About Me

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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

and the photographer better not be snoring! Just because it's raining doesn't mean you should put your cameras away.

This post is inspired by the tropical downpour that turned my back yard into a swimming pool this morning. Here in far north Queensland we're headed into the wet season. This means thunderstorms, torrential rain and the possibility of cyclones (hurricanes or tornadoes depending on where you're from.)

Now all of this sounds rather gloomy for the outdoors photographer but it's actually really good news. Wet weather is a great chance to get out and get shots that nobody else has - because they're all hiding indoors in the dry!

Take this photo here. Taken during some recent flooding, there's actually a bike path next to that sign which is completely underwater. I was sitting on top of a bridge looking down and watching as cars tried to make their way through the floodwaters. A car and a bike sign - not so interesting.

Then I noticed a couple of likely lads come under the bridge and, lucky for me, they were on bikes. I held my breath as I watched to see if they would go anywhere near the sign and they did. Hooray. Now we have a great shot with a bit of humour and a lot of insight into what life in Cairns is like during the wet season.

Now of course you need to be prepared. It sounds pretty obvious but firstly you need to keep yourself reasonably dry so you don't catch a cold. But keeping your camera gear dry is just as important. Rather than be changing lenses all the time I actually find it easier to have the camera out and around my neck with a short telephoto zoom on. How do I keep the camera dry if it's out? With a plastic bag.

It sounds silly I know but bear with me. Get a big ziploc plastic bag - one that will fit your camera and lens inside it. Cut a whole (for the front of the lens to stick through) at the bottom of the bag. Put your camera in the bag lens first and poke the front of the lens through that hole then get a rubber band and wrap it around the front of your lens, sealing the plastic bag to your camera. Now your camera is fully rain proof and you can put your hands up through the mouth of the ziploc plastic bag to operate it.

If you have a lens hood you can put that on the lens over the plastic bag to further protect the front lens element.

Works like a charm. Ziplocs work really well but any old plastic bag will do. If you're not really familiar with the controls of your camera you'll want a clear bag so you can see what you're doing, if you know your camera inside out then the bag can be any colour you want.

Doing it this way saves you having to hold up an umbrella every time you get your camera out. For my camera backpack I have a rain cover over it that protects the gear inside. It came with the bag but if you don't have one just go to a camping store and get one for a regular backpack - or for those who like to DIY another big garbage bag should do the trick.

Always wear either big gumboots or beach sandals so that you can wade through water to get to the best position for a photo. Don't worry too much about getting wet and get out there and get some shots that nobody else will have. Just remember that these are all going to be travel shots, not commercial tourism shots. It never rains in tourism ads so don't expect the local government tourism body to come knocking down your door to license the photos!

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