Nature, Landscape, and Night Sky Photography by Zach Schierl

Obituary for a DSLR

My trusty Nikon D70 died today after nearly 35,000 shutter actuations, in a beautiful place no less; more than 10,000 feet above sea level along the West Fork of the Cimarron River, high in the ice-sculpted pinnacles of the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Given that it had pluckily survived numerous 5+ foot drops onto hard, rocky surfaces, many torrential downpours, hitchhiking across the sheep-filled land known as New Zealand, and being partially submerged in mineral-rich water as I uncontrollably floated down Havasu Creek, it seems odd that a light bump against a ratty-looking old lodgepole pine is what ultimately brought it to what in hindsight seems a rather ignominious end. Alas, this accidental tap caused the camera’s shutter to cease operating, casting the camera’s 6.3 megapixel CCD chip into a state of eternal darkness, never again to capture the majestic photons emitted by the incomparable scenery of this great Earth.

The final shot…

Not even the most exquisitely crafted prose can capture the stunning allure of the natural setting in which the D70 ultimately met its demise.  Its final hours were spent summiting the rocky, yet green and verdant slopes of 12,152 foot Courthouse Mountain, a impressive edifice that is but a mere foothill to the soaring 14,000 foot peaks of the San Juan’s above. Despite it’s striking appearance, more than 1200 other peaks in the state of Colorado exceed it in height, although after today’s passing, none will exceed it in sentimental significance. A more glorious and perfect day could nary have been found; the weather gods were beaming upon the landscape below, basking the D70 in warm, unintterupted sunlight as it ascended the mountain, strapped to the shoulders of its loving owner.

The south face of Courthouse Mountain, composed of layer upon layer of volcanic tuff and breccia.

Courthouse Mountain Trail

The last photo with a human being in it…

From the summit, the D70 faithfully recorded its final panorama; a wide swath that included the jagged crags of Dunsinane Mountain and Precipice Peak, the dark green lodgepole stands of the Uncompahgre Wilderness, and the distant summits of Uncompaghre Peak and Mt. Sneffels, gripping tightly to their last vestiges of winter snow. To the north, beyond the exquisitely layered deposits of Chimney Rock belaying its violent volcanic history, lay the verdant Uncompahgre Valley, home to the towns of Ridgway, Montrose, and Delta. Along the eastern base of the mountain lay the valley carved by the West Fork of the Cimarron River, on an arrow straight path north to eventually meet the mighty Gunnison River.

Panoramic View from Courthouse Mountain, looking east into West Fork Cimarron River valley. Chimney Rock and Silverjack Reservoir visible at left, Precipice Peak at right.

View from Courthouse Mountain looking south and west towards San Juan Mountains.

The perilous promontory of Precipice Peak

Until such time that a suitable replacement can be procured, the D70 will be replaced by a small, yet capable Canon point-and-shoot camera. In lieu of flowers, please send Amazon.com or B&H Photo gift cards.

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2 responses

  1. Adieu… over many shared adventures a camera becomes a worthy traveling companion greatly missed when it is gone. RIP

    June 19, 2012 at 12:51 am

  2. Tara

    Zach, So sorry for your very sudden and unexpected loss. I work in the greeting card industry, and am embarrassed to realize that there are no cards currently printed for loss of a camera. You can rest assured that I will get to the bottom of this, and whatever fool overlooked this very real kind of grief will pay dearly!
    Our condolences,
    Tara and Family

    June 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm

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