Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Spring cleaning time

Winter is quickly leaving us and taking the winter blahs with it. Soon we will all be actively shooting everything in sight with our cameras. Some of us with new gear purchased or gifted over the holiday season. As is nature, warm weather stirs up all kinds of activities.

Since the days are not nearly warm enough to be spring, it is time to begin that yearly chore of cleaning and preparing ourselves for the warm weather. Spring cleaning is one of those traditions that we all must do. "Out with the old, in with the new," as the saying goes. That also pertains to our camera gear.

This is the time to go through all your camera equipment and do some spring cleaning. Find yourself a day in which you can work undisturbed and lay out all your gear. In particular, you should do three things, clean, maintain and unclutter.

Cleaning - Much of our photo gear are sensitive pieces of electronic equipment susceptible to damage from dirt and moisture. Non-electronic gear can also fail from lack of cleaning. A soft cloth is often all that is needed to clean the dust of our cameras, lenses, flashes and other gear. Remember to follow manufacturer's cleaning instructions. Avoid touching sensitive parts with your hands. When cleaning lenses, never apply cleaning solution directly on the lens and never use canned air as it's too powerful and oily. Check all electronic contacts (lens, battery and memory cards) to make sure they are free of oxidation. There are plenty of instructional blogs and videos you can use for reference. If in doubt, ask someone knowledgeable for help. Your local camera store is a good place to start for assistance.

Maintenance - Things get loose from repeated use. Light stands and tripods are notorious for having things come loose. Often a little tightening with a screwdriver or hex wrench is all that's needed. Light fixtures, modifiers and other studio stuff should get a fitness test. Make sure all the parts that fit together actually do. Wheels and casters should roll easily. If not, a little oil or grease will solve that problem. Things also get broken with use. If an item can be fixed, now is the time to do it, not when you need it. If it can't be fixed recycle, re-purpose or throw it away if possible. Which leads to the last part.

Unclutter - If you've been in this business/hobby long enough you likely amassed quite a bit of gear. Take the time to sort things out. The one piece of gear that most people don't think about are storage containers. I am always looking for tote bags, sturdy boxes or plastic bins to sort and store things in. One area that can get rather out of control are those countless rechargeable batteries. A small clear plastic tote box can keep all your batteries together with your chargers and battery tester. A couple of utility shelves in a cool dry corner of your basement can be used to store less frequently used gear. Drape an old bed sheet over the front to keep dust from taking over.

As you go through your gear, set aside anything you don't use or need. These items can be sold locally through Craig's List or on eBay. The added funds can be applied towards something you really want or need.

So take a few hours this weekend, sort through your stuff and clean, maintain and unclutter all your photo gear.

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