5 Tips to Maintain Your Camera Gear

Welcome to 2019, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m going to kick 2019 off with 5 tips to help you maintain your camera gear, these tips are pretty simple and real easy to do.

Tip 1 – Defeat Mould

silica gel packs

Mould and condensation can be camera and lens killers. It will develop and you won’t even notice that its growing until its to late, potentially resulting in expensive maintenance or replacement. The best and cheapest method to defeat mould is to drop in a few silica gel packs to your camera bag. They suck up excess moisture in the air reducing the likelihood of mould growing and here’s a little known secret, they can be re-used by chucking them in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds giving them a new leasse on life.

Tip 2 – Hot Car, Hot Sun – No Good.

Have you ever left your smartphone in the car on a hot sunny day only to come back to find that it wont work or its to hot to even pick up? Leaving your camera gear in a hot car can result in the same damage and can increase battery temperatures and can cook your electronics creating irrerapable damage. Where possible, don’t leave your camera gear in the car for extended periods and if need be, take it with you. You never know when the next photo opportunity might present itself.

Tip 3 – The beach has plenty of Sand…..

rocket blower

Oh the beach – there is so much sand just waiting to damage your gear, especially when the perosn next to you stands up and shakes all of the sand out of their towel however damage can be avoided by doing some simple things like putting the lens cap back on or putting the camera away when not being used and try not to change lenses as the sand is blown down the beach. Also available at camer stores are lens protection filters or polarising filters. these screw onto the lens and provide a lot of protection. Sometimes  getting sand into your camera gear is unavoidable and my suggestion is to purchase a rocket blower to blow the sand out after you have spent a day at the beach. They are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased in all good camera stores.

Tip 4 – Rain/Wet Conditions

Just because its pouring rain outside doesn’t mean that you should leave your camera at home. Most cameras today are weather sealed to some extent but not all cameras will have the same level of weatherproofing. The very high end DSLR or Mirrorless cameras (Nikon D850, Canon MkIII, Fujifilm XT3) will have the best weather sealing however the lower end models may have a reduced weather sealing capability. You can reduce the amount of water on your camera by carrying an umbrella or place a plastic bag over the camera to provide some protection but if you intend on shooting in wet conditions, carry a dry cloth so you can periodically wipe it dry. This reduces the likelihood of the camera suffering water damage.

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Tip 5 – Get it professionally cleaned

The professional photographers do it, so why shouldn’t you? Your camera gear deserves the same amount of love the pros give their gear. A good service will clean all surfaces inside and out removing any dirt, dust and sand, clean the sensor, view finder and if required a firmware update can be installed making your camera like new again.

I hope that you find these tips useful and would love to know what tips you have to keep your camera gear in top working order.

Happy Shooting and Happy New Year.

Change Your View, Get Down Low

Need to spice up your photography, you can do just one thing and its free. Try getting down low to see the world in a whole new way.

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By putting your camera on the floor, and if your camera has the feature, tilt the rear screen upwards to help you compose the shot, if not shoot blind and see what you get. I used this technique to capture those odd non slip plastic knobs in a new way.

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or try laying down on the floor so you can photograph the sleeping family dog. Scout, our family Border Collie is pretty hard to sneak up on but doesn’t mind being photographed.

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By squatting or kneeling down and letting the subject come to you will help you capture moments that you would not normally see from a standing position.

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Don’t afraid to use man made structures to help provide a stable platform to photograph from. Try placing your knee or elbow hard up against a wall will reduce camera shake while squatting or kneeling to assist in composing your shot to capture that moment.

And don’t forget if you have small children, get down to their level to photograph them. It will change your view of the world through your photos.

Feel free to post a link in the comments to your down low photos as I would enjoy seeing what you come up with.

From the Archives

Updating my photo library from Capture One Pro 11 to Version 12 had me scrolling through the photos which had been taken throughout 2018. The total number is just under 2500. Not all photos have been accounted for though because film has also been shot this year (30 – 40 photos) and the amount of photos stored on my smartphone is unknown as 2018 is not over just yet but I suspect that there will be approximately 200 – 300 photos bringing the number to just under 3000.

