From dead batteries to drowned cameras, your how-to guide to "Now what?!"
1 HELP! I have to change the lens on My dslr in a sandstorm.
Photographing in the desert or on the beach can mean dust on your sensor that's hard to eliminate. Prevent it by packing a clear garbage bag and changing the lens inside it. Forgot one? Turn your camera off and hold it sensor-side down while you switch your glass.
2 HELP! My digital camera froze up.
You're shooting away and suddenly the menu on your camera freezes: No button combination will reawaken it. To start the system over, open the battery hatch, pull it out, put it back in, and voilà: Instant reboot.
3 HELP! My battery's dead.
In a pinch, squeeze a little more juice out of your dying fuel cell with a simple eraser. Take the battery out and erase all the metal contacts, pop it back in, then shoot a few more.
4 HELP! My photos are stuck on a dead memory card.
If your camera can't play back your images, immediately stop using the card. Don't format it, don't shoot anymore -- just turn off your camera and take it out. As soon as you're near a computer, download SanDisk's RescuePro software ($40, direct) or Lexar's Image Rescue ($30, direct) -- both should work on most cards -- and use one to recover your pictures. While you're online, start shopping for some new memory.
5 HELP! My old batteries leaked inside my camera.
You thought you'd take that old SLR out for a spin, but you realized you left the old batteries in and they're completely encrusted. If they were alkalines, you'll need an acid to get rid of it. Citric acid on a Q-tip works wonders, but if you can't find it, try using white vinegar instead.
6 HELP! Every time I go in or outside, my camera fogs over.
If you have to go from cool, dry air to hot, humid air, or vice versa, you're in danger of getting condensation all over your kit. The solution? Resealable food storage bags. Shut your camera in one and wait about five minutes for it to get in sync with its new environment before you take it out again.
7 HELP! My boss -- who's bald as a cue ball -- wants me to take his portrait.
First things first: Minimize the light glaring on his bald pate. Move your lights, move your subject -- do whatever you can. Then shoot him straight on, and keep the camera slightly below his eye level.
8 HELP! My memory card is running low.
If you're down to your last memory card (or you forgot to pack some spares), you can squeeze in more shots. First plan: Abandon RAW. Then, increase the JPEG compression to shrink file sizes (that is, use a lower "quality" setting). After that, if you're really short on space, reduce the image resolution.
9 HELP! The light is low and my battery is dying.
When you're down to the last notch on your battery, you can change the way you shoot to get more pics. Pump up the ISO as high as you can and, if you can get away with it, turn off the flash. If you've gotta have that extra flash light, move closer to your subject: The nearer you are, the less power it'll eat. While you're at it, switch to aperture-priority mode and set it as wide as possible -- that is, to lower f-numbers (bigger stops). Finally, turn off the LCD. Those extra precautions should buy you some extra shots.
10 HELP! I want to shoot a nice portrait, but I only brought my wide-angle lens.
Back up! Then crank up your resolution, plop your subject in the center of your frame, and start shooting. You'll have to crop for composition later, but it's better than a photo that gives your subject a bulging, cartoonish nose.
11 HELP! Jack sprat wants a portrait that flatters both him and his wife.
When you need to photograph a couple who are of vastly different sizes, sit the more slender of the two on a high-backed chair and position the other gracefully behind it. No chair? Shoot them both at a 45-degree angle, and ask the slimmer one to stand in front. If that's not enough, try shortlighting: Place the light source to the side, so that only a quarter of their faces are lit for maximum flattery.