Again, I owe this tip to Larry and Larraine Coplin, who have supplied a few other great tips to us in previous months. If you photograph in the desert you may occasionally get bump into prickly pear cactus. Besides the large spines common to almost all cacti, prickly pear also have fine, nearly invisible hair-like spines that have a wonderful proclivity for attaching to tripod pads. If you use Laird tripod pads, or simply wrap your tripod legs in pipe insulation foam, you may get these fine spines into the coverings. Although the spines might be a nuisance in this way, it's worse, for the spines also seem to stick sharply from the back end too. So, trying to hold onto a tripod with tiny, invisible spines sticking out becomes quite uncomfortable, and the spines can be so numerous that trying to pick them out seems impossible.
A friend of our's gave us a book on the virtues of duct tape, listing 100 or 1,000 uses for this indispensible product. This month's tip wasn't in that book but it illustrates still another use for duct tape -- it removes cactus spines! If you have spines, stick duct tape over the injured area. The spines will stick to the tape and, when pulled off, the spines will be drawn out and removed! Years ago, while several of us surrounded a prickly pear cactus to film lynx spiders, three of us got zapped by cactus spines which resulted in our discarding and tossing whatever tripod covers we were using. I wish I had known about that tip then!
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