Camera Hacks and Field Tips
A lot of you already know that I used to be a car mechanic…as a car mechanic, I would constantly have to deal with unexpected problems and surprises! And I became really good at solving them!
Photography is no different as we, landscape photographers have to constantly deal with weird situations. But since I am extremely good at fixing things thanks to my former career, I always try to think of what could happen if things go wrong. Being resourceful is a very good quality of a landscape photographer!
Norway, like many other locations, can be extremely windy and rainy and snowy...these conditions will definitely cause a few struggles and make your time outside more difficult. In this article, I will mention a few tricky situations in which you could find yourself in at some point and how to prevent those…
USE THE CAMERA STRAP
A lot of people don’t like to use a camera strap. I know that most landscape photographers will capture their images with their cameras mounted on a tripod so why bother with a strap right? First of all, it makes mounting/switching lens much easier when a strap secures your camera safely around your neck.
And secondly, whenever I mount my camera on my tripod, I always make sure that my camera strap is positioned in such a way that if your tripod head or clamp breaks, the camera won’t fall on the ground. This could actually save you from some very expensive camera repairs!
I also like to use PEAK DESIGN ANCHOR LINKS system that allows me to easily attach or remove the camera strap from the camera. That way I can even make a loop with the camera strap around a tripod leg to make sure the it doesn’t fall on the ground in case of a tripod head failure. Or if your are shooting near a cliff, you could use the strap as a leash by attaching only one end of the strap to the camera. You don’t want your camera to fall off a cliff, right?
Capturing landscape images can be a fun and peaceful experience when you deal with beautiful calm weather…but sometimes, wind will be so severe that you tripod won’t be able to keep your camera stable. What I like to do in those kind of situations is to attach my camera bag onto the tripod hook normally located at the bottom end of the center column. This will add enough weight to keep your setup stable. And while my camera bag is attached onto that hook, I always make sure to roll the waist strap around the tripod legs in such a way that my bag won’t swing left and right. Please be careful to not exceed your tripod weight capacities…you should look at your tripod’s manufacturer’s specifications first.
I always carry a shower cap in my camera bags…I hate to get my hair wet when it rains! HAHAHA! No, to be honest with you, I don’t care about getting my hair wet. But I do care to keep my lens’ front element dry! Of course I could always put on my lens cap but what if I have some big filters attached to my lens? This is where a shower cap will come in really handy! And these are basically going to be free if you are on a photography trip because there are always some shower caps in every hotel room. Free but truly an effective camera accessory!
DRY CAMERA LENS CLOTHES
Oh, there is nothing more frustrating than wiping a lens…with a moist or wet lens clothes! I have multiple lens clothes in my camera bag but to ensure that all of them stay as dry as possible, I store them in a small dry bag with a few silica bags inside. My lens clothes are always dry before use! One thing I won’t definitely do…if one lens clothes is damp,,,I will leave it to dry in another place before putting it back together with other dry clothes.
CLEANING YOUR TRIPOD
Here is one very important but often forgotten step of our camera equipment maintenance: cleaning the tripod carefully after using it! Of course, you could skip this step if you haven’t used it in severe conditions. But if you did use your tripod in salty water, you should always take it apart after use and rinse with fresh water to prevent oxidation. I often use my tripod into water that could potentially have contaminants such as dust or sand…I will make sure to take it apart at the end of the day and completely dry it out. If you use your tripod into cold water during winter, take it apart and let it dry to prevent it from freezing the very next day!
And when I get back home, I will take it apart again and clean it in a soap/water solution with a gun brush kit. Don’t use a metal wire brush…make sure you get a soft cotton brush with extentions that will allow you to clean inside the tripod leg tubes to perfection! You don’t want a moldy and smelly tripod!
Another important hack…whenever you use your camera on a tripod, always make sure that your image stabilizer is set to off! Whether it is a lens image stabilizer or a sensor image stabilizer, make sure they are off! If not, they may try to compensate for non existing camera vibration and cause blurry images.
KEEP YOUR LENS CLEAN
It is extremely important to keep your lens clean…more specifically the front of it which normally is exposed to the elements and more prone to become dirty. I always carry a small rocket blower in my camera bag so I can blow these dusts away. If you don’t, well you’ll have a few more dust spots to remove in Photoshop…but not only that. If you shoot against the sun, these little dust particles can definitely cause some small flare-like spots on your images and those are truly annoying to correct in Photoshop. Simple tip that takes a few seconds but will save you big time in post production. Here is a good example of GIOTTO'S ROCKET BLOWER. Actually, this is the exact one I use!
Enjoy this week’s article! Please let me know if you find this content useful and I could make a part two as I have so many different hacks and tips for us, nature lovers and landscape photographers!