Sharing Images on Facebook Groups (most bang per share)

Sharing Images on Facebook Groups (most bang per share)

Get the most out of your Facebook Image Posts (and keep from getting ignored)

As a member and admin of several Facebook groups, I see a lot (a LOT) of posted images. This often includes unintentional pitfalls, missed opportunities and non-preferred behavior by members who don’t understand their options (or etiquette). Here are some suggestions to help group members get the best possible results from image posts.

BTW, this posts comes with a couple of notes.

First, regardless of the advice below, follow the instructions of your Facebook group Admin(s). If they say do something that’s different than this article suggests, they are in charge, not me.

Next, the moment I publish this, Facebook will change it’s interface and all of this will go out the window. What can I do?

Group image posts

We post for exposure and comments. Many of us work on the economy of Kudos, some of us want to market our professional services. Either way, being an active and participating member in a group can certainly help.

To understand why there is etiquette when posting images in a group, you have to know three important details:

  • Group members may have “Notifications” enabled, meaning, they receive an email every time you upload a photo. Upload 15 images, they get 15 emails. This can lead some members to
    • leave the Facebook group thinking it’s too spammy
    • turn off notifications, reducing their participation level in the Facebook group
  • Your group posts represent you and your business, its part of your marketing and branding! So if you just finished your first 15 HDR image attempts and want critiques, upload 1 or 2 of the best ones, not the entire blurry mess.
  • Image and album management for Group Admin(s) isn’t terribly easy. For example, moving images from album to album is (currently) impossible.

Photo-posting (*sharing*) methods

Members usually post to Facebook groups in one of several ways:

  • Direct upload by clicking “Add Photo / Video” on the group’s main page
  • Direct upload by clicking “Add Photos” on a group’s album
  • Uploading to your personal timeline, and then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading to your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group
  • Uploading an album on your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Each of these methods has different pros and cons. Instead of providing a specific method that will be successful in all situations, here is a list of each method and the pros, cons and best times to use them.

Direct upload by clicking “Add Photo / Video” on the group’s main page

Pros:

  • Really quick. This is the equivalent of impulse shopping. You see the button, you have an image, click click click.
  • Privacy. If you post a photo of the oozing boil on your foot, but don’t want your employer to see, posting it directly to a private group keeps it off of your personal timeline.

Cons:

  • Posting multiple images results in multiple notifications.
  • If you want to share the image on your personal page or profile, you’ll have to upload it twice.
  • Its one image, clicking on it does not result in seeing your other images too.
  • Someone other than you can delete the image! A real pain after getting 50 “likes” and 40 positive comments.
  • Once the image scrolls down the timeline of the group’s conversations, your exposure is essentially over.
  • Really (really) difficult to locate the post after days/weeks/months of time have passed.

Use When:

  • Probably best used for short-run exposure, such a special notice or event announcement.

Direct upload by clicking “Add Photos” on a group’s album

Pros:

  • Allows related subject matter to be maintained in a specific location
  • Group albums can be created for specific functions (critiques, event, contest, etc)

Cons:

  • One of the more difficult-to-manage information nodes for Facebook group Admin(s).
  • Individual image posts still trigger individual notifications.
  • Member-created albums may have little or nothing to do with the group’s subject or interest.

Use When:

  • When asked to do so by an Admin of the group.
  • The image fits the album’s specific topic or event.

Don’t willy-nilly create albums, it creates several problems:

  • They are a pain for Admin(s) to manage. Just about the only thing an Admin can do is “Delete” it.
  • It appears on every single member’s Lightroom plugin drop down forever!

Uploading to your personal Facebook Timeline, and then “Sharing” to the group

This has identical Pros, Cons and Use When of uploading directly to the Group’s Timeline with one additional Con.
Cons

  • Your personal default security settings take preceidence over the Group’s security. If you upload an image to your timeline as “Friends Only” and then share to a group, everyone in the group will get notified that you posted, but won’t be able to see your image even if you can.

Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” the image (or album) to the group

By far, I have found this to be the best way to post an image to a group! Here’s why:

Pros:

  • You can post multiple images around a single subject, but trigger only one group-wide notification of your “share”.
  • People can view the single image, but click left-right to view other images you share.
  • People who are new to the group that might be interested in your work have quick-access to previous posts.
  • You can share one image, but all other images you shared are available by clicking back-and-forth.
  • In the case of a “situation”, you can quickly remove ALL the images by simply changing the privacy level.
  • The “description” you used on your personal posting is automatically available to the Group.
  • Your “likes” and “comments” are aggregated in one spot, not spread in two or three different uploads.
  • You control the image, someone may delete the group posting, but can never delete the image itself.

Cons:

  • People outside your personal network can comment on your photos. This could be a pro-and/or-con
  • People who posted comments may receive email replies from other people. So if your mom said “wonderful” and the next guy is a stranger that rips you a new one, your mom is going to get that in email.
  • Or your boss. Or your friends. Or the client in the photograph (oh yeah, that’s happened to me).
  • As mentioned, if your security setting for an image or album is restrictive (“Friends Only”), members of the group who are not your friends cannot view your images.
  • Thusly, you have to leave the album and image available to “the world”.

Use When:

  • When appropriate, but almost always.
  • This provides the best possible exposure, ability to link back to your other images, and combine your “Likes” and “Comments”

Uploading to your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Identical to “Uploading to your personal Facebook Timeline, and then Sharing to the group”

Uploading an album on your company/fan page, then “Sharing” to the group

Identical to “Uploading a personal album, and then “Sharing” the image (or album) to the group” except one additional plus:
Pros:

  • It points users directly to a full album of images on your company page, where they may choose to linger and “Like” what they see.

Other considerations

  • Post images in groups where it’s appropriate. Don’t post your blurry lensbaby shots in the Canon L-Series group trying to be funny. Don’t do it. Just don’t be that guy.
  • Think about the audience before tagging a person. If the audience is a brutally honest critique group, don’t tag your client. If they have shared it to their wall, all of their friends who post “you look wonderful” will get follow up replies that say “the head position accentuates the subject’s excessive double chin.”
  • A watermark will never prevent your image from being stolen. 15 minutes with photoshop can remove just about any watermark. If you watermark for branding, then keep the ‘subject’ of the photograph the most important thing on the screen; your watermark is secondary.
  • People do not buy pictures of watermarks, they buy pictures of themselves, their family, or places they think are cool.
  • Always remember that any upload or post is going to trigger notifications. So don’t post 15 individual images unless the goal is to destroy the group.
  • Careful about marketing to peers. If you’re in a group of 200 photographers, do you need to post an image with a watermark that takes up 2/3rds vertical space?
  • The height, length and cleverness of your watermark does not specify your level of professionalism. If you JUST got your first camera, and you have NEVER sold a photograph, and your are posting “what went wrong with this photo” messages to Facebook photography groups, a 3″ high watermark is completely unnecessary.
  • If you spend more time creating and placing your water mark than actually composing the image before you took it, you have priority issues that will be apparent in the quality of your photography.

Now go post, or don’t.

You now have some good suggestions on how to post, when to post, and what to post. Your photography is an important part of your brand and how you are perceived to others. Don’t blow a good opportunity by posting images in a way that annoys those around you!

  • Don’t create an “Album” in a Facebook group unless asked by an Admin.
  • “Share” images from your profile rather than posting directly to the group.
  • Stick to the subject matter.

Did I get it wrong?

Feel free to post comments and suggestions for changes to this article below.

The “Nice Shot” Comment Myth

The “Nice Shot” Comment Myth

Don’t let the Comment Haters slow you down.

Most people appreciate and maybe even crave feedback, especially positive. When it comes to photography, there are those who are very comfortable providing constructive, well crafted critiques. These paragraphs of personal opinions are often (at least hopefully, always) provided with the best intentions in mind, to help the photographer understand what works, and what doesn’t, in a particular photograph.

But there has been a growing trend of fellow photographers withholding their positive encouragement for the most silly of reasons: embarrassment and shame.

How Can Leaving A Comment Be Embarrassing?

Recently I have seen or heard photographers suggest (or outright telling) someone that if they can’t “intelligently” explain why they like someone’s image, they shouldn’t bother posting a comment. In other words, if a photograph catchers your attention, you show your own ignorance by posting “Nice image!” Telling someone they are unqualified to post a comment on photographs is frankly one of the most degrading remarks one photographer can say to another.

