Is the Pope a Catholic?
Of course it will rain, and I have to be prepared. I can’t risk 6 grands worth of kit getting wet. It’s really difficult to find a camera-and-lens rain cover which will also work when carrying the combination upside down – my normal carry mode. Back in January I decided to go for broke and buy the best – the Think Tank Hydrophobia from America. It’s advertised as fitting lenses from 300mm to 600, but it didn’t fit my 100-400 so I sent it back. Ironically now that I have a bigger lens it would have worked, but I got a refund and eventually settled on the Matin Delux Rain Cover, made in Korea. It’s tricky to fit but really does the job well.
Note the look of weary resignation – I have in my head an imaginary scenario: I need to walk across moorland or mountain for several hours in the rain to reach a point where I can make myself as invisible as possible and wait for the eagles to show themselves. I’ll be carrying a heavy pack which will need protecting, and I need to be sure that, apart from my face, the rest of me will be kept dry and warm.
My first plan was to use a simple waterproof poncho which would cover me, the camera and the backpack. I would have a stool with me so could perhaps use the poncho as a hide as well. Great idea! Didn’t work though. Simply getting everything in the right position to be able to see around and take pictures was just too complicated. I still think a modified poncho might work, but that project will have to go on hold for now.
Plan 2 was fully waterproof, breathable clothing and a rucksack rain cover. I would keep the camera and lens in the rucksack until I was somewhere with a chance of some good pictures, and then carry it side-slung from the harness, with the rain cover on. Last year, before my trip to Iceland, I bought a de-luxe rain coat by Paramo. It was expensive, but I could be confident of staying dry and comfortable. There wasn’t much choice of colour so I went for black. It was fine in Iceland, but I had more difficulty with the cold there than with the sort of drenching rain which western and northern Britain gets.
Now I’m trying to see myself as an eagle would. They have far better eyesight than us, but possibly less sophisticated colour vision, and will be acutely aware of movement. Surely a black coat is going to stand out against the dull green of a typical Scottish mountain? Perhaps more to the point, I would feel conspicuous in a black coat. Would camouflage be better? From the French “camouffler” “to disguise”, camouflage clothing is very popular with those who call it “camo” and fancy themselves as soldiers, hunters or stalkers of wildlife. You see them at bird reserves with jacket, trousers, hat and lens all designed to blend into the typical British countryside. It’s not a look the fashion conscious have been anxious to achieve. How much does looking like a prat matter if it gets results? This morning it mattered enough for me to route my trial walk away from prying eyes!
I couldn’t afford another expensive coat so scoured the army surplus sites on the web for green or camo lightweight coats. I have several pairs of waterproof over-trousers, but none you could put on while wearing boots, so I’m looking for those too. I suppose it’s daft to complain that army surplus stores don’t have the right sizes. Of course they are much more likely to have too large or too small or the garments wouldn’t be surplus. Finally I found the perfect coat in the big “Go Outdoors” shop in Swansea.
Here for the record is my first picture taken in the rain with the rain cover:
I forgot to check the shutter speed, which was set to catch little birds in flight, a ridiculously fast 1/2500th of a second, so it’s a bit grainy. Apart from that , the test went well. The camera, lens and I all stayed dry. The rucksack cover has been binned and I’ve ordered another. Just one more problem – gloves. I seem to have been collecting gloves. I’ve just counted them and there are no less than 10 pairs of gloves or mittens, but only 2 of the mitten pairs are waterproof. On with the search. Let’s see, “waterproof gloves” should cover it. The first pair on the list cost just £2.99 but have a notice in red:
Notice:cann’t be put in water,just prevent certain rain drop or snow.
Fills you with confidence doesn’t it? Rubber gloves? I’d rather have cold wet fingers. I have one pair of less insulated waterproof mittens, so I’ll use those. After all this, what if it doesn’t rain? Will I be really pissed off? How many seconds do I need to answer this?