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Camera Journal

The first two issues addressed a few maintenance items that I think need to be revisited from time to time. This week I'd like to touch on some simple techniques to use when working in inclement weather.

First, it needs to be said, that for the most part, the gear we work with is much more weather tight than ever before. On the other hand there comes a point, generally in wet conditions, where electronic equipment just does not want to function. The challenge becomes keeping the gear dry.

Those of us who use fabric camera cases have the accompanying rain coat that we can pull out for a light shower. For periods of extended rain or snow, a heavier rain jacket is called for and if the camera is to be left on sticks for the next live shot, I like a heavy duty garbage bag. We've managed to find some large clear bags just heavy enough that they resist moderate wind as well as rain. If you have a wireless receiver mounted on your camera that too should be covered in plastic. Microphones seem to function fairly well in wet conditions but try to keep any wireless transmitter wrapped in plastic.

The change of seasons brings with it another problem almost as serious as pouring rain, and that is what I call temperature differential fog up. If you are working outside in cold or wet conditions and then set up inside a warm moist apartment or crowded restaurant, the humidity is a recipe for a head clog or a fogged lens. It happened to me at the Winter Olympics in a jam-packed disco after waiting in sub zero temps; the tape deck had completely shut down. That time, we popped the lid on the cassette compartment and I borrowed a hairdryer from a little gymnast and saved the shoot. I've carried a hair dryer with me ever since.

Hurricanes are a special situation where great care must be used to keep your gear dry as well as sand free. Two days in a gale and that new lens isn't so new any more. A clear filter is an absolute necessity to protect the front element of the lens from constant wiping. Afterwards a complete wipedown is called for. Your maintenance tech can assist in blowing the sand from the guts of your camera and cleaning the tape path thoroughly.

Next, some thoughts about the nonlinear news environment.