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How to Keep Your Gear Clean and Protected: Summer Edition

Tips & Tricks

Summer is full of outdoor excursions, worldwide travel, and photo/video projects which take advantage of the long sunlit hours.  Among all the wonderful outcomes of summer exploration it’s good to keep in mind how to best protect your gear when the tides may turn for the worst.

Sailing Adventures

© Nate Stone

Sea Sand Sun

Considering your next photo shoot or outdoor adventure at the beach or on a boat?  Do it!  Just be prepared for the elements.  The beach and open waters are littered with hazards that can be potentially harmful to your gear.

  • Use a UV filter and lens hood to protect your lens from loose sand or sea-spray.
  • Bring an umbrella to shield your bag from blowing sand.
  • Wrap your camera in a plastic bag when not in use.
  • Keep your gear in a shaded place to protect it from intense sun exposure for lengthy stretch of time.
  • Never change lenses or memory cards while on the beach.  If sand finds its way into your camera it could be devastating!
  • If sands makes its way onto your gear use an air blower first to avoid scratching the glass elements before wiping it down with a microfiber cloth.
  • Video tip: bring a wind screen for clean audio
4/2 Windham Vet Center

© Nate Stone

Fungus is Among us

Summer (and winter for that matter) have varying degrees of temperature changes when going from indoors to outdoors and vice versa.  When gear is involved in this shift, condensation will occur and over time could wreak havoc on sensitive internal mechanisms.

  • Place your camera and lens in a plastic bag when going from AC to humid outdoor weather to ensure condensation collects on the bag rather than on your camera.  Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing.
  • Place packets of silica gel packets in your camera bag to absorb moisture from the air.
  • You should let your gear gradually adjust to the temperature of the locations, allowing approximately 30 minutes before you begin shooting.

© Nate Stone

Upon Us All a Little Rain Must Fall

Whether it be a swift and unexpected rain shower, the capturing of a once-in-a-lifetime event, or a magical shot that can not be passed up – sometimes photographers get stuck shooting in the rain.  You’d be wise to keep an emergency rain kit handy in instances like this.

  • Invest in a rain sleeve, or make a DIY version by cutting the corner of a plastic bag and wrapping it around your lens, sealing it with a rubber band.
  • A clear shower cap can be used to wrap around the body of your camera which will enable easy functionality of all the operating buttons while being protected.
  • Use that handy-dandy umbrella to shield your equipment from rain or act as a shield from wind.

 

March of the Zombies 2010

© Nate Stone

High Alert

Summertime shooting can sometimes involve scenarios with big crowds of people.  Keeping your gear protected also means keeping it safe from opportunists or professional thieves looking to lift your gear.

  • When in large crowds, unfamiliar neighborhoods, or public transportation keep your bag on your front side.  It may look and feel a bit awkward, but you’ll look more aware and more likely to be left alone!
  • Cover all the manufacturer and model numbers of your gear using black gaffers tape to disguise it, making it appear less desirable.
  • Beware of feeling safe just by having your camera strap crossed over your body.  A new trend in camera theft is using scissors to actually cut it right off an unsuspecting person.
  • Invest in Pacsafe gear or something of the like if you are traveling solo.  Pacsafe makes a huge amount of travel safety gear and their stainless steel mesh bag protectors are popular with backpackers who don’t want anyone getting into their gear.  It can also be locked to a permanent structure if you need to step away from your gear for whatever reason and don’t have anyone to watch over it.
  • Change memory cards often!  Large memory cards can be enticing and often times very useful. However, if something goes wrong and your gear is stolen or lost you won’t want your entire memory card housing thousands of images gone with it.  By changing cards frequently, or uploading files to a backup drive often, your misfortune will sting a little less.
  • Write down your serial numbers or, better yet, register with Lenstag  to combat the re-selling or pawning of stolen gear if you are in the situation of gear theft.

Being prepared is the absolute key to success, enabling you to avoid costly gear repairs or replacements, lost time re-scheduling shoots, or fearlessly taking advantage of opportune moments.  I encourage you all to seize every opportunity to shoot in all circumstances!  Please share your own experiences, tips, and tricks below with the BL community.

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Cortigiano is a food, lifestyle, and event photographer with a contemporary aesthetic. She received an undergraduate degree in photography at Drexel University and has gone on to work as a freelance photographer and teaching artist in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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