A monsoon getaway in Lonavala, testing DIY rain-proof gear and shooting invertebrates.

I spent the last weekend at Lonavala with my close friend Abhijeet Jayavant at his family home in Lonavala. The house is some 600 feet farther up than the main town, on the road to Aamby valley. Thankfully, this also means that it's in a near-pristine location, far-removed from the madness at, say, Bushi dam, where people seem to almost take pleasure in littering and driving on the wrong side of the road.

The monsoon hasn't exactly been intense this year, with sporadic showers between long spells of sunshine. June had a few good downpours, but July has been almost entirely bone-dry.
I was thus hoping to find and photograph bees there for my pollinator project, but as luck would have it, the weather literally put a dampener on my plans. Had we made the trip a week prior, I might've had a little more luck.
When the skies darkened in Mumbai, I knew it'd be pouring in Lonavala, so I took the opportunity to test a do-it-yourself raincoat for my camera.
The road trip itself was mostly uneventful, but we hit some serious fog on the last leg of our journey to Abhijeet's house.

There's an eerie serenity that the mist brings along with it: it forces you to slow down even if you don't want to.

There's an eerie serenity that the mist brings along with it: it forces you to slow down even if you don't want to.

Tata Safari's do well off-road. Dopey dogs named Oliver that stick their heads out of the window? Remains to be seen.

Tata Safari's do well off-road. Dopey dogs named Oliver that stick their heads out of the window? Remains to be seen.

Once we got to his house, we ventured out almost immediately. Immediately after I'd weather-proofed my camera. And  after two beers and a rum 'n coke.

Now, I've seen a lot of protective gear for cameras. Short of the underwater housings that cost as much as a camera body, I haven't found any of it to be worth the money one spends on it.
If anybody has recommendations, please feel free to post a few in the comments, but I prefer a DIY low-tech approach. Mostly because I'm a cheap bastard.
Haha, just kidding. I'm a photographer. 
We're all cheap bastards.
With that in mind, transparent shower caps and elastic bands seem to work well. The downside is that you can't change lenses once the camera is in it's shower-cap-nappy, and using command dials can be a little tricky. Not that you can change lenses during a downpour with other kinds of protective gear anyway, but I kept wanting to switch to the wide-angle lens that I'd brought along with me but rarely used it.

The upside, of course, is that it's cheap and effective.

Note to folks who might want to try this (or people who've had two beers before attempting to do so): when using a radio trigger and a flash, make sure that the trigger is secured on your camera's hotshoe and that it is triggering the flash before you start wrapping the camera up in a shower cap. Removing the shower caps and re-securing them with the bands is a bit of a chore.

Anyway, here's the camera and flash with their plastic nappies:

D90 + 90mm/2.8 Tamron + SB-24 + Digitek radio trigger, all wrapped up in shower caps and elastic bands.

D90 + 90mm/2.8 Tamron + SB-24 + Digitek radio trigger, all wrapped up in shower caps and elastic bands.

Once that was done, we were all set to go shooting six-legged critters. I knew I wasn't going to find bees: it was either continuously drizzling or pouring like crazy, and bees don't venture out in the rain.

But the makeshift protection proved to work and I did manage to get a few good photos of some other arthropods:

The freshwater crab population (expectedly) explodes during the monsoons.

The freshwater crab population (expectedly) explodes during the monsoons.

Some common field grasshoppers are almost impossible to spot.

Some common field grasshoppers are almost impossible to spot.

Close-up

Close-up

This shield bug seems to have a heart. Or two, even.

This shield bug seems to have a heart. Or two, even.

gastropod
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Threat display: when sensing danger, some crabs will try to make themselves look bigger. "I'm a big crab, ya better be careful!"

Threat display: when sensing danger, some crabs will try to make themselves look bigger. "I'm a big crab, ya better be careful!"

But when that doesn't work, they'll run to the nearest crevice. This crevice proved to be a tad too small for this fatty.

But when that doesn't work, they'll run to the nearest crevice. This crevice proved to be a tad too small for this fatty.

This was by far the largest crab that Abhijeet and i managed to find. He was happily traipsing along in the forest until we interrupted his sojourn. Surprisingly, soon after this shot, he pulled a disappearing act on us.

This was by far the largest crab that Abhijeet and i managed to find. He was happily traipsing along in the forest until we interrupted his sojourn. Surprisingly, soon after this shot, he pulled a disappearing act on us.

An uninhabited web.

An uninhabited web.

My partner in crime, Abhijeet Jayavant. He helped a lot with holding the flash for a lot of the above photos, and supplying a handy bottle of rum 'n coke when needed.

My partner in crime, Abhijeet Jayavant. He helped a lot with holding the flash for a lot of the above photos, and supplying a handy bottle of rum 'n coke when needed.

Abhijeet and Oliver. Often affectionately called Dopey (the dog, not Abhijeet).

Abhijeet and Oliver. Often affectionately called Dopey (the dog, not Abhijeet).