Tag Archives: Bag

Simple tips to save you from disaster on your photoshoot!

Am I preaching to the converted?

Ever gone on a shoot and forgotten something? I have. If you’re like me you will have a bag packed ready. But, check the night before. Things may have changed. Here is some help.

Checking

The night before you go is the first time you should check your equipment. That’s the time to realise you need to charge your batteries. Yes, always have more than one – you don’t want to run out. Charge both. If you have an off-camera flash, check they are up to power too. I use rechargeable batteries in my flashes. So I charge them. But you may have standard disposable ones. Have fresh ones on hand.

Check you have a memory card in the camera and at least one spare. A corrupt card is as good as stopping your shoot if you have no spare. Oh, and make sure you downloaded the previous shoot. I turned up to a shoot once with a card nearly full of my previous shoot. I had not had time to post process them. OK, no problem. Ah! Had I downloaded them? Er… I could not remember. Then, eeek! I had no spare card. One full, no spare. It cost me an hour to find a shop for a new card – I was not impressed with the card either, but no choice. How stupid did I feel when I got back and found out I had downloaded the previous shoot. I could have used the card I had. Better safe than sorry.

Lenses

Choose your lenses if you have more than one. Also check they are clean, properly packed and have lens caps. Camera bags are generally made of very harsh material. If the glass rubs against the material it will rub off the coating and may scratch the glass. Look after your lenses and they will last for years. Got clean lens cloths? Make sure you do… you may need to clean up while out. Oh, I have an extender for my 70-200mm. It takes the lens up to 280mm – enough for most long shots. Don’t forget lens accessories. And, if you think you are going to need them, what about filters?

Camera straps?

Check your camera straps for damage. The little slits the straps go through gradually wear the strap. If a strap breaks your pride and joy will crash to the ground! Check the straps and zips on your camera bag are good too.

Got your tripod? Ah, but have you got the quick release plate? I forgot one once and had a day of really hard shots and poor results.

I normally carry three different light modifiers. They are a little honeycomb for focussed, hard light and a strap on diffuser which directs the light in one direction for soft wide focussed light. Finally, a plastic diffuser for popping on top of the flash for all-round bounce light to give wide-spread light. So, check your modifiers. If you don’t have any get some. Flash is too harsh for most shots.

Camera?

Ha ha! I am not joking actually. I once went on a shoot with a great friend. He had a new Canon 7D – proud as punch. He turned up on our shoot with a wonderful camera bag. In it was everything he needed for the shoot – except the camera body. He had left it on the table at home. Fortunately I was able to lend him one of my spares.

Sundry other items may be important too… Torch? Large plastic sack to cover everything in a sudden shower? Map? Tablets? Sandwiches, drinks, money? Well you get the idea. Everyone’s list is personal, so work out what is meaningful for you.

Going on a shoot for a day or more is a complex business. Your day can be ruined or shortened if you are not prepared. So why not make check lists. One for the night before, one for the morning before you go. Go through everything you have an then put it on the list. Then, check it all in complete confidence that you will have a great day.

10 Tips for Saving Your Camera

It is so easy to kill your camera... do your best to protect it

It is so easy to kill your camera… do your best to protect it

Camera damage is devastating!

If you are like me you go everywhere with a camera. I would be lost without it. The one time I did damage a camera it cost me a lot of money and I was without it for nearly three months. Now I take precautions. Here is my spin on protecting and maintaining your camera.

1. Keep it clean

Surprising, but many people do not do this. I regularly wipe my camera all over on the outside with a dry but very clean cloth. Invisible dust and dirt lurk on your camera. If you have been out for a day on a shoot it will collect lots of dirt. Before you put it in the camera bag wipe it down. It keeps the dirt out of your bag and ensures that all the equipment stays free of camera-killing dust.

2. Changing lenses, opening doors

Keep your camera clean inside too. If you open any part of your camera do it in a dust, moisture and liquid-free place. If dust gets inside it will stick to everything, especially the sensor, mirror and any glass. You will gradually get spots and marks on your shots. As this builds up it becomes a big problem. When changing lenses hold the open camera lens-hole pointing downward. Dead skin, hair and dirt will fall into it from you as you change the lens if it is pointing upward.

3. Cleaning lens glass

Use a blower to blow the lens clean first. Do not use your breath. You will exhale a mist of biological vapour with grease and all sorts of other bio-chemicals onto the lens. This will not clean it and WILL make it attract more dust. Do not put lens cleaner fluid directly onto a lens. Instead, put a tiny drop onto the cloth and wipe that around the lens. Get into the habit of wiping your lens regularly and renew your lens cloth/cleaner regularly too. They soon accumulate dirt and then become more damaging than cleaning. Always keep your lens cloth in a bag to keep dust off it. Keep a lens cap on when you are not using the lens to keep it clean and safe from knocks.

