A Taste of Photography in the Tropics Part II

by Mayra Thompson

Through the Vines
Through the Vines

A friend of mine, said, “if your feet are comfortable, than it is simpler to keep the rest of your
body relaxed and happy.” So, I start with my feet and work my way up. I usually wear
impermeable comfortable hiking boots with long pants (not shorts) tucked inside the boots with
electrical tape wrapped around the top opening. Believe it or not, this protects my feet, my body,
from ticks, chiggers and other unwanted insects trying to climb inside my boots.. High top tennis
shoes work well also. One other thing about footwear. I make sure that the sole of my shoes are
good at gripping the dirt under my feet.
Even though it is warm, I wear something that has long sleeves. My arms get scratched
from the dense thorny brush. More often than not, I come out of the jungle with rashes and insect
bites if I don’t protect my arms.
A hat or head covering protects me from the sun; it alleviates the problem of droppings
from flying or stationary animals up in the canopy and it is definitely a protection from insects
flying into my hair, or, as has been the case on several occasions: brushing up against a branch
full of , say, ants.
A note about the clothes I wear: it is fast drying and cotton, and to this list, I will add a

Fogged Up
Fogged Up

Condensation, is, in my opinion, the most imminent problem to consider. Specifically,
condensation will occur whenever the temperature of a lens is lower than the dew point of the
ambient air.
I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to give a short photography
seminar and had no choice but to stay in an air conditioned hotel room with friends. Needless to
say, in the morning, when I went out to photograph, my lens fogged up. I was a victim of lens
condensation and there is nothing for me to do, except wait for the lens temperature to stabilize
with the ambient. The important thing is not to change SLR lenses while they are acclimating to
the temperature. Changing lens will expose the mirror the and rear lens to fog up opening up the
possibility of more challenging problems.

The Good Tree
The Good Tree

So, what to do? I learned that my gear is happier in a room that is not air-conditioned,
stored and protected in a small airtight cabinet in the living room with Silica Gel. This desiccant l
is the best that I have found in preventing fogging, moisture damage and mold growth. I use fresh
Silica Gel, not the kind you find in shoes or packed in electronics. Just a note, I was warned not
to get the Silica Gel that turns from blue to pink, as it contains Cobalt Chloride which is toxic, the
non toxic option that turns from orange to green is safe to use and reactivate. My other option, is
a dehumidifying Body Cap. I saw these on the net in in B & H. (not promoting) but it is just one
source of photography gear.

Water Droplets
Water Droplets

But, what, you may ask, if you are in an air conditioned hotel room? The best answer, that I
can give is that before going from cold to hot, wrap your camera and lens with a ziploc bag or trash bag. Once you are in the warmer climate, wait about 20 minutes before opening the bag. In
any case, planning ahead and being patient-waiting for the camera lens to acclimate to the ambient
temperature is the best solution.

The Lake
The Lake

Clothing attire ready for the jungle, camera ready, lens acclimatized and group ready. Let’s go
into the rainforest and take those photographs. Standing with my photography group, we hear the
music of the tropics, the breeze swaying against the branches and the birds singing, we hear
crocodiles grunting near the river a peaceful orchestral
composition (Let's not get too near the river).