While taking photo's of a lightning storm recently i ran into the old problem of shooting pics and dealing with the weather conditions. Usually i would either shoot through a window or under cover during rain but then i would have the trouble of a limited field of view, reflections off the window or rain spray on the lens. To solve this i came up with this seriously simple, cheap and easy to make Weather Proof Camera Housing.
The housing is primarily for time-lapse photography in wet weather conditions or lapses that run over an extended period of time. However, it can also be used for Lightning photography - as long as you have a remote shutter/intervalometer. Also, as a by-product the housing acts as a "shutter muffler" making it a possible use for nature photography, in particular bird spotting.
Remember as much as i say the housing is "weather proof", dont be silly with it and place you camera in a high risk area that is likely to flood for example, it can handle rain but i wouldn't guarantee it against a build up of water.
Step 1: What You Need
- Plastic container - I used a large ice cream container but a more sturdy container with a clip/locking mechanism would be much better. Check before hand that it seals well.
- An old CD Case or any thin flat clear plastic or glass
- Some thin foam or polystyrene
- Stanley knife and Scissors
- Hot Glue gun
- Spray paint
- Thin flexible plastic
- Some wood
Step 2: Making the Window
For this to work your camera needs to see out... other wise you just have a weather proof box and a whole heap of uninteresting pics of the inside of an ice cream container. So lets give it a window
1. Using a marker, mark out a rectangle to one corner of the container. I just guessed the size to start off with and ended up with a 65 x 50 millimeter rectangle. The camera has to be able to see out at its most zoomed out (for me, 18mm focal length) so i used this to test whether i would see any of the container or not. Cut this out with the stanley knife and/or some scissors. Be careful though, the plastic is super slippery
2. Next, get the CD case - make sure its nice and clear with few scratches - and cut out a rectangle with about 5mm over hang on each side, ie - 75 x 60 mm. Use the stanely knife and a ruler. Score both sides until you can easily snap the plastic.
3. Glue it in place with the hot glue gun making sure to completely seal all gaps. Better to be safe than sorry, so overkill it with the glue.
If you made the window too small you should be able to slice away some of the container from the inside using the stanely knife.
Step 3: The Camera Mount
The camera mount is used to make sure the camera is easily positioned to point straight out the window.
1. Start by cutting out the foam (or polystyrene) so that it fits inside the lip of the container lid.
2. Then position you camera on the foam so that it points straight out the window and trace around the body of your camera and cut that out - make sure to cut a fraction inside the line for a snug fit.
3. Do the same thing to fit the intervalometer if you use one.
4. I used hot glue to fix it in place but Note that hot glue will melt some foams (definitely polystyrene) so test it out first or use a different glue for this step.
Your camera will more than likely have a tendency to rest on its lens instead of sit flat on its base. The foam should give enough support under the lens to counter act this.
Step 4: Additions and Improvements
You now have a usable Weather Proof Housing! How ever there are some things you may want to think about.
- If you're container is a dark colour you may want to spray paint the exterior white to help stop it over heating in the sun - trust me the camera gets really hot with the dark blue container.
- If your container is white you may want to spray the inside black to help stop internal reflections and glare off the window.
- You also may want to think about adding a rain/sun visor to the housing to stop the bulk of rain drops building up on the window and glare from the sun effecting your shots.
Instructions in the pics bellow
- To change the angle of your camera you may want to make a simple stand for it - I just prop the housing up with a piece of wood.
- After using this for a while now i have realised however that probably the best improvement would be to get a better container! The ice cream container works fine and all but a container with a latch, clip or locking mechanism would be Much better.
Fit the camera and intervalometer snugly into the foam mount then start the timelapse and close the lid Securely.
This set up would probably work the best if you are lucky enough to have a wireless intervalometer/shutter release.
One thing i will note is that be careful when carrying and picking the housing up. You have to hold onto the lid/base
not the container. I put some pieces of tape around the lid to be safe.
To clean the window from finger prints and rain water marks wipe it with methylated spirits.
Here is an example time-lapse video i did with the housing. Unfortunately i don't have a rain-lapse to show you however i did test the housing out with the garden hose and worked perfectly!