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I took these photos in Febuary on Cottesloe Beach, with two of the three photos being shared on Instagram however there is another 100 or so remaining that need to be processed or rejected and then deleted.

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What do with all of the photos that we take, some are shared with friends and family but how many photos just sit in a digital library either on your phone or on a hard drive somewhere. Forgotten about?

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How many photos do you have in your photo library and when was the last time you looked through them?

 

The Search for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags

I hadn’t bought myself something new for quite some time (the second hand car I bought is not new so that doesn’t count) so I started the search for a new camera bag as I really wanted to move away from a back pack and figuring that it could be a Christmas present that would actually see some use.

Don’t get me wrong the back pack has served me pretty well over the years. Its been completely wet from a torrential down pour but has still managed to keep my camera gear dry(ish) and has carried an array of gear including a 17″ tablet/laptop, wallet, phone, food, water bottles, business cards, jackets and then some camera gear such as my Nikon DSLR, lenses, flash gun, filters, cable release, back up batteries and memory cards. It gets pretty heavy because I know that I can jam so much into it I carry a lot, a lot of unnecessary stuff that I didn’t need at all.

So I decided that the the bag had to meet a criteria with the intent to narrow the choices down.

  1.     Have quick access to the camera (and be able to put it away with ease)
  2.     Be able to carry a DSLR plus lenses, plus some other gear like phone, wallet, tablet/laptop
  3.     Be sturdy and have comfy shoulder strap(s)
  4.     Be able to not be readily identifiable as a camera bag.
  5.     Made in Australia (not a must but a nicety)

20160112_095234So I started the search with the criteria in mind and to much amazement the amount of choices now available is incredible from bags with wheels, back packs, shoulder or satchel bags to small point and shoot bags. It was during the search I was told about a company making these cool bags called No more Ugly Camera Bags and they were fantastic. So I stopped procrastinating and ordered a bag. I felt as thought I had found the Holy Grail of Camera bags. The bag seemed to meet all the criteria that had been set.

Within a few days of placing my order the bag arrived and I tore open the packaging like a 5 year old on Christmas morning…………and I was immediately disappointed.

It looked like a handbag. Now there is nothing wrong with handbags at all, in fact my Wife has a handbag (actually a whole cupboard full of them) and well, I don’t use handbags! Recovering from the shock of ordering a handbag camera bag I decided that I should take a good look at it and see if it is functional and could be used, purely for scientific and research purposes and this is what I quickly realised:

  • Its to feminine
  • It still looks like a handbag
  • It won’t fit my DSLR (with battery grip)
  • Large is, well not large enough

20160112_095119Overall, the bag is beautiful, well crafted and extremely well priced for under $90 but its not for me. I simply can’t get past it being to feminine and looking like a handbag. So before I send it back I thought that I may offer it up to you guys. I reckon $70 (AS Dollars & plus postage) is a fair price and if I get no takers I’ll send it back on Monday. Feel free to contact me about it.

Now I’ve heard my Wife say this in the past and now I would have to agree with her but I am now pretty much resigned to the fact that you can’t simply have one camera bag but you need a camera bag for each purpose.

So now the search continues for the Holy Grail of Camera Bags.

8 Feet


Recently at a theme park, mine and our long time friends climbed aboard a ride that shot straight up into the air, instead of photographing their expecting faces of the anticipated terror and fear I decided to shoot it differently from another angle. I figure that the good old family outing photos don’t have to be boring or even self explanatory but they can be different.

Blogging for 2 Years…. What The ?

After the last blog post went live I received a nice little icon in the notifications bar that said ‘Happy Anniversary’ from wordpress which told me in a rather nice way that I have been blogging for 2 years and it was really a WTF moment ! has it been that long and what I have been blogging about for the last two years, has it been a waste of time, have I learnt anything from blogging. Well I would say that I have learnt a couple of things and one that stands out is the one rule that you shouldn’t be using the words ‘I’ or ‘me’ in your blog posts because no one wants to read about what ‘I’ have done but rather use the words  ‘You’, ‘We’ and ‘Us’.  So every time a blog posts gets hammered out, sometimes in a day and others over a week or more I now try not to use the words ‘I’ or ‘Me’. This simple rule is not that easy to follow but does make you look back at what you have written and how you have written it. You seem to spend quite a considerable amount of time reworking what you have written. That is not as easy at is sounds.

