I may have dropped my GoPro in a pool the other night. Without the waterproof case on. And sworn a lot.
On the plus side, the pool was draining since we are having it resurfaced. But it wasn’t done. So the three feet of cold water in the deep end kept the GoPro from crashing into concrete ten feet down, but also: Water. No case.
My daughter was amused inside the house as I took off my shoes and phone and rushed to the shallow end so I could drop into the pool and trudge into ever deeper chilly water, which I had to reach down into to grab the camera. One shoulder stayed dry. I sloshed out shaking the camera and swearing more. Even I appreciated the sound effects. She didn’t even know what had happened having only looked out the window due to my interjections.* Hilarious. But so polite about it. She just asked me to stop swearing so much, and pretended she didn’t know why I was wet or even that I was wet.
Well, it was polite or maybe just afraid to get yelled at. Either way, respect!
Oh, why no case? Timelapse photography people already know. I needed more battery life. GoPro batteries run about an hour on video and somewhat longer for still photo timelapses, but if you have Wi-Fi on to frame your shot who knows. I’d already lost the end of an earlier timelapse angle when the battery died well before I came back to check it.
TIP: I started setting and resetting a forty-minute alarm to check in on the camera. I used our old oven timer because the buzzing amused me but you can use your phone.
So after spending my few batteries which we recharging, and since I was on the edge of the pool, literally high and dry, I had the case off with my Anker backup battery plugged into the USB port, which lets it run for hours.
Unless you drop it into a pool.
Yes, despite the brick on the plastic frame it was mounted on and the weight on the USB cord to the battery, I didn’t get a good grip on it, and that USB plug is happy to disengage. In slow motion, or so it seemed to me.
In hindsight, my first good grip should have been on the GoPro not the Anker battery when I moved the brick, because one of those is much cheaper than the other. Or I should have screwed it onto a tripod laid flat on the edge instead of the smaller frame, but I was afraid the dogs would bump it in.
So I took out the SD card and the battery, tapped the soggy camera repeatedly on my dry sleeve at all angles and put them all in a sealable plastic bag with a bunch of silica gel packets then closed it up for three laborious days to dry it out.
Yes those silly “desiccant: do not eat” packets that come in shoeboxes, with cameras and bags and hard drives. Save them! Silica just sucks up humidity like nothing else. You can dry silica gently in an oven on low to make it stay more effective over time, but Note: at some point it will have chemically bonded with too much moisture even just laying around, and will no longer do a good job. You can actually buy silica gel that changes color to let you know that. Some pros use containers they just keep in their camera bags. Here’s one example I haven’t purchased myself, yet. I do keep the little packets in my bag and try to throw them out before they rip. So far that has worked.
Two things: First, rice does work. It just doesn’t work nearly as well as silica gel. Like ten percent as well. If you care about your device, rice may be marginally better than just leaving it on a counter. Just use silica gel.
Two: Some people will put the wet electronic device, be it a phone, camera or whatever, into a bag or a sock they can swing around with the open ports to the outside of the swing, using the centrifugal force to help force the water out so whatever moisture left can evaporate faster. I think this is brilliant, except having been clumsy once I didn’t want to risk throwing my camera into the ceiling too. You can though.
TIP: If you soak your electronics in salt water, dunk the item again in fresh water first to try to rinse out the corrosive salt, which will take out your electronics in just a few hours, before it gets a handle to dry.
So when I dunked my camera, I was angry in part for my stupidity but also because it meant I couldn’t finish the creative project I started without a camera. Isn’t that weird? Of course after I sealed up my camera to dry, I went and pulled out my video camera with the expanded battery pack and carried it into the pool. (One camera down….)
Well, I had a project! To be fair I kept a brick on the camera strap and was way over in the now empty shallow part of the pool on a tripod (actually a vinyl pod but that’s another story) and zoomed in to frame the remaining water many feet away. So I just let the video run for hours and will speed it up later in Adobe Premiere. Yes I lost a chance at a shot I wanted but just chose another angle. And I had to shoot the dusty grinding off of the old surface the next day with the same camera, on a tripod at safe distances.
In my case it all worked out. After three impatient days I didn’t want to rush in case it was too soon for whatever critical drop might still remain and short out something, the camera powers on and seems fine, with no internal lens spots or obvious defects, though I suspect its life expectancy is somewhat reduced.
Timelapse video of pool draining and resurfacing to come. After the pool guy returns. Ironically, he hasn’t been able to start on the tile yet because of excess water. It’s been raining. Go figure. My camera will be ready and waiting for the rest.
P.S. Patience is a virtue. There are times you don’t want to hear that from anyone else. What I did was schedule my thinking about or testing the camera for at least two days away, and put the baggy in a place where I would eventually notice it but wasn’t in my daily path, so if I was really good at forgetting I may have trashed my multi-hundred dollar camera and SD card, one day I might go, “Oh yeah, I was drying out that GoPro.”
P.P.S. Ignoring a potential tragedy is not as easy as I make it sound. But it helped a little.
Yes those are links through my Amazon store because these are products I use from the vendor I got them from: http://astore.amazon.com/megawatson-20/
* Interjections! Show excitement! Or emotion! They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong.