Hurricane Sandy Passed through. It left a trail of devastation. This is the second year in a row we have had freak weather after Photo Plus expo. Yesterday, I went out on a walk just to see how my neighborhood was doing before the worst part of the storm hit. Our Editor and Chief went out and tested the Canon 5D Mk II and the 24-70mm f2.8. These things were easy to do. In the storms’ aftermath this is where things get hard, especially for photographers. Some of us want to get and shoot but it can be dangerous for us in many ways.
Here I offer you practical tips to help you get through the aftermaths of events like this.
Editor’s Note: If you’re going to do this, please exercise a ton of caution and please think about your safety first. Please, please, please; if you are going to try to attempt shooting in hazardous situations, please think any movement you do through and always plan ahead before you head into the maelstrom. We wish all the victims and those who had unfortunate circumstances happen to them during Hurricane Sandy a speedy recovery and only the very best. May the upcoming holidays bring you miracles.
Bring The Right Gear
The idea is to K.I.S.S. the situation. Keep It Simple Shooter. No matter what camera you use, you want to keep a lens with a lot of range. You don’t want to go out and be artsy, you want to be able to go out and get the shot; and that should be your first priority.
You will not be able to physically reach everything though. Power lines may be down or it just may be treacherous to walk through certain areas. You may want to get a whole scene, requiring a wide angle. You may also be in an environment where you just need to be out the way. With this in mind you are going to want a zoom lens. If you are shooting with a Micro Four Thirds camera you would want to look at a lens like an Olympus 18-180 f3.5-6.3 If you are shooting with a DSLR, a Tamron 18-270 3.5-6.3. Lenses like these provide almost everything you need to for days like this. You don’t want to be limited.
Sure, there are weather sealed options; but if you’re skiddish, leave the expensive lenses at home.
Protect Your Gear
If you can, keep rain gear handy. If you don’t have commercial rain gear to protect your camera, you can use an old pair of rain trousers. This is potentially the most important thing I can tell you. These things not only provide protection from rain, they can protect your gear from snow and mud. It’s important to keep a good bag with you so you also. This will enable you to put your camera away as fast as possible. A bag like the Tamrac Evolution 8 which comes with a rain shield is pretty much perfect. A Think Tank Photo Retrospective 5 is good if you don’t like backpacks. These bags allow not just for gear, but also allow you to carry water and a first aid kits, if you run across a hurt person. Don’t only think about bags; have a good camera strap like a Black Rapid RS- 7 available.
You don’t drop your camera if you suddenly have to move fast.
Don’t Just be Behind the Lens
Make yourself available to help, if needed. If you are willing to be out there getting images, help people if needed. Morally and ethically, it’s the right thing to do. As good citizens of where we live, if we don’t start to help each other, no one else will. Do not go out there to profit from people’s pain. Tell peoples story and help peoples story continue where ever you can. If you can help a person move a car out the way, do so. If a person needs a band aid or water, and you brought extra, share. Some folks just want someone to talk to. Be that person. If you can volunteer at the Red Cross or a food bank again do so. Help where needed.
When Taking Pics of People
People have been through things. They may not have had power for a while. Some people may have had damage to their homes. They may have even lost love ones. Understand they may not want a camera in their face. This may be where you use a zoom or just don’t take the pic. Show people respect during the hard times. Not every shot it worth it.
The Most Important Thing of All
Take care of yourself. Do not take any unnecessary risk. If you are not there to process your photos what’s the point. Dress right for whatever weather is out there. Check so see if there are advisories telling you to stay out of certain areas. Look for reports of downed wires. Avoid them like the plague. If you have to have a picture, remember you should be carrying a zoom lens. Keep your distance. Your household comes first. If your wife and kids, or parents depending on your age, say, they feel better if you stay in. Do so.
Family comes first.
In the End
Times like this suck. I would rather be doing a lens review, testing new gear or something of that nature. However, friends of mine don’t have power. New Jersey and New York, where I spend most of my waking hours, are in slight chaos. The only thing I can do is keep my chin up, camera batteries charged ,keep calm and carry on. I go out and help when and where I can. I did do that, In my own way before I wrote this. I hope everyone who was in harms way is safe as they possibly can be.
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