Did you ever notice how few really great photographs that are made in bad weather? Well, let me tell you, as a photographer for over 30 years having lived in Utah, Alaska and Oregon there are two things that cameras don't like. The first is dirt. Whatever form it comes in: Sand, dust, soil, clay, pebbles, rocks and so forth. Dirt gets into the inner workings of a camera and wreaks havoc on the whole system. Lenses too are compromised when dust or dirt are around. Dirt track racing and the beach are especially hard on cameras and lenses. For those of you that have one of those all-in-one point and shoot type of cameras, be really careful, as one little grain of sand in the lens can make the whole camera seize up.
And then there is water. Just ask my camera repairman extraordinaire Steve Kew in Provo Utah. He will tell you that water is the #1 killer of cameras. Especially salt water and flood water, but any water can be deadly.
So photographers know this and most would rather keep their photo gear tucked safely inside on less than ideal days. When you have thousands of dollars invested why risk it?
Well, guess what? We live in Oregon folks and it rains here. It rains all the time!
Not as much as Seattle, or say Ketchikan, Alaska but in November to May it's wet about half of the time. If I left my camera home when it looks like rain then I wouldn't get much done as a commercial photographer.
When I was in college I had the opportunity to work with a couple of great Sports Illustrated photographers Peter Read Miller and Richard Mackson. Mackson had this super little device that he attached to the side of his monopod that was like a clamp. He had it machined perfectly to fit the shaft of an umbrella. At the first hint of rain, he would quickly attach his umbrella that would protect him and his expensive photographic gear from the elements. Now days there are some great grip devices that essentially do the same thing, and that is what I use.
I made this photograph on one of those lousy, windy, wet and rainy days. When most photographers say to heck with it. One of the reasons that I venture out is because you never know what kind of cool shots that will come as a result of the subject interacting with the weather. Here, the F-18 Hornet made a high-speed low pass and as it hit the rain at over 400 mph it instantly turned into water vapor in dramatic fashion.
Get out there! And don't forget to take off the lens cap!
What possesses three year olds to put their hands where they shouldn't go? I was three once, and I found out what can happen when you stick a penny in a wall socket. As I recall I woke up sometime (probably just a few seconds) later and their was an indentation in the wall where my head hit across the hallway, and black streaks coming out of the plug. My head hurt and in my hand was still clutched to that penny.
This little girl just had to see what was down the hole. Perhaps she dropped her marble or penny or some other precious thing down the sawed-off pipe buried in concrete that used to be a flagpole in the neighbors front yard. She obviously hadn't been informed that black widow spiders and other nasty creatures could be lurking down in that dark little hole.
In 1983 I was a photo intern at the Price, Utah Sun Advocate newspaper when the emergency scanner went crazy with various emergency response personnel set in motion with the situation. I grabbed my Nikon cameras and jumped in my more-rusty-than-trusty 1972 Toyota Celica and headed in the direction of the excitement.
When I arrived at the scene there were a half-dozen police, fire and ambulance crew huddled around this little girl, trying to figure out how to get her arm unstuck from this pipe in the ground. After several different soaps and gels were tried, it was determined that it would be best to use a jack hammer to chisel out the concrete around the pipe. This photo was taken just as they pulled her arm and the pipe from the ground. They rushed her to the nearby hospital and doctors were able to convince her to let go of the pipe a few hours later.
These two events were significant in my life in large and small ways I suppose. As a result of sticking a penny in the wall socket I was always super sensitive and squeamish around electricity. Being the son of an electrical contractor that became a huge obstacle for ever taking over the family business. As far as the little girl was concerned, she turned out to be just fine after quite a lot of excitement, but I got a peak into her experience through the lens of my camera. I realized that Summer that access to events and people and their experiences is what a camera affords me.
Since I was Three, I have never had the desire to put my hand where it will likely be bit. It's amazing the lessons that come at such a young age and last a lifetime!
I'm often asked if I miss shooting with film. In a word... No!
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