I’ve heard HoustonPhotowalks.com members mention mention occasionally that they loved one image or another from their fellow community member, but didn’t comment because Joe Blow Pro Photog told them that “Love it!” Or “great pic!” is amateur. Frankly, telling you that you are not qualified to “like” a photo makes Joe Blow Pro Photog lame and amateur-ish. (Point him to this blog post is he disagrees).

All Feedback is Important

It’s true that learning to read a photograph, how to detect subtle use of intersecting lines, angles, strong color (or not), and other composition techniques is very important. And providing details when commenting on a work is always helpful and informative, even if that feedback may include some “suggestions for improvement”. The end result is that we help each other grow, right?

As we grow as artists, we slowly learn to talk the trade, learn the language, etc. And as we grow, we can spot areas that seem to “not work” both in our own photographs and others. These are important steps for an artist’s maturity. So by no means am I saying that learning how to “Read” a photograph or provide constructive critiques aren’t important skills to grow into.

But someone should never feel intimidated or uncomfortable telling another photographer that their work had an emotional effect … even if the viewer is not prepared to specifically explain why.

It is Rude to Look at a Sketch Without Making a Nice Comment …

We are not required to withhold friendly feedback for other art forms. If someone shows you a quilt, lawn, drawing, or pottery, do you withhold positive feedback because you don’t know specific technical terms?

If someone shows you their drawing with stunning detail, strokes, and perspective … do you just hand the image back with no comment because you haven’t taken a proper sketching class? No, you say “OMG”, because you recognize skill, and its polite and encouraging to our peers!

So if someone creates a composition that affects your perception positively, they have knowingly or unknowingly tapped into the skills of artistic expression. They would like to see your “Like”, “Fav”, or “Amazing” just as much as a three paragraph examination. Don’t let the rules of a staid and inflexible photography critiques keep you from telling a fellow photographer, “I really love your work.”

If you like it, Like it! Don’t be shy, don’t feel judged. The recipient will really appreciate the time you took to comment. Don’t let some cranky old photographer make you to think you are unqualified to like something … or to express your appreciation for someone else’s work!

Feel free to post comments on the subject, I’m interested in hearing your view … or if you find this article helpful.

Safer Lightroom Catalog Backups

Safer Lightroom Catalog Backups

Backups are crazy important. No matter how “good” hardware gets, nothing is 100% reliable. So everyone should have two backup strategies — a backup medium and an off-line backup (even if its just a USB drive you keep in your desk at work!).

Workflows and Backups

Everyone’s workflow is a little different. For me, everything ends up on the Drobo (everything). I even render and work with live files directly from my Drobo. Frequent backups are made to a USB-attached hard drive, and then there are nightly on-line backups for safety.

My workflow pretty much doesn’t use my iMac or MacBook Pro’s hard drives. Everything is on the Drobo. This way, when my iMac dies for good, its no big deal, I haven’t lost my work, just my shirt (having to buy another iMac).

Exceptions to the Rule

One thing that doesn’t follow this workflow is my Lightroom Catalog. Although its perfectly fine working with my images right from the Drobo, for some reason, Lightroom goes into “Walk Like A Snail” mode unless the catalogue file is on a local drive.

So that’s free tip #1: make sure your Lightroom Catalog is on a “local” drive, not USB, not Firewire.

But that’s a bit of a risk. A suddenly dead drive means bu-bye catalogs. Sure, all my images are safe, but loosing the catalogs would be a serious drag.

Lightroom prompts you to do occasionally do “backups” — but the default directory points to the SAME device as your catalog! Sure, that’s helpful if a catalogue is corrupted, but not much help if your drive goes south.

Moving your Default Backup Directory

The good news is, Lightroom lets you change the location of your backups. You can save them just about anywhere you have drive access, including USB attached 2nd backup devices, dropbox, etc.