4. Temperature

Extremes of hot or cold can damage your camera. So where possible protect it from heat sources or extreme cold. Most cameras have a working temperature range and you should try to work within that (usually stated in the manual). However, if your camera does get hot or cold never open it until it has returned to room temperature. The atmosphere inside a camera is quite well sealed even if it is not waterproof. If you open it the sudden change of air temperature and moisture can cause condensation or in-draughts of air. This will get moisture and dust deep into the body. Simply leave your camera in its bag for about 12 hours at room temperature for everything to equalize if you are unsure.

5. Moisture, water, chemicals and salt

Unless your camera is waterproof avoid getting it wet. Many cameras are “weatherproof”. Actually this means that a bit of damp in the air is OK. Any more than that and you risk serious damage to your camera. So, if you must go out in a boat, the rain, or near open water keep it under cover or in its bag. I have a roll of black trash bags in my car boot. In the event of rain I push a fist-sized hole through one corner of the bag and stick out the lens hood. Then I work inside the bag. Simple, quick and dry.

Always keep your camera away from exotic chemicals. Vapours, dry chemical dust and gases may damage your camera permanently. Keep clear of spills and ensure anything that is accidentally deposited on your camera is removed/neutralized quickly.

If working near salt water wipe your camera clean with a very slightly damp cloth to remove salt after use. Salt is corrosive and will cause all sorts of problems. If it penetrates your camera it attracts moisture and corrodes electrical parts. Salt also dries and leaves thin deposits on your lenses. Do NOT wipe with a dry lens cloth. Dry salt can damage the lens coating or even the lens itself. One of my waterproof cameras was completely destroyed by salt corrosion once. I did not clean it before storing it. Very costly! If your camera is waterproof wash it in clean fresh water and dry it in a warm place for several days before storage.

6. Wind-blown dust and sand

EEEEEK! Deadly stuff for cameras! If you work on beaches a lot, as I do, just don’t bother if it is windy. Or, if you must go on the beach, make sure your camera is enclosed in a sealed bag. Dust gets everywhere when it is windblown. If your lenses get dust or sand under the focus rings you can say good-bye to your lens soon after that. Wipe the camera down after coming off the beach. Never open it in dusty, sandy environments. That includes not opening the battery chamber or any other orifice or cover.

7. Straps

Straps are surprisingly vulnerable. They often have plastic buckles that get stepped on, knocked or caught in things. Believe me, although they are robust, fittings do break. Inspect all fittings on your straps regularly for wear and damage. Especially check the straps where they are attached to the camera. The little slots for the straps are quite sharp and they gradually saw through the strap. Do not use any chemical cleaners on your straps as they can break down. Wipe them clean regularly with a damp cloth to keep dust from impregnating the material. Use straps all the time when carrying your camera. Remove them if you can when using a tripod. They move or blow around and cause vibration and may catch on clothing etc and pull over your camera.

8. Drops, shocks and knocks

Most modern cameras are built to take the knocks of day to day use. Some people have taken extreme measures to test this. However, if your pride and joy is worth anything to you take care not to drop, knock or shock it. This means constant vigilance. Keep it in a good, padded bag. Don’t let kids or pets near it. Make sure it is strapped, tied, or otherwise fixed to something so it is secure if knocked or dropped. Over the years I have dropped a very expensive pro-lens, two cameras, a cheap lens and a range of other equipment. Of those, the cheap lens broke. The others were all secured or in great bags. Believe me you will drop or knock your equipment. If you have taken adequate precautions you will be OK. Otherwise you will be out of pocket.

9. Handle with care

If you have to push it, pull it, turn it or lever it with any force – something is wrong. Everything on your camera should be easy to open, close, turn, twiddle or use. If something does not work easily it may be jammed or broken. Don’t make matters worse. Check the instructions in your manual first to see if you have done it right. If it is not right, or you cannot see a reason for the problem take it to a camera shop. They may help you immediately if it is a simple problem. If it is more complex then get an expert to fix it. Better to be safe than sorry as they say!

10. Power, cables and sockets

I have never broken a cable socket in a camera. I know people who have. Sockets are expensive to fix. Keep cables clean, undamaged and untwisted. If someone trips over your cable they may be hurt – your camera will be destroyed! Damaged sockets and suddenly-tugged cables cause all sorts of problems. When you have cables plugged into your camera make sure you have them secured or away from places where they can get caught. Before connection/disconnection of any cable turn off your camera. Sudden electrical surges may damage internal components. The same applies to memory cards and connections to computers or radio-triggers etc. To avoid undue wear and tear on cable sockets in your camera make sure cables do not carry weight. If they tug constantly on the socket eventually it will not fit the cable any more. So find a way to keep the weight off the socket.

Oh! And, remember these…
  1. Clean everything and remove batteries before storage.
  2. Replace memory cards and batteries every two to four years before they wear out.
  3. As my old Dad used to say, “…and if all else fails read the manual!”

There, three extra tips for free!

By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
See also: Profile on Google+.