A character takes a picture with a camera, and the photo develops, revealing that the picture taker had his/her finger(s) on the lens or left the lens cap on, obscuring the intended target of the photo. Bonus points if the camera in question is a SLR camera, because the viewfinder uses a mirror and prism to show the exact view through the lens,
requiring a truly monumental level of stupidity. Usually fully justified when the camera in question in a vintage viewfinder camera.
This can still occur in the age of digital cameras, if the person has only a limited opportunity to photo their intended target and can't afford the time to review their settings before taking the shot.
See also Body Wipe
. Not to be confused with the Camera Obscura
. Nor should it be confused with the Camera Obscura
, from which this trope derives its name.
- Ambush Bug did this in one of his 1980s miniseries.
- Crocodile Dundee:
Neville Bell: Oh no, you can't take my photograph.
Sue Charlton: Oh, I'm sorry, you believe it will take your spirit away.
Neville Bell: No, you got lens cap on it.
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: Polly Perkins spends much of the movie with only two frames left on her only roll of film, and wants to save them for a truly awesome photo. At one point she accidentally shoots the ground while running away, reducing it to one. In the film's denouement, she decides to take a photo of Joe Sullivan, only for Joe to look at her and say "Lenscap."
- Annoyingly, she could still have taken that picture. With the lens cap on, there would have been no light - meaning no exposure. Being that the while movie is 40's retro technology, that was probably a manual camera. If she didn't advance the film, she could have taken the cap off and shot that frame again.
- Spider-Man 2: Happens to Peter.
- In Discworld, Rincewind uses a camera flash to defeat an Eldritch Abomination and later finds out that he only has a photo of his thumb to show for it.
- In the original Cheaper by the Dozen book, the father of said dozen children wants the removal of his children's and his own tonsils filmed. Since he wants to direct the filming of his own tonsil removal, he stays conscious during the procedure, and suffers great pain because of this. The pain turned out to be all for naught when the cameraman revels he accidentally left the lens cap on.
- There was an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation where they started trying to identify the taker of a photograph by the print of the picture of his thumb he left over the lens (until they decided they could get more information by looking in the reflection of the subject's eyes. That episode was worrying on so many levels.)
- Mad TV: one part of an Average Asian skit ends with this.
- That famous picture of George W. Bush looking through the binoculars and they have caps on (which may or may not have been manipulated; undetermined according to Snopes).
- A similar picture exists with Bill Clinton, of course.
- The Sims 3 has this occur from low photography skill, making the photos near worthless.
- Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner: Coyote uses a gun disguised as a camera, only for it to literally backfire because he left the lens cap on.
- Happens on Dexter's Laboratory, when Deedee takes photos of his lab and plans to show it to their mom. Fortunately for him, his lab is barely seen due to Deedee's fingers being in the way.
- Jonny Quest episode "The Sea Haunt": Hadji tries to take a picture of the title monster but all there is on the photograph is a fingerprint.
- In The Flintstones, Fred and Barney capture the legendary whale Adobe Dick and Barney takes a photo of it before it escapes. Unfortunately, the picture was covered by Barney's thumb, which was a Running Gag earlier in the episode.
- The Invader Zim episode Megadoomer had this happen at the end, with the Humongous Mecha's Invisibility failed and Dib tried to take pictures of it.
- When SpongeBob SquarePants made a movie of Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, cameraman Patrick left the lenscap on so he wouldn't misplace it.