew what to do for my fingers. It doesn't necessarily have to be a tripod's screw lock. A bottle cap, anything similar, will do. The deeper the grooves, the better. Press your fingers hard on the cap and move them around like when you want to tighten it.

Posted by automidori 18:31 Archived in China Tagged art architecture ice building harbin zhaolin_park harbin_ice_lantern_show

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