It was freezing. The sun was still below the horizon. I can’t operate my camera with gloves so my hands were exposed and after about 15 minutes of some exploratory shots, starting to feel numb. Then the sun peeked through. Light changes quickly at this time. Very, very quickly. I saw a beautiful, subtle glow in the distance; this would be my shot — the main event. I’d be leaving the area in a couple of hours and didn’t know when I’ll be able to return. In other words, I had one chance to get it right. But I couldn’t do it with the lens I was working with. I needed a longer focal length.
Lens change time.
I walked up to my car and prepared for the carefully choreographed procedure that I’ve executed countless times before. Remove rear lens cover from the lens that will go on. Unscrew the lens that’s on and quickly remove and set aside, attaching the fresh lens so that camera’s sensor is not exposed to the elements for more than a couple of seconds.
Must. Keep. Sensor. Clean.
Except that my hands were shaking and I briefly struggled to attach the longer lens. In that instant, there was a gust of wind which blew my chaddar - extra insulation - that’d been dragging in the dirt, up, flinging all kinds of debris straight into the air and … you guessed it … right on to the exposed sensor.