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Working in the Rain

August 21, 2009 - Michael Palmer
Over the years, I have had to shoot pictures in every kind of weather. Hot, cold, snowing, blowing, hail, sleet and rain. I do not mind any of them too much, except for rain. I hate working in the rain because it is miserable; everything get wet and when cameras get wet they usually don‘t work. Sometimes, say for instance during football season, you have to suck it up and stand out in the super soaker Ohio rains in order to get a picture.

The goal to successfully working in rain is to still be able to take photos while ideally keeping both your equipment and yourself dry. The problem is that if you are spending all your time and energy on keeping yourself and your gear dry you will not get good photos.

Umbrellas are not an option at football games so I will use plastic bags. Using a couple of Ziploc style bags, some rubber bands and duct tape is an easy way to quickly build a pretty effective cover for your cameras. If your lens does not come with a lens hood, a flexible rubber plumbing adapter (I use a 4” to 6” PVC connector) will make great extensions for lens hoods, thus making it harder for the rain to get to the front element and spot it up.

There are a number of custom covers out there you can buy, generally designed to be used with long telephoto lenses, but since we are in a recession and I don‘t think the boss will spring for a fancy cover, we will go MacGyver style.

If you want to buy one (and judging by some of the cameras football moms are shooting with - you might have more disposable financial resources than the TL), a favorite of professional photographers is called the Hydrophobia, by ThinkTank Photo. Using a smart combination of cinch straps, sleeves for access, translucent plastic and special eyepieces, you can even work in a torrential downpour like the one we had on Wheeling Island last night without getting the lens or camera wet. It is ergonomically designed so it can be attached, then rolled up out of the way until it is needed. If the rain stops, it only takes a few seconds to roll it once more out of the way.

In addition, do not forget the value of keeping yourself relatively dry and comfortable as well. If you're too hot from a heavy rain jacket, too cold in a poncho or worse yet just out unprotected and getting wet, you're probably not going to be concentrating on making the best pictures. If you know me, you know I am not very fashion-conscious, because I will choose value and comfort over fashion any day. A cheap rain poncho is great in warm weather since it does not trap the heat and hangs loosely over you. You can wear a vest or waist pack under it that is also protected by the poncho for your gear. Speaking of essential rain gear, a small soft cloth or towel for drying gear that gets wet or your hands before touching setting controls is useful when wind is whipping the rain around your lens hood.

My camera might look a little skid row, but I am still shooting pictures. Care to come out and join me?

 
 

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