One drawback is that this setting is in the “Catalog Settings”, not the “General Settings”. So each time you create a new catalog, you will have to follow the following steps. For those of you that create a new catalogue on January 1st each year, that’s gonna be a little hard to remember; might want to set a reminder. 🙂

The Easy Steps

Here are the steps for moving your default Catalog Directory to a different hard drive:

  1. While Lightroom is open, go to Catalog Settings. (Note, NOT the application preferences, this is a catalog setting!)
  2. Under the “General” tab, look for the “Backup” heading, and “Back up catalog” subheadings.
  3. We want to select the “Every time” option. Depending on which Lightroom you use, it may say “Every time Lightroom starts” or “Every time Lightroom exits“. Regardless of which one you have, pick that one.
  4. Restart Lightroom.
  5. At some point, you will see a “Back Up Catalog” popup window, and the first option displayed is the absolute path to the backup directory location. Click the “Choose…” button. You can now select a location on any other drive to store your Lightroom backup catalogs!

This setting persists for each catalog, so you only have to set it once, which is nice. And I suggest using a very descriptive folder name so you don’t mistaken your “backups” for your “actual catalog” (mine are all in a directory called /LightroomCatalogBackups/, clever enough).

Hope this tip helps!

For the Casual Camping Photographer – A Shopping List

For the Casual Camping Photographer – A Shopping List

Ok, I’ll admit it …

Taking folks to places they would otherwise never visit, or even know about, is a huge kick for me. Its one of the biggest parts of running HoustonPhotowalks that I enjoy the most.

Quite often, people attending these tours are provided a checklist of stuff to bring, or at least a handful of hints. And there’s always that one guy that emails me back with “Did you seriously need to remind me to bring a flashlight to a night shoot?” Or “did you really need to tell me to not wear open toe shoes on a hike?”

Believe it or not, yes. Making sure folks know everything they need to know AHEAD of a tour is a major part of my job. In the end, a participate should be able to get right out of their car and start shooting, confident that everything is in order, and they brought everything they need.

Camping in Texas

For nearly 4 years, we’ve talked about doing a camping trip. Head out way away from Houston’s lights and enjoy some late evening photography and light trails. Its a hard event to plan and every time we were *this* close to pulling it off, something got in the way.

FINALLY we’re going camping! Ok, maybe the accommodations are going to be a little spiffy; we aren’t actually “roughing it” in the deep woods. And some folks would say if there’s a flushing toilet involved, its not really camping. But hey, small steps. 🙂

Massive Budget isn’t Needed

First, a disclaimer. This article is about preparing for short camping trips such as a 1 or 2 days photography trip during mild and dry weather. The advice here won’t be terribly helpful when its 25 degrees or 99 degrees, or during a hurricane. Its also not advice or suggestions for hard-core, long-term, deep woods primitive camping.

Folks that camp often are comfortable purchasing expensive gear that’s going to last forever. There’s a lot of benefit to having good gear, especially waterproofing, thermal protection, light-weight, and lasts. But for the once-a-year camper, a $200 sleeping bag might be a little overkill — and that’s JUST a sleeping bag!

A frugal shopper can get an entire setup for about half that price.

Now granted, it’s not high-end, well made and “pass-down-to-your-kids” quality, but will bring a little comfort to the occasional camp-out and photo trip.

Don’t Skimp on Important Stuff

Its a bad idea to go “cheap” on a few specific items. For example, a good jacket. Even if you only camp once, a good jacket will keep a photographer warm and dry regardless of destination. There are two main features of a shoot/camping jacket that are required before I even try it on: waterproofing and removable liner. Sometimes we shoot in the rain even if its not cold, so the liner has to come out.

[Oh, side note, my most recent “favorite” jacket has a bit of leather edging. That’s nice, makes me feel special, but also means it has to be dry cleaned — which is a pain. Check washing instructions before leaving with a new jacket, especially if you know it’s going to get wet/dirty often.]

Another “you get what you pay for” item is a flashlight. That low-price, budget Wal-Mart flashlight works great in the store. But all it takes is a couple of bounces in your duffle bag on the way up the trail and the bulb or LED is trashed. Aircraft aluminum for high end rugged needs, “unbreakable” ABS/PVC for less rugged yet reliable service. Also, there’s a huge difference in the amount of light you get from a $3 flashlight and one for $30.