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I must admit that I was surprised at 2 years of blogging (there I go again with the use of  ‘I’) so deciding to do some research into the last 2 years only to realise that there have been 124 blog posts published. Wow, never thinking that so many posts would have been publish over that time or even if this blog would survive that long. That works out at about 5 blog posts published every month. So into the stats the researcher went (me) only to discover that the stats that accompany all those blog posts are incredibly distressing (reaching for the tissues). Surely the stats must be wrong, surely someone must read this blog, surely it can’t be all that bad, can it ?

Some bloggers do a synopsis of their most popular or controversial blogs posts for the year which is normally released around this time of year and I must admit that they are usually a pretty good read. I considered doing something similar but there is no possibility of celebrating what I have achieved blogging this year. So an idea was born to highlight the failures of this blog, highlight the posts that were not popular or didn’t even register on anyone’s radar. Looking back at what went wrong and why it went wrong is an effective way to improve. Improve in many areas such as writing, photography skills, topics and when is the best time to post (still trying to work that one out) etc.

So here are the top 5 worst blog posts that were destined to be never read, liked or even commented on.

1.  A Letter to my Wife from your Photographer Husband

Deciding to try some humor and then fatefully deciding to write an open letter to my wife about about what I wanted last Christmas, did I get it ? Noooooooo I didn’t !!!!! but there was plenty use of the word ‘I’ and ‘Me’. Did it register on anyone’s radar, sort of, not the people that I hoped to read it but rather some of my wife’s friends and they all commented that they liked it and only to be told that I had no hope of getting what I was asking for.

2.  Do I look Stupid Doing This ?

This is all about a self portrait project that was undertaken early in the new year in the hope of learning what it was like to be in front of the camera and Yes, I did look stupid doing it but I did enjoy myself and I learnt a lot.

3.  Watermarking Your Images

I actually managed to attract a number of comments and one blogger even liked it, unfortunately nearly all of the comments were spam………There is also a poll which attracted two votes (Whoohoo) and I still have the same argument with myself before I upload images to the web.

4.  Alphabet Spaghetti Photography

Designed to be a fun project photographing some slippery food which is slightly out of the ordinary and if it all fails, well at least you can heat the Alphabet Spaghetti and eat it.

5.  Dubai: A city of Many Souls

If there was a list for the most popular, this would have to be on the list, actually I don’t think that it could be categorised as a list with just one item on it. Its my first crack at travel photography/ blogging and I do think its not a bad effort if I don’t say so myself.

Ok, I know that I said 5 of the worst but please don’t make me go back into the archives again and those stats……it’s soooo depressing. Alright, there was all of the POTD (Photo of the Day) posts that were posted nearly every week for quite some time. There is no logical reason why they were posted, absolutely none. That makes 5 of the worst. There were other lessons learned as well like blogging is not a waste of time. Blogging is actually enjoyable and I learn something every time. It is worth the effort of sitting down, writing or posting photos even if its just for myself, for a few or several thousand loyal followers (I wish).

For those of you who do read this blog, get it in their inbox, RSS feeds etc, Thank You for taking the time to read and like it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on my worst 5 for the last 2 years and if you know of any more that have been posted, please let me know.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Dubai: A City of Many Souls

This post was originally intended to be titled ‘Dubai: A Soulless City‘ and the only reason is because we were yet to find the heart or the soul of the city. That one spot or several spots that define a city such as the markets that ebbs and flows with the traffic of traders or people buying their goods, river banks where people sit, eat lunch and talk, where people gather to talk and exchange ideas, discuss politics but none has been found. You know the spot that’s in your city. Well, our search didn’t find the soul, the heart of the city but rather what has been found is that Dubai is a city of many souls all mixed together.

Silver Divers, Dubai Mall

Burj Khalifa Tower – Dubai

Many days were spent walking the ridiculously large shopping malls (thank you for the very large food court), main roads, back streets and all the tourists hot spots to find the heart and soul of Dubai. We never found what we were looking for in the main streets, in the malls or in the tourists hot spots but we did find it in the back streets, the spot that tourists rarely go. We found that people were happy and pretty much friendly. We approached many people for photographs and all but a few were more than happy for us to photograph them. Through our attempts at the local language and the locals broken english we found that many of the people we had come across were from countries that we didn’t expect and they were far and wide with countries represented such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and even expats from Australia, United Kingdom, United States.

