Think of this as a public service announcement. Today, I’m going to discuss how to avoid smashing your equipment, day or night. I’m not a great example of this, so this is one of those cases where you should do as I say, not as I do!

Tripping the light fantastic

I walk around in the dark a lot. And I do so in abandoned areas and out on uneven ground in nature.

The chances of tripping, knocking over something or getting snagged by something grows exponentially. Perhaps even more so if you get excited and don’t pay as much attention as you should. Like me.

Have a nice trip, see you next fall!

As I was walking around, I stepped over a beam on the ground. It was an 80-foot beam. It had nothing protruding throughout its entire expanse … except one. And I found it.

I tripped over the 9-inch metal part. But it got better. I caught myself, only to find that my shoelace had caught around it. I went down like a felled tree, smashing my left knee and the camera. And my flashlight, too. BOOM!

Right after creating this photo, I walked around back. And that’s when I got close and intimate with the dirt in a hurry. Photographed with a Nikon D750 and a Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 fisheye lens, this was a stacked photo that lasted 24 total minutes. Each frame was three minutes in length. The interior and exterior is illuminated with the ProtoMachines LED2 handheld light painting device.

How to avoid the pain of the fall

Now, I’m going to tell you several things that I often do that I did not do here.

Cover up

Your lenses come with lens caps. Use them! Especially if your lens has a bulbous front element that sticks out, like my Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 fisheye (B&H | Amazon) does. When you move around, put the lens cap back on!

Somehow, miraculously, I didn’t scratch the lens at all. I did spend over 20 minutes carefully brushing the dirt out from the lens, camera and everywhere else, though. But I could have scratched the lens very easily.

Don’t be like me.

Knee pads

When you are wandering around dark areas with lots of debris, it’s a good idea to wear knee pads. Not only would these have protected me from bruising my knee, but they would have enabled me to get some support and kneel much easier.

I have a pair of kneepads. They’re quite good. They’re quite comfortable. But they’re quite useless if I don’t wear them.

Don’t be like me.


I was wearing big boots. That’s good for abandoned areas.

What’s not so great is having the big giant loops of the laces sticking out. Tuck those things in! I often do. Just not this particular evening.

Don’t be like me.