Lastly, you’ll burn a cheap tent after first use. Especially if it rains and all your camera gear is trashed. You don’t have to pay a lot to get a decent one- or two-man tent. In fact, waterproof burlap and heavy-duty line threaded across branches will keep you dry. There’s absolutely no value in buying a 7-man cheap tent if you can get a 2-man, quality tent for the same price.

Plus, a 7-man tent is heavier, harder to put up, and collects more dirt for you to clean out. Who wants to clean out dirt while camping?

Shopping List

Here’s a few items I found on Amazon for the casual (or one-time) camper. These are certainly not the highest quality products, but they get the job done without requiring you to mortgage the house so you can camp in the woods. 🙂

Sleeping Bag

This is a decent sleeping bag for about 20 bucks. It’s rated for comfort at 55dF, which isn’t too cold. But remember that worn out old blanket with the torn edges that you keep around “just in case”? This is that case. Stuff the blanket inside the bag and zip back up for additional warmth.

It even comes with its own packing back.

$21

Camp Pad

If you sleep on your side, completely skip this. This pad (and others like it) puts a small layer of foam between you and the bare floor/sticks/rocks/dirt/sand. When I say small, its a very thin layer, just enough to even out those little rocks. It provides very minimal protection for cold ground, and zero protection for wet.

$20

Inflatables

There are a TON of different inflatable options out there. From 1 inch to 10 inches and more. Keep in mind, the thicker it is, the more you have to blow to inflate it.

If you still have last year’s swimming pool floaty, yeah, that works too. The trick here is to stay on the pad, even if you toss at night. If you buy one that has a felt lining, or you use a blanket, you can put the pad inside your sleeping bag so it stays put. But don’t sleep directly on bare plastic, the noise will keep you up and if it’s cold, you’ll wake up with the plastic frozen to your face.

Varies, free if you still have last year’s floaty

Small Lighting

I have a handful of these around the house. The waterproof nipple button is easy to find and the light is fairly bright. at 5 bucks a pop, you can buy one for each bag and one for your pocket without breaking the bank.

$5
Headlamps and Hands Free Lighting

Hands Free Lighting

Go ahead, make fun of me now. Call me a geek. When you get home and realized you dropped your remote trigger in the grass in the middle of the night while packing your gear up, you’ll think “wow, if only I had that goofy light that Joe was wearing!”

$1-$20
MagLite Flashlights

Large Lighting

I’m a huge, long-time MagLite fan. Strong beams, well crafted, hard to destroy. You can even use them to fight off the bear. (not really)

$10-$50

Bare-bones Tent

And this is about as bare-bones as it gets. These are called “Tube Tents” because its really one large tube. You stake it down in for places, then run a nylon string across a couple of branches to hold it up. There’s no window, no zipper, and no door. This may keep the rain off of you (if you stake out on high ground), but won’t keep the critters out.

Lots of ventilation though.

$7-$15

Classic Pup Tent

While growing up on Okinawa, I remember seeing massive lines of these out in the fields once or twice a year during military trainings. They aren’t much to look at, and certainly not much room, but gets the job done. Keeping dry, bug free and out of the wind are the major benefits of this style tent. You can find them on Amazon listed as “2-man” tents, but you better know that guy pretty well. Otherwise, its a 1-man tent with room for camera gear.

Hint: just like you check all your camera batteries, you want to check your camping gear before leaving home too. Especially to make sure your tent legs and stakes are all in working order.

$20-$40
Towels

Towels

Just bring some. Something’s going to get wet at some point. You can leave them in your car just in case, or bring a small one while hiking. You can use the old ones in the garage, not fit for the master bath. Or grab some of the cheap ones at Wal-Mart/Target. Don’t even have to match.

$4-$6 each

Other Stuff

Here’s a checklist of a few other possibly-easy-to-forget items. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but should get you going in the right direction:

  • Headrest/old pillow
  • Cooking utensils/pots/pans
  • Way to make fire.
  • Can opener
  • Reliable knife
  • Laundry bag (keeps dirties separate from clean)
  • Personal Hygiene – if you use it in the AM, bring it.
  • Small hand broom for the tent
  • First-aid / daily medication
  • Plastic trash bags
  • Bug Spray
  • Duct tape
  • Sun Block

Conclusion

A photography camping trip can be a blast. But forgetting something or not knowing to bring something can really be a drag. The occasional photography camping trip doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated, just a few items can bring enough creature comfort — and protect you from creatures — so you can wake up fresh in the AM, ready to photograph the wild life hunting for breakfast!

