Filed under: Trip to Egypt, Trips & Travels | Tags: Brad Feinknopf, Canon, Egypt, photography, SanDisk, Valley of the Kings
This story was shared with us by our photographer for our Egypt trip, Brad Feinknopf. We thought you might find it interesting too, so we’re sharing it here:
I am a commercial photographer located in Columbus, OH and I was recently hired by COSI, the local science center, which was in the process of creating an exhibit which will open the Summer of 2009 entitled Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets. Modern Science to travel to Egypt on a photographic expedition to create imagery for this exhibit. This exhibit will premier in Columbus, OH and then travel the United States. All the photography on this trip was shot with a Canon Mark II 1Ds on SanDisk Extreme III 4 GB cards.
Now to the story.
We were on Day 9 of this incredible expedition and we had been granted special access from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities to photograph three of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings. There are not many photographs of the tombs at the Valley of the Kings because photography is strictly forbidden and they rarely grant access. When we arrived at the Valley of the Kings, our Egyptologist knew the head guard, and he agreed to actually close each of the tombs we were to see for one hour apiece so we could photograph them. Keeping in mind that there are thousands of people who come to the Valley of the Kings every day, so to close the tombs for an hour was incredible and out of the ordinary.
The first tomb we visited was KV 9, the Tomb of Rameses VI. This tomb has been uncovered for a very long time – there’s even Greek and Roman graffiti on the walls in some places. It is filled with incredibly brilliant color decorations of religious iconography including the gods and goddesses. We were very excited about this – the photos were beautiful. At one point we asked if the color had been restored since it seemed impossible for it to have survived intact for so long, but our guide Ehab said this was all original and just very well preserved. At the end of the long ramp down, there was an enormous stone sarcophagus – truly worthy of a king.
The second tomb we saw was a surprise. We had intended to visit Rameses III next, but it was so swamped with people that we could barely move through it. The temperature inside was probably 95 degrees Fahrenheit (you’d think the tombs would be cooler inside, but with all the people going through and the lack of air circulation, it’s like a sauna). Ehab suggested that instead we visit KV14, the tomb of Tausert, the royal wife of Sety II who became regent of Siptah and eventually the last ruler of the 19th Dynasty.
The last tomb we saw was KV 34, the tomb of Thutmes III. Now the story gets interesting. After shooting for 3 hours on a SanDisk Extreme III 4 GB card, I did the final shot of the day. I was standing on a bridge which connected the shaft to the burial chamber over a 50-foot drop. I was bracketing my exposures to make certain I had the correct exposure and my Canon knocked out 2 of the 3 shot bracket, filling up the 4 GB card. My initial thought was that the 2 captures would be fine, so lets wrap up and go. I then thought to myself that I had traveled all the way to Egypt to do this photography, so why risk any chance of not getting the shot? I had extra cards, so let’s switch out the cards. I opened the back of the camera and pressed the eject button (maybe a bit too hard) and the card shot out and fell 50 feet into the dark precipice with all the images from my entire time at the Valley of the Kings stored on it! I was frantic. I informed the group, and we shined a light borrowed from the videographer on the expedition into the precipice and could see the card. We immediately informed the guard at the tomb and were told, “In Egypt, whatever the problem, we will find a solution!” About 15 dreadful minutes passed, and then several men came back with a long rope which one of them wrapped several times around his waist. The others stood as if playing tug-of-war and carefully lowered him to the bottom. I watched fearfully as he wandered around the bottom of the pit, stepping with inches of the card several times. Despite the language barrier, he found our lost card, and they pulled him back up. Their generosity was overwhelming and deeply appreciated.
I now had my card back but had no idea if the 50 foot drop to the rocks would have affected its contents. The next few hours were arduous as we left the Valley of the Kings with no idea whether we had anything to show for our efforts. We traveled back to our hotel where I raced to my laptop to download the images (if they were even there). I am sure that it didn’t take long although it seemed like an eternity while the images downloaded from the card and I opened them up. After several grueling hours, I discovered that the SanDisk had held up and the images were intact!
I am eternally indebted to SanDisk for a fine product. One of the most incredible days of my life would have been lost to eternity had it not been for some very kind Egyptian guards at the Valley of the Kings and one very durable Sandisk Extreme III 4 GB card!