RIGID Tool Shop Vacuum. Suck it up!
I don't know if you've been paying attention to the weather in Austin, Texas, but we seem to have traded weather profiles with Seattle or some sort of sub-tropic rain forest. It's been raining every day for the last ten days and when I looked at the weather reports this morning over breakfast the forecasts called for at least another week of thunderstorms and other assorted rain phenomena.
But this morning it got personal. I woke up around five a.m. which is not my usual schedule. The cause of my abrupt transition to full consciousness was a weather system that was dumping rain like crazy, accompanied with 360 degree lighting and enough booming thunder to make my dog hide, shaking, in the deepest reaches of my closet.
After weeks of rain the ground was saturated and, after coffee, a warm chocolate croissant and a plate of scrambled eggs with my favorite hot sauce slathered on top, I went out to the studio to work on a video rig I've been customizing. I walked into the studio, flicked on the lights and immediately saw that half the space had standing water on the concrete floor. Drat. We need water in central Texas, just not on my studio floor...
The culprit was an overwhelmed French drain. The gravel over the top had become covered with a week's worth of eroded top soil and that created a slippery pathway for the water to slide right into the masonry of my small building. It's happened before----that's why we have the French drain. Who knew continual maintenance would be required?
Having been down this road before my office is equipped with a large and boisterous shop vacuum that is wonderful for sucking up water like a champ. In twenty minutes the standing water was gone and I started lifting the foam floor tiles to capture moisture hiding beneath. Now, an hour and a half later the floor is almost completely dry and the air conditioning system is doing a yeoman's job of getting the humidity under control. Go air conditioning!!!
My very first studio space was on the second floor of an older warehouse building in east Austin which had a roof that leaked like an unnamed media source. It was so bad at one point that we constructed internal gutters to channel the intruding water. We bitched about it---a lot---but the rent was so ridiculously cheap that we didn't have much leverage over our landlord. I did learn a lot of valuable lessons
from my semi-acquatic tenure there.
from my semi-acquatic tenure there.
No gear gets left on the bare floor. Ever. Since the water in the old space came from above we'd pile our lighting gear up on tables when it looked like it might rain and, when we left for the night, we'd pull tarps over everything to keep the drips from ruining the good stuff. I don't have any roof leaks in my current space but I can count on getting a bit of floor water once every year or so, after a particularly savage rain. I don't need to cover gear but everything does sit up above the floor.
The first layer of protection is provided by the dense foam mats we have covering 90% of the studio floor.
The mats are about 3/8ths of an inch thick and we've never had more that about an 1/8th of an inch of water on any part of the floor. I can leave light stands, bags, cables and other stuff on the mats and I don't need to worry about stuff---much. Today's biggest victims were four rolls of half used seamless background paper, the ends of which were sitting on the bare floor. As they have already been paid for by clients the loss to me is negligible. In the future, if I ever buy seamless paper again, I'll make sure the ends sit on the mats.
The mats also serve another function and that's to lessen the impact of expensive, dropped items. I would estimate that the interlocking foam mats I originally bought from Costco have saved us thousands of dollars in impact damage, etc.
All of the expensive stuff: Cameras and lenses and meters live in rolling cases like the one shown just below. These are lockable, have wheels to roll on, and sit at least six inches off the floor. Nothing I've stuck in one of our two rolling tool cases has ever been damaged or dunked. We used to buy these for around $150 and they are worth every penny. They also keep me organized; Nikon in one drawer, Olympus in another drawer, flashes and radio triggers in their own drawer, cables and electronic junk just above that.
Tool chest on wheels in against one wall.
Note to self: Get the art off the floor....
Everything that doesn't fit in a tool cabinet or sit comfortably on the mats goes on a Metro Shelf. I bought the brand name stuff about 19 years ago and have never had to touch it again. And even though I'm sloppy about loading them the stands themselves still look great. There's nearly a foot between the floor and the bottom shelf but I do cheat and keep waterproof Pelican cases underneath to save on space. Just make sure the purge valve is closed if you do that.....
I was outside the studio today with a shovel cleaning topsoil off the bigger rocks that cover the French drain. I've also placed some material adjacent to the drain area to channel water away and to stop the erosion. We'll see what happens as the week progresses. We have a "hilly" lot so sometimes water management after 40 days floods is a little tricky.
That's why, like Popeye the Sailor Man, I eat my fresh spinach sautéd with garlic.....
All images made with the (weather resistant) Olympus
OM-5.2 and the (non-weather resistant)
Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 lens.
Hope you are safe and dry.
If you are trapped by rising water and just waiting around for it to subside
you might want to download my Novel from Amazon.com
and read it on your favorite device. It's a fun way to pass the time.
I've provided a link below:
But you might just need a Shop Vac instead...