Images & Gear; The Digital Challenge; Protecting Images And Gear On The Road Page 2

I used the elastic shower cap (these are often found in hotel bathrooms and they are free to guests) last year when I photographed a Sikh festival in Punjab, India (#4) because horsemen were galloping past me at breakneck speeds, and I was in the thick of a dust cloud. The plastic protection allowed me to shoot without concern. The elastic band clung to the side of the lens and didn’t obstruct the picture taking.


I avoided changing lenses in this kind of environment because of the thick dust.

Speaking of dust, let me mention that the new generation of cameras that have a built-in sensor cleaning system are worth their weight in gold. I was skeptical when they first came out, but I’ve become a believer. I own the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and in the year and a half since I’ve owned it, I’ve used Photoshop to clean only a handful of dust spots in the thousands of images I’ve taken. The previous camera I used was the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, and dust was a constant problem. I spent untold hours cleaning my images after every trip.

If you are photographing near salt water, you must be extremely careful that salt spray or water drops don’t make contact with your camera, handheld light meter, flash card, or anything else electronic. Nothing will destroy your equipment faster than salt water. Several years ago I was photographing tide pools in Big Sur on the California coast (#5) and my light meter fell into the water from a top pocket of my photo vest. It didn’t even become submerged because I grabbed it within about a half second. In that brief time, it had died. I had it repaired but it was never the same and I stopped using it. If you will be shooting waves in rough surf or doing photography from a sailboat, a sensible precaution is to place the camera in a fairly inexpensive underwater housing such as one from Ikelite (


When I am shooting in the rain, the elastic shower cap helps a lot. If you have a friend with you, it’s also a great help if they can hold an umbrella above you to protect your camera and to keep the front glass element of the lens dry. Water drops on the glass smear portions of the picture, and this can be very difficult—or impossible—to repair in Photoshop. I always carry with me a microfiber cloth to clean the lens. I used it before every shot when I photographed in a light drizzle in Krakow, Poland (#6), and when I was shooting Iguazu Falls at the border of Argentina and Brazil, the mist was so intense at Devil’s Throat (#7) that photography would have been impossible without both the umbrella and the cloth.