A Grab-bag of tips for a "whenever" need.
When I was in the service we all had a laundry bag for dirty cloths. It was not much more than a pillow case with a draw string that we hung from the bunk. I still have it and also still use it, but for other things. I keep two of them in my car for field trips. One for any dirty cloths storage and the other when I may need it to better anchor my tripod. I will fill the bag with stones and rocks and hang it from the bottom of my tripod to hold it in place. Works great! And you can make them from an old pillow case and string.
Ever need instant info about your cameraís specialty settings when you are in the field, but in no way going to carry the manual with you? You probably will have an iPhone though, so if there are a few pages of tech stuff you think you may need, just snap a pic of those pages to look at later. Or download a PDF copy of the whole manual and never be without any info you ever need, anytime, anywhere.
You have set up a still life and you have already used all three of your hands, but still need some more fill light on one side. The easiest, no hands, way of getting it is to tape some (crinkled) aluminum foil to the bottom of a cardboard box. The box can be placed anywhere you need it to the side, and it stands up on its own. Place small pieces of wood under a corner to tilt it up or down if that is also needed.
My knees are the fist thing that gets cut up and dried out from kneeling down in the field when shooting. Solution? I bought a pair of those sports knee pads that fasten with velcro. Easy on, easy off, and no more blood running down my legs from being all cut up. There are also ones for your elbows.
Always carry a pocket size pack of tissues in your bag. Use them for cleaning off the camera & lenses instead of wasting lens tissues, and they also make a great flash diffuser for harsh fill light needs. Then you will have more lens tissue for the lens glass itself. Do NOT use the regular tissue on any lens glass.
You need to view some old slides but donít have a light-box, and we all know what holding them up to the window is like. Use your monitor. Open a new Photoshop window with a white background and make it full screen. Too dark or not bright enough? Use the preferences to change the monitors brightness. Makes a great light-box and you donít even have to store it anywhere.
You are retouching recent image files and find you have the same small white dot in the same place on each image (illustration below, left). You look at the sensor but canít see any dust in that area. Thatís because it is not dust. Pure white spots are actually dead pixels in the sensor. Enlarged on the screen and they will look like, one or more small white squares, each of which is a dead pixel (illustration below, left).
Dead pixels cannot be cleaned, or fixed. You either replace the sensor itself, or live with the job of editing them with a small PS clone tool. When they are in a bright or white area of an image you will never see them. In dark areas you just have to deal with them, BUT at least you will always know where they are in the future.
Do you have one of those folding camping chairs that come in a heavy storage/carrying bag? Make it do double-duty by also using it as a tripod bag when in the field. Another item you can use for two jobs is your cars folding windshield sun shield. Spray paint one side of it silver and use it in the field as a great reflector. The silver also reflects heat better when used in the car (silver side out of course).
Do you use more than one or two memory cards when out shooting for a whole day? Do you loose track of which ones are empty and which ones have been filled with images? Just store all of the empty ones front (face) up and when you put a full one away place it face down. No more guessing.
If you use a flash a lot for fill lighting and you find that the amount of light it delivers seems to change as you shoot, it could be no more than a problem of sloppy housekeeping. Which means, CLEAN the part that reads the light, which means the flash sensor on the front. If these get a build up of dust and grim they cannot make an accurate reading which means you will not get the proper amount of light from your unit. Always keep a supply of Q-Tips on hand. I will put a hand full into a plastic sandwich bag to keep in a cleaning supply box.
Part-3 of my Tips collection will be in a future issue of Nature Photographers Online Magazine..
Paul Faust - NPN 1680
Paul W. Faust is a self-taught Fine Art Photographer, Writer, Digital Imaging, and Photo Stock Service professional. You can visit Paulís BLOG and see more of his articles that are not on NPN, as well as his other Photo Blog pages, and a Gallery of the Fine Art Images that he sells at www.impressions-of-light.com.