Street Photography
The back streets of Dubai are the best place to capture people going about their daily business but don’t go down there on your own, unless you are have a black belt in something and can defend yourself like Bruce Lee. The back streets are a mean place and I highly recommend traveling in at least pairs or a small group. We were originally advised not to bother asking Emirates if they wouldn’t mind being photographed but we still ended up doing just that and we really had no trouble at all. We were also advised that photographing women in Traditional Dress is a huge No No, it is offensive to the locals and thats one rule that we really stuck to but there were plenty of street photography opportunities.
The Bearded One

The Bearded One

We approached this guy who was more than happy to have his photograph taken, we both showed him the results on the back of the camera, He smiled, laughed all the while pointing it out to come a couple of other curious locals. He kept adjusting his head scarf to cover as much of his head as possible but still have some sort of air flow to attempt to keep him cool from the heat of Dubai. He was easy to approach but on some occasions we were waived off by the local who didn’t want to be photographed. Even from a distance photographing down an alley, we still received the ‘Evil Eye’ from some, so some quick shots and we were off.
Shadow Rider

Shadow Rider

A group of young men head off through a closed alleyway of shops to the local mosque to answer the call of prayer. Most of the group walked except for one who decided to ride his bike through the shadows.
Night Photography
Probably the biggest mistake that we both made was not taking our trusty tripods, this was mainly due to the weight restrictions of the airline and the huge cost associated with checking another item, so we decided to go without the tripods. We also considered purchasing them in Dubai however we would have the same problem coming home however we did attempt on numerous occasions to take long exposures at night.
Burj Khalifa Tower - Dubai Nights

Burj Khalifa Tower – Dubai Nights

The lights of Dubai are quiet simply amazing and there are a multitude of opportunities to photograph the night. We did attempt it using our bags as a stable base which took some time to effectively master to be able to get some decent shots off. We tried to photograph the Burj Khalifa tower at night and laid down on the grass. We were pounced on pretty quick by security, his hand gestures made it clear that laying down on the grass was a no no and that we should stop immediately. We didn’t argue with him we just simply packed up our gear and moved on.
Chanel - Dubai Mall

Chanel – Dubai Mall

General Rules
Many countries have varied cultures and you should be aware of them before travelling. The UAE has some rules that may seem absurd to westerners but they are the norm.
These are some of the rules that we encountered whilst in Dubai:
1.  Women are not allowed to travel in the front seat of taxi’s.
2.  Males are not allowed to look/ stare at women in Traditional dress.
3.  Women should dress conservatively and don’t show to much skin, below the knees and covered shoulders etc.
4.  Men, if wearing shorts must cover the knee.
5.  Do not photograph Government Buildings/ Military Installations, (you will be arrested and jailed – no questions asked)
6.  Do not openly display a large amount of affection publicly.
7.  Visiting mosques, Check the rules before going in or book through a travel guide as this will prevent aggression from the guards, yes guards !
These are just a few of the rules or what’s considered offensive and there are many more. I recommend checking what the cultural differences are before heading to the UAE. Better to be informed than be begging for forgiveness.
E Street User

E Street

Dubai is an interesting place and it is extremely hard to define. Dubai mall is the largest mall in the world and the Mall of Emirates has an indoor ski slope but whilst we were there it was announced that they will be building a Mall of the World with a Universal Studios Theme park attached. The Mall of the World will be even larger than the Dubai Mall and is expected to handle over 85000 visitors a day. For me those numbers are hard to comprehend. The majority of the building are extremely new, well designed and would make for some great architectural photography opportunities. We did go in search of the old Dubai, where the old buildings with old shops and the real people who live there all their lives as I believed that this would be the place to find the soul of Dubai, but never found it. We also learned that Dubai is only 50 years young and that maybe why finding the cities soul was so hard.
We would go back to the UAE but probably to visit Abu Dhabi instead to see if we could find the culture, the soul that makes up the United Arab Emirates.
Happy Shooting