Friday 18 March 2011

Friday Flash - No Flash

Bridget Ledersmark made her way through the group from the coach trip. The tourists clustered in the entrance to the exhibition. They clutched pamphlets detailing the history of the ancient Egyptian treasures on display. The attendant nodded to her - she'd already run through the rules with the group. No eating or drinking, no running, no re-entry, no touching the exhibits, and no flash photography. Bridget grimaced.

I'd be amazed if any of this lot knew how to take photos without the flash on those fancy cameras of theirs, she thought. They spend all that money and leave them on automatic.

The tourists jostled one another into the exhibition. Bridget followed, smiling at their enthusiasm for fragments of dirty wood or tattered scraps of yellowed papyrus. An elderly woman engaged her in conversation about the faded sarcophagus in room 3. Bridget was amazed to discover Mrs Brown was a former academic, specialising in the Book of the Dead. They stood discussing the nobleman quietly decomposing in the display case.

The other tourists reached room 6. Various trinkets and broken pieces of pottery sat in the cases around the room, accompanied by photographs of the archaeologist that discovered them. A single display case occupied the end of the room. In it, the blackened remains of a priest leaned against an iron bar holding him upright. Fragments of cloth clung to the dark skin, and empty sockets stared out at the gawping tourists. A single crack ran the length of the case from the floor to the top.

"Mummy! Daddy! Look, a mummy!" exclaimed a blond child.

He tugged on his father's sleeve, pointing at the mummy. His mother knelt on the floor beside him, reading out the description from the information board. According to the museum's curators, the priest's remains were discovered in 1937, and he had toured museums ever since. The blond boy stared up at the dead priest in amazement.

A brand new Canon 550D hung around his father's neck. He flicked the camera on, ignoring the settings for aperture, white balance and ISO. Leslie Kinnock didn't even know what ISO meant, but he knew the 550D was an 18 mega-pixel beauty with several automatic shooting modes. A blue-haired girl stood near the case, snapping the mummy with an old manual camera. Leslie found its click and the whirr irritating. He smirked to think her film would be ruined.

Why, she's not even using a flash! he thought.

The blue-haired girl noticed him waiting and stepped aside to allow him to take his shot. He popped up the on-board flash. The girl opened her mouth to speak as he pressed the shutter button. The flash lit up the glass, the reflected white light filling his viewfinder.

"No!" shouted Bridget, entering room 6 with Mrs Brown.

Leslie turned to look at her. Bridget wore an expression halfway between fury and fear. The sound of breaking glass caught his attention before he could review his image. Twenty pairs of eyes swivelled towards him. A dried hand snaked out of a jagged hole in the case behind him. The blond boy screamed as blackened fingers fastened around the 550D. The mummy jerked its arm and Leslie lurched forwards, crashing into the case. The glass exploded. Leslie fell to the floor, his camera still gripped by the dead priest.

The tourists stared, frozen to the spot. The mummy heaved on the camera. The strap snapped, flapping across Leslie's chest. The mummy closed its fist, crushing in the camera into shards of plastic and glass. It opened its fist, dumping the remains of the 550D onto the floor. It bent towards Leslie and, after drawing fresh air across 4000 year old vocal chords, rasped in his ear.

"No flash photography!"

Bridget and Mrs Brown picked their way through the room. Mrs Brown helped the mummy back into his shattered case, while Bridget helped Leslie to his feet. She glared at the dead priest. He would end up costing them a fortune in insurance claims.

* * *

This flash was inspired by all of those people who insist on taking expensive cameras to museums, and then using the flash to photograph things in glass cases. I consider these people to be complete tools. So yes, that IS my photo accompanying the story and no, I didn't use the flash. A longer shutter speed and a wider aperture will do the hard work for you.


Diandra said...

Great piece! That's exactly what the BF is making fun of all the time... especially when, in our town, people leave the flash on to take pictures of the other side of the river (distance approx. 300m).

Paul D Brazill said...

Ah, using fiction to extract personal revenge. I like that! Smashing story.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Exciting, detailed, AND educational. Loved this. I love the Egyptian cultural history anyway and I'm a sucker for mummies. You're lucky. You figured out a way to get one to work for you. [wink]

Steven Chapman said...

A great story, Icy! I might have to send this one to my Dad, he's a photographer so he'll appreciate the annoyance of tools using the wrong settings.

~Tim said...

If more museums had exhibits that fight back against these fools we might eventually weed them all out.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that was just priceless! I hope I have more sense than that, but just in case I'm inclined to forget ... I'll keep this story in mind. Nice work, Icy!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you Icy, those people irritate me to no end too! Great story, both creepy and hilarious at the same time.

John Wiswell said...

I've always said that if you find yourself in a fiction with ancient things around you, mind your manners. It's just common sense.

Tony Noland said...

Ha ha! I loved this, the mummy, of course, but especially the expensive cameras in the hand of people who don't know how to use them!

Harry said...

