Extreme winds are not uncommon in the American Southwest this time of year, fierce storms that blow the very desert east into neighboring states. Camping becomes unbearable, driving becomes unsafe, and camera gear can sustain irreversible damage in a single gust of wind. Just such wind ripped the hat right off my head as I was guarding my own camera equipment last week in the deep canyons of the Maze. The the very wind that formed those canyons and rocks still moves the sand around and pushes all living things to their threshold in this often quite, often extreme environment.
In short, the camera survived, the images turned out great and four hours later I found myself back at camp enjoying an ice cold Modelo under windless skies!
The best tactic for bringing camera equipment into extreme conditions of any kind is a hard case, a case that pads your lenses and keeps everything sealed off from the elements. Use this case as a “base camp” for packing your small water resistant camera bag which you take with you- this way you only take what you need out into the storm at any given time. The hard case can be left in at camp without a second thought to the weather conditions as you go exploring. Also try to reorganize your gear in between the extreme bursts of weather, this will keep you from contaminating your hard case, and the rest of your high dollar digital equipment during the proverbial shit storm- be it wet or dry!
Extreme weather almost always produces great images- So take your most expensive piece of glass, some fortitude and get out there to capture the moment!
The above image was taken just moments before the lashing wind swept my fedora into the air. The “Harvest Scene” spans almost 20 feet in length and stands taller then a man- accessible only by permit, this Native American pictograph graces one of the most remote canyons in the United States.