Thursday, March 1, 2007
Rain Forest Digital
You can successfully photograph in wet conditions with digital gear
6) Camera Rain Cover. I did shoot a bit from under an umbrella. I’ve often done this, including in the temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. However, I can see how someone with a long lens photographing tropical birds (and there are great ones in Costa Rica, including toucans and parrots) would find a full camera-and-lens rain cover really great protection. Kata (distributed by Bogen Imaging) makes some adaptable and easy-to-use rain covers for this purpose. When you’re setting up or refining where to place your camera, you may want to try putting a shower cap on your camera and lens (this won’t work for long telephotos). That’s a quick and simple way of gaining some protection from water. Start collecting shower caps from the hotels and motels you visit.
7) Silica Gel Packets. Silica gel in camera bags can help dry out gear. I know of photographers who go to shoe stores and ask for the silica gel packets for this purpose. The Dryzone boot- and shoe-drying products are an easier way to get this desiccant. You simply heat up the silica gel after it gets damp to remove the moisture and reuse it. You can put the packets into plastic bags with your equipment for a strong drying environment.
8) Ziploc Bags ®. I brought along a few large Ziploc ® bags to put gear into, and that helped a lot. They can be used to cover gear in the field and to enclose equipment before putting it into a pack. An important use for them comes when staying in air-conditioned accommodations. That cool air can make your camera and lenses cool, so that when you take them into the damp air of the rain forest, condensation appears all over, and in your camera and lenses—not good. Put your gear inside a large plastic bag and seal it before leaving the air conditioning. That will allow the camera to warm up before it hits humid air.
9) Hair Dryer. I wouldn’t consider traveling to Costa Rica or any wet area without a hair dryer. This may or may not help me style my hair, but the main reason for the hair dryer is to dry out gear. No matter what you do, your camera bag, at least the bottom, will get wet. Often, outside fabric will get wet even if the inside can’t. A hair dryer lets you dry all of this, which can be a huge benefit with gear bags, especially shoulder straps that get wet and hold moisture. On really wet days, I’d open everything and dry it all with the hair dryer—cameras, lenses, bag insides and so on. If you try this, don’t get high heat too close to your gear.
It’s worth the effort for any serious nature photographer to make the trek to a rain forest. I know I’ll be back. In the interest of not contributing to false impressions, I have to say that Costa Rica, like most countries today, doesn’t have "one" rain forest. Much of the land has been cleared for agriculture. Now private and public preserves protect the rain forest, but they’re often separated by pasture or banana and pineapple fields. There’s a big push for creating and protecting wildlife corridors between the tracts of rain forest and cloud forest around the country.
As more photographers come to Costa Rica to photograph the wonders of the rain forest, this adds to needed tourism dollars and support to maintain and protect the rain forest, cloud forest and enhance the land in between. That’s an additional reason to visit a rain forest, but mostly, you’ll love seeing and photographing some amazing scenes.
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