About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Protecting Your Camera from the Summer Heat




Camera Melt



Living and photographing in New England it seems that there is
Land Iguana of Cerro Dragon, Galapagos Islands : HOT
always some kind of extreme natural condition threatening to wreak havoc on our equipment.  Rain, snow, sleet, numbing cold, crashing waves and blowing sanding are just a few of the environmental challenges against which we must struggle, but it is important to remember that it is those same conditions that make New England photography endlessly varied and breathtakingly beautiful.  I have talked about ways to function in the bitter cold of our winters, but, given the recent unrelenting heat, this seems the perfect time to consider strategies for surviving the summer scorch. 



Heat Damage

Modern digital cameras are marvelously complex machines, with a combination of delicate coated glass, sensitive electronics, mechanical components, batteries and memory cards all of which can be damaged by excessive heat. The lubricants that keep the camera running smoothly can melt and migrate in high heat causing severe damage.   




 
How much is too much heat? Every camera has its own recommendations for acceptable temperature range. For my Canon 5D Mark II, the manual sets the working temperature range for both the camera and the battery from 32 deg F – 104 deg F.  Although I have gotten away with using the camera for short periods at temperatures substantially below zero, I would be nervous about pushing the upper limit.  As always, prevention is the key to protecting your valuable equipment, but first don’t forget to take care of yourself.






Protect Yourself

 
Before talking about shielding your camera equipment, it is important to remember to protect yourself from effects of the sun and high heat.  In the excitement of a great photographic opportunity, it is easy to ignore the simple measures needed to keep yourself safe and functioning at top capacity.   Light clothing, a hat and sunscreen are a start, but equally important is to keep up with your fluids.  It is hard to capture the perfect shot if you are weak and lightheaded.








Prevention

The Death Mobile

Keeping your camera equipment cool can be a challenge especially when stored in your car.  Temperature inside a closed vehicle can easily rise from 120-160 degrees.  Again, if we just think about the problem, preventive measures seem obvious.  Try to imagine that your gear is a cute little puppy that you would NEVER allow to roast in your death mobile.  Parking in the shade, providing for ventilation and using reflective window screens can all reduce the internal temperature.  In the case of the reflective screens, they can also be used as reflectors and shades for your photographs.  Inside the car, keep the gear out of the direct sunlight and covered with a light colored towel or other fabric.  An insulated cooler can provide even better protection. I've never actually used a cooler, but it sounds like a great idea.  I'll give it a try - at least until Susan figures out that I stole her cooler.  The car trunk can shield gear from the direct sun, but, especially in dark colored vehicles, the temperature may still climb to excessive levels.


Outside
When outside in intense sun and heat, a light colored camera bag or cover can help, and I feel embarrassed to mention this, but it is important not to leave your camera with the lens cap off pointed into the sun – just think about the fun you monsters had frying insects with a magnifying glass.



Internal Heat
Digital cameras can be a source of their own heat.  The biggest culprits are the Live View screen and the sensor, but the rest of the electronics can contribute to the internal temperature, especially if the camera is kept on for prolong periods.  In hot weather it is advisable to limit the use of Live View and set the Auto-Off to no more than one -two minutes.



Treatment
If your camera becomes excessively hot don’t use it until it has cooled completely.  Move it carefully to a spot with moderate temperature, good air flow and low humidity.  You might also place the camera and lenses in tightly sealed plastic bags (see condensation below).



Condensation

The most common problem that I experience on hot humid days occurs when I go from a cool air conditioned room or car into the heat and humidity.  Condensation clouds lenses, and the moisture can gather on the internal surfaces of the camera encouraging the disastrous growth of fungus.  It is the same problem that occurs in the winter when I bring a cold camera into a warm house or car and the treatment is the same.  First, try not to go crazy with the air conditioning in the car.   If you are frequently jumping in and out, try to approximate the outdoor temp inside the vehicle.  As you would in the winter, when moving cool gear into the heat and humidity, allow the camera and lenses time to warm in a plastic bag.  It may take 20-30 minutes for the surfaces to adjust to the ambient temperature. It is frustrating to leap out of your comfortably cool car to catch the perfect shot and find that you have to wait for the moisture to clear from the lens. It should take only a few times before you learn to go easy with the air conditioning.  A soft cloth may be helpful to wipe moisture from the lens, but if you suspect internal condensation consider storing gear in air tight containers with Silica gel packets to absorb the moisture.  The packets are cheap and easy to find on the internet.  




 

Unless you shoot only at dawn or dusk, or even better, only at night, hot conditions are unavoidable.  The most important thing is to recognize the problem and take precautions to avoid a global warming catastrophe.  And cheer-up, this is New England and soon new problems will surface.  After all - 






“Winter is Coming!”
Mount Washington, 20 degrees Below



 Jeff Newcomer
partridgebrookreflections.com
603-363-8338

2 comments: