Jul 122011

At the weekend, every time I brought out my Canon 40D it rained or so it seemed.

On Saturday I planned to take a photograph of a roadside sign that I saw last week when driving back from Camp Milton.

The day started off sunny but the forecast was for rain later, so I faced a balancing act of not going too early in the harsh light but not leaving it too late until the rain came.

At 3:30 pm, the sun was still shining and the fleecy clouds look far from menacing. However that was the view from the back of the house. When I came to set out, the view from the front of the house was a lot different. The sky was slate grey but the clouds were still fairly high. I reckoned the rain could well hold off for half-an hour.

I drove to the location, a journey of 15 minutes, and parked up about 50 yards away. I got out and had only taken two steps when I felt the first spot of rain. I pressed on thinking that if I was quick I could get the shot before the heavens truly opened. I was right but the light was dreadful. I bumped up the ISO on the Canon 40D to ISO 400 and got a shutter speed of 1/6 sec at f/5.6. It was pointless taking a shot. I didn’t want a high ISO or a narrow depth of field.

I could have tried a shot with the Ricoh GRD III but those raindrops were getting more frequent.

On Sunday afternoon, I planned to set off to a different location to reprise a shot I took last Monday. I locked the front door, turned to walk to the car and noticed raindrops hitting the front path. Thwarted again.

The rain eventually eased off and a couple of hours later I was able to get out and take the shot I had in mind but ended up shooting it with the Ricoh GRD III.

Ricoh GRD III. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

I did use the Canon for a second take on this shot. Last week, it was taken in bright sunshine.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

On Sunday, the light was flatter and I lost the heavy shadows.

Canon 40D and Zeiss Planar T* ZE 1,4/50. ©Calvin Palmer 2011. All Rights Reserved.

The B&W conversions were made with Silver Efex Pro in Photoshop CS3.

The trouble with digital cameras is that they are not as robust as the film cameras of old, with the exception of the top end DSLRs, which are weather-sealed.

When I worked on newspapers in Britain, I recall photographing a football match at Gigg Lane, the home of Bury FC, one winter’s evening when the rain poured down for several hours. I was situated behind the goal for shots of the goalmouth action, if not a goal. When play was down the other end of the field, I cradled my Minolta XD7 and 70 – 210mm zoom inside my Barbour waxed-cotton jacket. A lens hood fitted permanently to the zoom kept raindrops off the lens.

I got well and truly drenched that night. Unloading the film at home, I noticed water in the back of the camera, enough water that it actually poured out. I left the camera, with the back open, in a warm room. By next morning, it was dry and functioned like it had done before.

In similar circumstances, I fear my Canon 40D, like a great many DSLRs, would have simply packed in and probably been damaged beyond repair.

Let’s face it, cameras these days are really computers with lenses attached and no one would set up their PC outdoors, exposed to the elements.

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