Unpacking all my gear after a shoot in North Yorkshire recently I stared in shock at the gap in my Lowepro where my 550EX usually sits. It took a second or so as I mentally rewound to when I last had my hands on it, then groaned…. I’d been using it for a bit of fill-in when shooting panning shots perched on a dry stone wall on top of a moor above Harrogate. Too late and too far away to go back today and I couldn’t think of anyone I knew who lived anywhere near. In fact, I wasn’t sure I could find the remote location again myself, as I’d followed the two subject cars across the Yorkshire moors with only a sketchy idea of the general area we were in..
I felt really bad. My poor 550EX never got a very good deal from me. I was never particularly trusting in it’s opinion of what the output level should be ( the 580EX cured that), but in manual mode linked to a Pocket Wizard, it’s done it’s duty clamped in all sorts of places, often sitting on the floor in the rain lighting alloy wheels. It seemed a shame that it should end it’s days sitting on a stone wall, unloved.
My diary for the next week meant I had no chance to return until yesterday, more than a week later. I probably shouldn’t have bothered. It had rained heavily in the last week and after all, it was only a five year old strobe, just a few pounds worth on eBay. But I found myself making the trip back to the 90 degree corner on the moor and sure enough, there it was on top of the wall, but thoroughly soaked through.
It was powered off, so I left it that way and opened the battery cover and spilled out the Double A’s onto the car seat and drove home. Into the clothes airing cupboard overnight in the hope of chasing out and water, before I checked it this morning. Some fresh batteries in, a breif pause and I flicked the power button. Ping goes the screen and there’s that happy high pitched wine as it builds up the charge and the red ready light illuminates. I knew that Canon strobes were weather proofed, but after leaving one on a stone wall for a week taking the brunt of the Yorkshire autumn weather, I didn’t really expect it to power up. I keep doing these things to Canon kit and it keeps coming back for more. 1DS in the pouring rain all day several times, Canon 5D Mk2 strapped to a rally car in Sweden at -25c plus wind chill. What can we think of to try with the new 1D Mk4?
The moral of the tale, apart from the fact that Canon make a very good flash gun, is this. Make sure that no matter how tired you are or how much of a hurry you’re in, pack away your gear properly at the end of a shoot. That way, a quick scan through your bags will reveal any gaps of missing gear BEFORE you set off for home, not a day later when you’re repacking…. This video by Chase Jarvis is a good guide to packing camera equipment. You may not have the vast collection that he has, but it’s a good guide on how not to loose your gear!