I shake my head when I see camera equipment that was once treated as precious heaped up on flea market tables like so much junk. I got the impression you might have worked at a museum at one time or another. Your flash about the flash is noted and your pictures are excellent!

Eric J. Krause said...

Good one! At least the ol' mummy took the rule seriously.

Anonymous said...

Of course we saw it coming, and of course I couldn't help seeing the Crypt Keeper in the role of the priest in this. ROFL

Marisa Birns said...

How very clever of you to take the annoyance of people and their cameras and convert it to such a wonderful piece of "flash" (Ha!) fiction.

Great photo, too.

Anonymous said...

"Leslie" huh... Well, I don't use a flash. I prefer to light a big bonfire then take the shot before the fire department shows up. A big jug of kerosene is always part of my photography kit. Great story. And yeah, people using flashes in museums is really irritating. Though to see a mummy come to life and crush a Canon might be worth it once or twice.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Such a great laugh. Wonder if the flash hurts the mummy's eyes.

Mari said...

Haha! I knew you'd been inspired by actual events to write this one. Excellent! I can imagine your face picturing a mummy crushing these fool's cameras at the museum. :P

Great flash and awesome picture with no flash! I wish I could do this too. O.o

Icy Sedgwick said...

Diandra - Stuff like that drives me crazy!

Paul - I just couldn't help myself - and lovely pun!

Carrie - I wanted to do mummies for aaaaages and it's only been recently I worked out how. Plus it's wish fulfilment!

Steven - It drives me BONKERS when people with fancy cameras insist on doing this.

Tim - Maybe I shall put money into researching such exhibits when I'm a supervillain.

Janet - *bows*

Deanna - I'm amazed how many people agree with the mummy!

John - Exactly. Sadly common sense ain't all that common.

Tony - It seems to have struck a chord!!

Harry - I've never worked at a museum but I'm an amateur photographer - I took that photo up top there with a 29-year-old Pentax ME Super!

Eric - He's had a long time to learn the rules. *nods*

negativevacuum - Yes! That would work!

Marisa - I wondered if anyone would spot the title!

Leslie - I see it SO often and it just drives me insane.

Raven - Good point! It must get irritating at least.

Mari - I've spent a long time learning how to use my camera on manual so I don't need to use a flash. Much prefer available light - you don't get such a harsh, flat effect. #camerageek

Larry Kollar said...

This is the best one of the #FridayFlash bunch so far! I loved the line They spend all that money and leave them on automatic. — ain't it the truth?

And the idea of the exhibits enforcing the rules… fantastic!

Larry Kollar said...

Oh, I forgot to mention. I have a 40D, and I almost always leave it on full manual. The 50mm f1.8 lens does a wonderful job with indoor no-flash shots.

Anonymous said...

Had a great laugh when the mummy declared "No flash photography." Like Carrie said, "Exciting, detailed, AND educational." Would have loved to seen it in Australia, but it's only going to Melbourne, which is a long way from where I live.
Adam B @revhappiness

Jason Coggins said...

I know nothing about cameras but respect signs in hallowed places. I'm surprised the mummy had nothing to say about the Victorian imperialists who up earthed him and transported 100 miles away from his home.

Anonymous said...

Ah good, so I'm not the only one who gets annoyed by this too. Its not like the pictures turn out anyway with a flash lighting up the glass. I love how the artifacts take their revenge-its reverence they deserve not blinding light. Fun read!

Steve Green said...

Absolutely love it Icy, of all the endings I thought there may be, I certainly didn't expect this one.

Chuck Allen said...

Ha ha! Great photo and a great story! I would imagine no one else in that group will dare set off a flash for the rest of the trip. :)

pegjet said...

Fresh air across 4000 year old vocal chords was priceless. But a mummy comes to life and all he does is crush an expensive camera?! Too funny.

AidanF said...

Great piece. You do a good job of capturing both Bridget's & Leslie's PoV's. Leslie's desserts were well deserved.

Icy Sedgwick said...

FAR - I have the 50mm f/1.8 for my 400D and I love it!

Adam - Yeah, I'm pretty lucky getting to see stuff like that.

Jason - I think he likes having the opportunity to travel.

Lara - Glad you liked it!

Steve - I was going to go gory but figured I'd go silly instead.

Chuck - Hopefully they'll learn!

Pegjet - I think he's just a stickler for rules. Lord knows what he'd do if someone was eating in front of him.

Aidan - Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

I like the way you have combined the irritation felt by the presence of tour groups and that of idiots and their too-complicated technology.
Good museum atmosphere too. I think it would pack a bigger punch without the last line and leaving it with the mummy's "No flash photograpy". Just an idea.

Anonymous said...

I loved this story, but I loved your inspiration for it even more! Rock on, Icy.

Unknown said...

Well done once again Icy. This one really made me laugh.

Sam said...

Brilliant, just brilliant! I loved how we could all see it coming but Leslie couldn't. And the line about the priest costing the museum thousands in insurance claims was pure genius.

Heath Lowrance said...

Ha! That was just fun, nice job.

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