Now that summer is in full swing, it’s prime time for shooting those memorable summer vacation moments. From that beautiful sunset shot at the beach to the killer fireworks shot from the Fourth of July, the cameras are out in full force.
Despite the beautiful summer day outside, there are threats to your gear that you have to be aware of that can ruin a perfect day of shooting. Hazards from sand at the beach, sea spray, rain, high humidity or just the fact that it’s hot outside plays a role in your photographic plans.
If you happen to be shooting at the beach, you are bound to get some sea spray if you are close enough to the shoreline. This isn’t usually such a big deal, but many photographers will take a damp towel (NOT dripping wet) and quickly wipe the sea spray off. If you see white spots remaining, give it another once over.
While out shooting, there is a good chance that you will get caught in the rain at some point. With Canon’s EOS 7D series and up, you SHOULD be ok in a light rain for a short period of time. And once inside, fully dry off the exposed body and lens. For those times when our cameras are caught in a torrential downpour, Canon makes an excellent rain cover for when you need to get those shots in inclement conditions. The Canon ERC-E4S (shown above), ERC-E4M and ERC-E4L are sized small, medium and large respectively depending on your setup.
Heat and humidity are two hazards that have the most variables involved. Cameras and lenses are rated from the manufacturer with different tolerances to hot and cold temperatures. While keeping within these tolerances, some caution should always be used. If it’s a hot day and you are walking around all day long with your gear, place your camera in your camera bag or away from direct sunlight for a while to lower the temperature of the body and lenses. Places to avoid storing your gear during the heat of summer include your car's interior if it's parked in sunlight. While it's not immune from heat build-up, a closed trunk is usually somewhat cooler than a parked car's interior. Depending on your geographic region, these areas of your car can get extremely hot.
Humidity is another hazard that isn’t so obvious. The easiest and most effective way to prevent humidity from getting into your gear is to stick a few desiccant packets (the silica gel packs that say “Do Not Eat” on them) in your bag or case before you head out. The packs should remove a good portion of the moisture and condensation that will accumulate in your bag. If you need a larger packet, Pelican sells a larger reusable pack that many professionals use.
As beautiful as that sunset over the sand looks, there are also associated dangers when shooting near sand. Dropping your gear into the sand can be hazardous because the fine granular particles have the ability to get into every crevice of your body and lens. While changing lenses in an environment with a lot of particles, aim your body down to minimize debris getting trapped inside of your body.
The two most common ways for sand to get into gear is if it falls when the tripod is knocked down or if it’s dropped during a lens change. In the event that your gear ends up in the sand, follow these steps to remove it:
- Gently blow off as much sand as you can using a non-pressurized air blower (squeeze bulb type) designed for lenses, filters and cameras.
- Gently wipe off any remaining grains with a soft lens cloth, being very careful not to push the grains into any crevice.
- Slowly turn the zoom and focus rings on your lens. If they do not turn smoothly, STOP immediately and send it in for service.
Summertime is a great time to make images and memories that will last a lifetime. While out, you just have to use some common sense with your equipment to keep it protected from the elements. If you are a professional and are part of the Canon CPS program, remember that you get two clean and checks at the Gold level and six at the Platinum level. If you require further repair, Canon’s customer support service is always willing to help.
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