All Photographs + Text Copyright 2013 Christopher Keeley

Chris fell in after stepping on that board sticking out

The Leica Mishap

I got an extra day off because of President ReaganŐs funeral, so I made the best of it by going up to the Catskill Mountains to relax. However, wherever I am, I have to be very productive by keeping busy. One of the ways of fulfilling my obsessive-compulsive disorder is by photographing things that catch my eye.

I am very fortunate to have available my familyŐs place called Rio Alto in the Catskill Mountains to visit when other family members choose not to take advantage of such a refreshingly beautiful place to relax in. I made the decision to drive to the end of the road that goes up along the East Branch of the Neversink River to the Dead End, which ends up at the Tison Trust estate at the foot of Slide Mountain. I was only going to take a few photographs before venturing out to some unknown town on a road I may never have traveled on before.

The light was terrible, meaning the sun was in the wrong place, but any photographer could succeed in taking a good shot because the Tison Trust has a little Japanese garden that mimics the mountains and valleys of the surrounding Catskill Mountains. Wildcat Mountain is the only other mountain that comes to my mind. I had shot almost a whole card of film and decided to take a shot of the dam, otherwise known as a pool digger. Now we have the exact same kind of dam at our house and it had had to be repaired after fifty years. Once my foot fell through our dam as I was trout fishing so I knew that the Tison dam was possibly very weak as it was also 50 or more years old. I was also aware that the wood was most likely rotten and could break easily.

I was being careful, but not careful enough, because as I stepped out to test the strength of the wood, the whole edge of the dam I was standing on broke and I lost my balance, tumbling into the icy cold water of the Neversink with my Leica camera in hand. Even though I held my hand high so as to prevent the camera from going under, I was unable to protect it from going under too. The pool was deep, way deep over my head. I quickly got out and wiped the camera off. But I enjoyed the water so much that I almost forgot about the consequences of my accident. This was a reawakening, for I hadnŐt been swimming in the stream in years, out of fear of the cold. I had completely forgotten the immense pleasure from the complete refreshing shock of swimming in pure spring water from the mountain top. My panic over the destruction of my camera put me in denial of the inevitable. The reality was that I was no longer going to be taking photographs for some time, to the tune of two grand.

To my dissatisfaction the camera was reading system error. I replaced the battery and card. I put the camera in the oven. The camera works for about three seconds and then it is as if there is Vaseline on the lens. ItŐs all murky and cloudy on the viewfinder. The camera is toast. I realize my Revo sunglasses are also in the pool, so I go back and fetch them. I find them right away. In the meantime I am calculating my losses: $1,800 for a new Leica.

I am going to Greece in August and I need a camera. My mind is going crazy. ItŐs Friday 6:00 p.m. I call Calumet, where I bought the camera, to get LeicaŐs number. I have no Internet connection. I need to be fixed. I need to solve my camera problem right away. I contemplate cutting my trip short and heading back to DC. Leica only has voicemail. I want to buy a new camera, can I get this one fixed? Did I fill out the warranty? The repair shop is in New Jersey. I would drive there, but theyŐre closed. These things always happen on a Sunday or at a time when they cannot give immediate answers to my problems. I need results and solutions right away. I am so impulsive. Compulsive. I have no patience.

Why canŐt I just relax and enjoy the serenity of the mountains? The camera is an extension of my mind, my obsession, my happiness, and my sense of accomplishment. Will Leica be able to fix the camera right away? I have to wait until Monday to mail in the camera to be repaired. Do I tell Leica that the camera took a plunge? My dishonest mind is telling me to put on the repair letter that maybe there is some moisture in the camera, that the camera has a manufacturer malfunction. I kept seeing butterflies and realizing that itŐs a sign from God that I should be grateful for being alive, that I have such an amazingly beautiful place to relax in. Then I wanted to photograph the butterflies. Then I thought maybe I should get a butterfly net to catch them. A new hobby, and a new obsession to fix my addiction. I felt bad about killing them for my pleasure fix of photographing their beauty. On a walk this afternoon I did manage to capture one. I was torn between keeping him and letting the enchanting creature go. But then I said to myself I am not a Buddhist respecting all life and reincarnation, but I love the idea. I constantly donŐt crush ants and free many an animal when given the opportunity. It gives one a great feeling inside when freeing a trapped animal caught in the premises of some human technological invention such as my car or kitchen. I had no camera to photograph the butterfly. Then I thought maybe I could scan the beautiful creature with my scanner and make an image with my computer.

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  • journal september 1995

  • Catskill Mountains Photographs - Trees - Spiritual gathering place cultivating a heightened awareness of the connectedness of, and spiritual essence in, all things. A Journey outside ordinary time and space into a parallel reality.


  • Social Documentary Digital Photographs Indigenous Encounter Divine Moment, Light and Sympony 2007

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  • Martin luther King Jr. Holiday Photographs Washington DC


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