Originally Posted by BradS
I've never tried a rain-forest but I HAVE tried tropical rain -- the Indian monsoon. Cyclists' impermeable rain-capes are good as they keep the rain off both you and the camera and allow some circulation of air, though as others have said, you still have the humidity to contend with. This, I have found, plays havoc with electrical switchgear in meters. etc.
OK, the Nikons are definitely staying home!
A handheld incident meter in a zip lock bag sounds like a good idea. I think it might not even need to find itself outside of the bag. Surely, an incident reading through the plastic would be "close enough". I'll have to do some experiments when I get home from work.
I lived for 4 weeks on the Amazon river in Peru back in 2001, working in a village medical clinic. I was only a few miles from the junction with the Napo River, and I did get to take a trip up the Napo.
I'd suggest the following for your trip:
1) forget slide film when you're actually in the jungle; you will need to tolerate extremes of contrast, as the shadows are deep and the highlights very bright. There isn't much place for Velvia unless you're doing shots out in the open over the river.
2) bring a polarizing filter!! the rainforest generates simply unbelievable cloud formations that just sit ponderously over the rivers and jungles.
3) bring a flash and a macro lens -- if you're lucky enough to do any night walks in the jungle, you'll see some truly amazing creatures
4) the stars are like nothing you've ever seen (when it's clear); consider a tripod!
At least near its junction with the Amazon the Napo river is HUGE. It's probably 2 or 3 miles wide, which is similar to the Amazon's width at that point (2600 miles upstream from the ocean). On the other hand the Napo is comparatively shallow. There are lots of amazing lagoons, swamps, blackwater rivers, etc all around the Napo. It's an amazing place.
Here's a shot that I took on 35mm Kodak Gold 200 with a polarizing filter, and enlarged to 8x12. This is the Napo River, maybe an hour by boat from its junction with the Amazon.
If you are taking pictures in a tropical rain forest (as opposed to of) there is not much light and you will need a tripod. I always keep my camera in a zip loc bag with a dessicant. If you do have the camera in an air conditioned room, put it in a zip loc before going outside and let the camera warm up inside the bag. This will mitigate the condensation on the camera. I've never had any problems with my F80 or FM3A using this system.
If I had been present at the creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better arrangement of the Universe.
Alfonso the Wise, 1221-1284
I put important gear in Aloksak bags. Picture a military-grade ziplock bag that's more punture-proof, wear-proof, water-proof and seals easier and better.
I use regular ziplocks for toiletries, etc., but anything I care about goes in an Aloksak bag. I use a big one for my cameras (Rolleicord, Hasselblad, even a 4x5), a medium one for the toilet paper (precious stuff) and a smaller one for my survival essentials.
Check out any good outiftter or army-navy store (rei.com, campmor.com, uscav.com, etc). They're a little pricier, but well worth the money.
As for the camera, I agree with going for an all manual camera. Nothing electronic. You can live with a dead meter, but not a dead camera. While you're at it, take a few disposable cameras. They weigh nothing, fit in every pocket, and will get the shot when you don't have time to fiddle with a real camera. A shot with a bad camera (and most disposables aren't that bad now) is better than no shot. What can it hurt? And no one but you will know . . .
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