Ice forms over a light post on the boat dock in Yvoire

in February 2012, Europe was under a deep freeze. Subzero temperatures and a fierce northern wind locally called La Bise created an unforgettable ice storm. I live in Switzerland on the coast of Lake Geneva. Europe’s second largest lake. The winds create large swells that can be as high as two meters. For a lake that’s pretty damn impressive. Especially if you are either on a boat in the middle of the lake or on the shore in proximity to the waves and their spray. When the temperatures are below freezing the spray from the waves coat everything with a fine sheet of water which immediately freezes. Over several minutes, hours and days the ice accumulates to create incredible wind swept frozen formations.

Well equipped but still frozen fingers

I decided to go and see some of these ice storm formations and capture them with my trusty best friend Camy. Short for Camera. Camy did her job well snapping away at these incredible natural ice sculptures. But to get the best angle, I had to get as close as possible to the waves, as well as the spray. In the heat of the action, or in this case in the cold of the action, I got sprayed across the face on several occasions. I was not quick enough to protect poor Camy. She got covered in spray, which instantly turned to ice. That was OK, because no moisture penetrated my little Camy’s delicate Japanese made body, but covered its Cyclops eye with a thin and undulating film of ice. Made for some interesting shots, but forget about trying to focus. Poor Camy tried hard to auto-focus, and was confused with the material on its lens and the panorama beyond.

The spray from the waves froze intantly on my camera

Selfishly I continued my quest for the great shot, and replaced Camy, with it’s twin Camy 2, which had a bigger lens. Until it succumbed to the same fate. I would have forced Camy 1 and Camy 2 to continue working in these harsh conditions, but my fingers and feet were near frozen. I know my Camys have no soul or feelings, they are just little moment stealing machines. But one of my Camys was suffering. When I could no longer feel my fingers, I selfishly got back in my car and stuck my little Camys under the blasting ventilated heat. Probably not a good idea. But I was on a quest to get the great shot, so I wiped the little tears of melted ice off their bodies and Cyclop eyes so that they could get back to work as soon as I found another great shot. I wanted none of that girly sensitive crap and forced them to go back to work two more days under the same conditions. Camy 1 was giving me trouble with one of its functions under the menu button. But I must say that the little girl held strong until I was done with my hunting for the perfect photo treasure.

Curious onlookers on a boat dock in Geneva

A few days later Camy 1 refused to allow me the ability to function one of its buttons. “Come on little Camy, work for me!” I ordered the little photo robot. But it was no use. I took him to the merchant who sold me my little robot slave with its warranty. They sent Camy to the doctor. I was convinced she was in capable hands and she would come back to me as good as new. Today is the day. I got a call from the camera store to pick up Camy. I walk in the store happy and looking forward to bring Camy back home with his Daddy. As I ask for my Camy with a big broad smile on my face, I am met with an annoyed camera merchant who says,

Water sprays and instantly turns to ice crystals

“What did you do to that poor little thing?” What did I do? Well, on the TV screens in the camera shop are pictures of ice sculptures shot by some of the camera merchants.
I respond, “Nothing. I went and shot some of these frozen phenomenons like you have. But I must admit, me and my little Camy got a couple of waves sprayed across our faces.”
He replies, “Well, my friend, your Camy is not guaranteed against water damage. The camera doctors said your Camy can not be repaired. That will be 12o.- Swiss Francs please.”

I was somewhat devastated. My little Camy was now a cripple. Only some of its functions worked. The man at the counter could see my sadness and suggested I open its little body and try to massage some of its parts back to life with a tiny little fiberglass brush.

Many boat owners woke up to a very cold surprise

“You have nothing to lose.” He said. ” The doctors at the repair shop will not open your Camy for fear of responsibility if there was further damage. So I suggest you just open the body by loosening all of its screws and brush all of its tiny little connections with this brush. I have done it before and it has worked.”

Camy’s photo of her successful return to work

I did just that. And now Camy is back to its old self. I gave her a big kiss and let her capture this wonderful sunset. My sweet little Camy is back by my sides. There for me for that instant that I can capture and never forget and share with all of you. Take care of your Camys, so that it can take care of you and record those moments forever. I love my little Camys, it survived the 2012 ice storm.