Did you find this helpful?

Leave a comment if you find this helpful, or if there’s another camping gear item you include on your photography trips!

Using an iPhone / iPad for Document Storage

Using an iPhone / iPad for Document Storage

The iBooks App

Many folks know that their iPhone and iPad can read books using the iBook App from the App Store. Its free and very simple to install. What many folks don’t know is, it can be used to store things other than just ebooks.

My iPad is full of PDFs I’ve pulled from the web, mostly application development ebooks and camera gear manuals. A simple google search can find you a manual for just about any device or software on the market.

Installing iBooks

iBooks is a very simple install. Open the App Store and search, its that easy. Its free and works on both iPhone and iPad.

Adding PDF Files from the Web

While in Safari, locate a PDF file you want to save and view it. Usually this is after searching on google and it taking you to a page with a link.

While the PDF is open on your device, click at the very top of the screen, just below the URL and Search bar (see screenshot right).

After tapping in that area, you will get a dark menu bar, with an option for Send To, click that option.

Next you will be asked where to send the PDF document, select iBooks. iBooks will open and the document will be saved to the PDF collection (you can move it later).

Adding PDF Files from Email

If you have a PDF on your desktop, or one that someone has sent you, you can send it directly to iBooks from the Mail app. This works exactly the same way as saving from the web, however your PDF may not automatically download when you retrieve your files. It helps to have a fast internet connection (wifi).

Tap the PDF attachment in your email, it will either open, or start downloading and then open. After the PDF opens, look for the Send To icon at the top right side of the screen; the icon is a little box with an arrow. Tap that icon and select “Open in iBooks”.

Adding Content that is not already PDF Files

This can be tricky, or simple, depending on your set up. If yo have a Mac, saving a file to PDF is really simple. You save the content (Text file, Image, etc) to PDF using the Print function. Then as described above, email the file to yourself and open it on your phone.

You can “screen shot” content on your phone and convert that to PDF as well. For example, if you are on Google maps, screenshot the area you want to keep (but not keep searching for). Then edit that file with any one of several PDF conversion utilities.

Then you can import that directly into iBooks as a PDF

Arranging Documents in iBooks

Once your PDFs are in the iBooks PDFs collection, you can move them around, including creating Custom Collections. In this example, I’m saving all of my travel, shoot info and some maps for my photography trip to Alaska.

In the end, I have all of my documents and maps in an easy to access location, and can even share the Collection with my iPad via wifi for a larger view or share with others.

Shooting in the Rain (on a Budget)

Shooting in the Rain (on a Budget)

UPDATE

I have updated this with some more recent rain-shoot images/portraits. But more importantly, at the very bottom I included a list of items I may pack for a rain shoot or water-related portrait session.

Leave a comment if you find this helpful! 🙂

The conversation of canceling a shoot due to the rain came up recently, and I always remind folks how much money production crews spend bringing in a fake-rain setup. So its pretty awesome when Mother Nature provides rain for free.

Shooting in the rain can be a lot of fun. Your subject can be anything from a couple’s portrait, kids splashing, cars, and wet streets. The results can be extremely unique.

But most folks would prefer to avoid any kind of wet situation with their camera … for fear of damage. Or they may prefer to avoid rain because they don’t wanna get wet. 🙂

Here are some of the things I do when it looks like my shoot is going to include rain, either created or Mother Nature inspired.

Gear to Bring

My first hint is to travel light. If a casual rain turns into a major downpour that makes photography impossible, you don’t want to be dashing to your car with 3 light stands, reflectors, 3 gear bags and 5 bodies. I leave the house with everything I might expect to use, but the only think I keep on me is one body, one flash, and maybe my aluminum tripod if light is going to be an issue.

I also primarily use a prime lens during wet situations. Lenses that have only one focal length (do not “zoom in and out”) are called “Prime” lenses. They are usually very sharp and have a nice wide aperture (f/1.8 or f/1.4, etc).

