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What To Do When Gear Fails

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It happens to all of us… and never when it would be convenient.  Gear failure.  So what do you do when it happens?

This is what separates the smart photographers from the dumb, the strong from the weak, and the confident from the fearful.  A great photographer knows that even though one bit of gear has failed (assuming it's not his only camera) that there is a way around it.  Action photographers put there gear out with a far greater chance of it being destroyed.  By our very nature we are tougher on gear then any other photographer out there.  Here are a few tips that should help you out.

Camera Related:

  • Shutter button quits working.  This can actually happen.  Turn the camera off and back on, if that doesn't work, pull the battery, and put it back in.  Are you using the vertical shutter button?  Switch to your other one if you are because the vertical one may be the only button that's out.
  • Lens focus/zoom is jammed.  Try to dislodge whatever is jamming it.  Can't dislodge it?  Swap lenses and try to not think about it, it will plague your mind otherwise!
  • Auto-focus isn't working at all.  Go manual and pre-focus, try a different lens, and make sure all focus switches are set to auto (easy to mess up without thinking.)

Flash Related:

  • Flash won't pop from on camera.  Remove batteries and replace, try again.  Still not working? Try changing modes to see if it's software, also try zooming and adjusting other flash head settings.  Worst case scenario: Ditch the flash and try not to worry about it!
  • Radio's won't trigger flash.  First, check that the radios are communicating by using test button and watching for trigger light.  If this isn't working, pull the batteries from the unit that's failing and replace.  Also, check that they are on the right channel.  Everything correct and still not triggering?  Switch to TTL mode and ditch the radios, don't get hung up on it or you won't get great shots!
  • Radio's working but flash won't trigger.  Check the cord.  PC cords are a nightmare and go bad quickly.  Swap to a new cord (like this locking PC cord) if you have it and can't get the old one to work correctly.  Don't have an extra cord?  Go on-camera, or remote TTL if you can.  Again, don't get hung up on it or you won't get great shots!
  • Flash zoom won't work.  Move flash to the correct distance with whatever zoom it's stuck on or ditch flash altogether.  Try pulling batteries as it may fix the problem.
  • Radio channels in Mini TT1 are taken at an event.  Re-program the Mini TT1 on location to match a channel that works by holding the test button until it blinks green, then holding the test button on the receiver with the channel you would like to use until Mini TT1 blinks green again.  You should now be on the new channel.  Carry extra batteries since the Mini TT1 uses such special batteries.

A million things can go wrong in the field.  The photographer who makes the best of it, or comes up with a different method, will still get great shots.  Just don't let it get to you or the shoot will be a bust.  Pull every trick you have in the field just like McGyver.

 

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At only 25 years old, Connor has been published in many major international publications and is a signed Getty photographer. His writing and photos have been published in Photoshop User and Light It Magazines, amongst many others. He believes that if you work at what you love, you'll be able to make a great living. Connor currently resides in Edwards, CO with his wife, Kelly, and dog Tucker. You can view his portfolio at www.cnwphoto.com

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