27 January, 2012 27 January, 2012

The Dreaded Water Droplet

Donovan Zoetmulder in the thick of it with water droplets to spare. Near gale offshore winds can ruin a beautiful photograph like this if they blow too many droplets onto an unprepared port. Photo: AvG

Ok so I know it’s not Friday, but better late than never right? This week I thought we would tackle that pesky issue of the dreaded water droplet sticking to your lens/port during water photography, and how to promote a quick, smooth and efficient water runoff. Whether you have a professional fish-eye waterhousing or a beginner compact water-camera, if you don’t know how to avoid water droplets and initiate good water runoff, capturing a great surf shot can be extremely frustrating. I’ve had times when a single water droplet has ruined a potential cover.

Problem: Water droplets sticking to camera port/lens.

In-coming water droplet at 12 o’clock. Photo: Rain

Cure: Although there are many watery solutions out there, the best and most readily available is your own saliva. What, did AvG just say spit? Yip that be right, but not the “Broke-back Mountain” kind. Good old useful but gross spit or saliva. I’ve also heard of potato milk, sweat and “No more Rain”, but why spend extra money and lug bags of potatoes in the boot of your car when your body already produces the perfect solution.

While you wade out through the shallows, gather up a big ball of saliva in your mouth for your lens/port. It is interesting to note at this point that some foods or drinks inhibit or promote the build up of saliva. Chocolate or something milky usually works wonders for mucus buildup. Once you have a good supply available, carefully spit out the saliva onto the port of your housing/camera. If this wasn’t gross enough, use your tongue to equally distribute the saliva around the port, and then dip the camera in and out of the water. Back this up with another application before diving into the water and swimming out to your chosen spot. If you’re having trouble gathering up enough and you’re pressed for time, why not get a mate to help you out, or not.

Keep your housing/camera submerged beneath the surface while you wait to capture the action. I usually mix a little saltwater in my mouth with some more saliva, and spit this useful mix onto the port every 15 minutes or so just to keep the layer intact. Once the saliva and saltwater have merged, you should notice a fine layer covering the port. In addition, when you pick up your housing/camera, you should notice the quick and even runoff of any water. This saliva layer will also prevent any water droplets from “sticking” or staying on the port as they should run off just as quickly. Lastly, it is best to keep your housing underwater while waiting, as this will keep it from “drying” out. Good luck and lets see your results.

The beauty and clarity of a droplet-free moment. Photo: Satana

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