Best of all, they are usually well sealed. Don’t (do NOT) switch lenses while in the rain. I know that seems like a silly thing to mention, but I see folks switching lenses at the beach and it drives me nuts. Pick the appropriate lens and commit.

Gear Protection

Driving to the Shoot

Gear protection starts as you are driving to your shoot! Humidity will be high, and if you run your AC during a hot summer rain, you guarantee foggy lenses. It may be an uncomfortable ride, but turn off the AC, or at least run just the fan. If it’s not already raining, you can open your window.

The alternative is arriving on location and waiting 20 minutes for your lenses to defog. And the fogging happens on the INSIDE of the lens, you can’t wipe it off.

Driving without AC also helps YOU get acclimated to the environment. If you enjoy a wonderful AC experience while you drive, the minute you step into the hot humid air, you’ll be miserable. If you have the kinda sweat glands I do, you’ll be soaked within 10 minutes.

Cheap Protection

For those that know me, you know I’m cheap. 🙂 Its really easy to pay BIG for nice rain protection, but if you need something for the occasional sprinkle, there are much less costly options.

My batteries and extra memory cards are kept in small ziplock bags inside the camera bag. In the worst case that rain gets into the camera bag, the batteries and cards should still be ok.

I also carry two or three wash cloths inside ziplocks. I use these to wipe moisture from my fingers when needed. For example, when switching previously mentioned batteries and cards.

Meanwhile, there are some very inexpensive camera protection systems available at Amazon.com. These are typically one-time-use products, after one trip in the rain, you should probably toss them. But for $5-10 per package, its not a major loss.

I always purchase the ones that have room for the flash, even if I don’t know that I’ll need it. The extra plastic doesn’t really get in the way if you don’t end up using a flash on your body.

Before you put your hand in that sleeve, make SURE and wipe your fingers with the rags mentioned above.

Camera Bag

Always travel/pack your best camera bag — except when it rains. That’s the day you bring the not-terribly-useful bag that can get muddy. You can spray-treat it with waterproofing, but that usually takes a few days or a week to “set”. Bags with flap-over tops are good too; zipper-open tops can allow water to seep through the tiny zipper holes.

DIY it, baby!

For the ultimate in DIY rain protection, bring a large Target or Wal-Mart bag wadded up in a side pocket. Not pretty, but again, in the case of a huge downpour, you can toss your camera bag inside, gather up the top, and start running.

In this instagram, my trunk provides a little rain protection. We saw the storm coming, so cobbled together a tarp and light stands tent. In the trunk you can see my camera bag covered in a white trash bag.

Here’s two of my flashes at a recent event, covered in ziplock bags and held in place with rubber bands. DIY but effective.

Photographer Protection

Admit it, no body wants to be walking around soaking wet. There are several inexpensive options to help keep yourself comfortable and focused on shooting.

What to Wear

Unless its cold outside, wear very light, breathable fabrics. In fact wear clothing that’s appropriate for about 10 degrees warmer than what it actually is. Here’s why. To keep DRY, I wear a cheap poncho. Paid about 5 bucks for it at Wal-Mart. It even has a hood top with draw strings. It ain’t pretty, bright yellow, but it keeps me dry down to about my knees.

The major drawback is that I’m wearing a huge plastic tarp with little ventilation. So although its dry, it can get pretty warm underneath. This is why I suggest dressing for weather that’s 10 degrees hotter than it actually is.

For shoes, I wear a pair of waterproof(ish) lace-up boots and thick socks. Some folks wear galoshes, perfectly reasonable if you expect high water with your rain.

Conclusion

Just like any other photography subject, the most interesting results happen when you are most challenged. Take some precautions to protect your gear, don’t touch your body while your fingers are wet, and don’t expose the inside of your camera to moisture/rain.

It might not be as easy as walking around on a beautiful sunny day, but if you are careful with your gear, you can walk away (wet) with some very unique images.

Shopping List

Depending on the situation and weather expectations, I may carry some or all of the following. Some of my stuff is old and I couldn’t find the same brand, but this is basically the same thing

Gear Protection:

Photographer Protection: