Photography Misadventures in Maui

whale at sunset

I went to Maui for a week and a half with my girlfriend.  I wanted to get photos of whales, flowers and anything else tropical that I can’t shoot at home in Denver, CO.
I brought along my Sony Alpha DSLR for the serious stuff and a little 5 Megapixel pocket sized Sony T-7 for an emergency backup and to give my girl something to play with.

The 2nd day there I was going though my photos from earlier in the day and I notice several small and one fairly big blob in the upper left hand quadrant of every photo.  It stayed right there, even when I changed lenses.  Yikes! I had only brought along lens cloths for cleaning.  I did the best I could with those, mostly frightened to accidentally damage the optics inside my camera, which I had never messed with before.  I was almost in a panic, when my girlfriend calmed me down and encouraged me to look up camera shops online.  Thankfully we had a highspeed connection and shortly I had a list of camera shops nearby.  Fearful I would have to leave my DSLR at a shop for days on end to get professionally cleaned, I went a step further and researched my problem.  I learned that all I needed was a good blower like the Rocket air blower [ http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-AA1900-Large-Rocket-Blaster/dp/B00017LSPI/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1266196872&sr=8-12 ] and a lens pen [ www.lenspen.com ] both of which should be available at any respectable camera shop.

I called ahead and found that Lighthaus Camera [ http://www.lighthauscamera.com ] had the stuff I needed and smart guy working there to help me out. We drove the 30 min. or so to get there, bought the items and were about to head back.  About this time my girl decided to snap a couple shots of me and discovered that a bottle of water had leaked out all over the inside of her purse, where the T-7 was riding.  It was wet, even having been carefully placed in it’s leather case.  I dried it off and stupidly turned it on, snapped a couple shots and was dismayed to see nothing but fog on the display.  I thought it would be worthwhile to let it dry out before taking it to the camera shop, so I took out the battery and memory stick, opened the slide and let it sit open.  Meanwhile, we cruised through the tourist shops of Lahaina, HI with nothing more than the crappy 1 megapixel camera built into my blackberry.  It was better than nothing, but a whole lot less satisfying than a DSLR.

Back at our condo that night I bravely blew air all through my camera’s optics. I determined that wasn’t gonna solve the problem by snapping off a few test shots and then used the lens pen to clean the CCD sensor in my Sony Alpha.  It worked!  I was back in business.  But what about the T-7?

I did some research online and determined that the first step would be to let it dry out and the drier the better.  Most online sources suggested using those little packets of silica dessicant, if you can find them.  I was in a hurry and on vacation, so I didn’t want to buy stuff online.  I tried a simpler method.  We went to the grocery store and bought a plastic bag of rice. Regular uncooked rice.  I opened it up, put the T-7 in (with all the doors and things closed this time), buried it with rice, sealed the bag back up and left it to sit for 24 hours.

The next day I pulled it out of the rice, brushed it off, plugged in the battery and memory stick and snapped off a couple test shots.  It worked like a charm!  You can’t get much cheaper than a bag of rice.

So the next day, I was going through my 450 or so shots of whales, or at least the small bits of them that sometimes stick out of the water and was frustrated by how many of them were blurry.  It was also really frustrating that my camera had been having a hard time focusing on the ocean.  I noticed that on the outer surface of my circular polarizing filter on the end of my telephoto lens, there was a layer of some sort of schmutz.  I dunno what it was but probably something in the air from the previous day’s excursion into the rainforest on the other side of the island. I cleaned that off and went back to whale watching and got much better shots, including this one:

maui sunset

Having triumphed over a dirty sensor, spilled water and goop, my photo adventure to Maui was a success!