I recently had the good fortune to participate in the Indian festival Holi as I was working on the upcoming May issue of World Next Door Magazine.

The holiday can look very different whether you are in the city, a village or a slum. But in the section of New Delhi I was living in it very much resembled a giant public water fight.

Water balloons, squirt guns, buckets, you name it. Most of them were filled with colored dyes, especially red.

The first step was to protect the lens.

The first step was to protect the lens.

In my mind I had pictured this water fight in a field or open space. The reality is that most people simply lob attacks from balconies and the tops of buildings, sending water balloons on the heads of people many stories below.

The reasonable questions for me to ask myself before doing this would be

“Is it worth going out in this?”

You never know when a bucket of dye may have your name on it.

You never know when a bucket of dye may have your name on it.

“Is it safe?”

“Do I have the slightest idea what will happen or what I’m doing?”

However, none of these really occurred to me beforehand. The only question I was worried about was,

“How do I water-and-dye-proof my camera?”

This is especially important because the camera (and its lens) are not mine. They belong to World Next Door. They are also worth about the price of an international airline ticket. And if I broke them on such an obviously dangerous and risky endeavor, I might need to buy such an airline ticket to disappear for a while.

Okay, not really. But still, I don’t want to break the camera.

Yet I had only found out about Holi the night before, and I had no special water-proofing equipment. I had to protect the camera, but I also needed to be able to fully extend and retract the lens.

It’s all worth it to get shots like this.

It’s all worth it to get shots like this.

And with stores closed and Holi tomorrow morning, I had to do all of this with the stuff I could find lying around in my room.

Time for some improvising.

Step 1: Waterproof the Lens

First, I needed to waterproof the lens. The plastic packaging for a roll of toilet paper seemed to fit the bill, and I could use the screw-on lens guard to create a seal. Flexible, waterproof seal? Check.

Step 2: Add an absorbent layer

I knew that if the water and dye beaded up, eventually it would run over the plastic until it found a hole. I needed something to absorb it instead. So I cut a hole in a small cloth shopping bag (the bags here are generally cheap cloth, not plastic) and used a discarded rubber band to hold it tight over the layer of plastic. Absorbent layer? Check.

Step 3: Protect the back of the camera

Usually I show pictures of how I see the world, but on my Holi excursion with full camera protection, this is how the world saw me.

Usually I show pictures of how I see the world, but on my Holi excursion with full camera protection, this is how the world saw me.

Two layers didn’t feel like enough, and I worried my hands might get wet and hurt the camera, so I used a small clear plastic baggy to cover the back of the camera as well. It allowed me to see through it and use the buttons, but never actually touch the camera housing itself. Protection from face and hands? Check.

Step 4: Pray

Pray. Seriously, I had never improvised a camera protection system before. I was just guessing. Prayer was definitely called for.

Step 5: Adventure time

I am proud to announce that my camera did survive. Despite being hit with water cannons, dye balloons, and catching an entire bucket-load full in the back, when I unpeeled the soaked layer of cloth and plastic, the camera was completely dry.

I can now display my photos of the chaos and joy of urban Holi, and say without any hesitation,

“No cameras were harmed in the making of these pictures.”

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About the Author: Brad Miller is a year-long fellow with WND. A student of Psychology, Biology, and Theatre, he's worked as an actor, teacher, balloon artist and last-minute fill-in guy for any number of projects. He loves camping and tinkering with broken and discarded things. Brad's passion in life is to unleash the potential in others.

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Comments

  1. Brooke said... 

    Reply

    April 11th, 2013 at 8:43 am  

    Nice! Creative improvising, Brad :)

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