Cold Weather Photography

With all of this cold weather, how can you get out and still be as comfortable as possible?  Here are some tips on keeping yourself and your gear warm and working.

Food/Water:  Staying hydrated and eating before you go out are very important for staying warm.  Having enough calories and staying hydrated helps your body to run efficiently, which translates into staying warmer.

Clothing:  Dress in layers!  Almost anyone has heard this, but it is still great advice.  When you dress in layers it gives you the option to add or subtract layers as the temperature or your activity level changes.  For example, if you are hiking to a particular photo location you can start your hike with fewer layers on.  Since you arrive at your destination at a comfortable destination without sweating you don't have to worry about all that sweat cooling down and making you cold.  Once you stop to take photos or rest you can add a couple layers to help keep you warmer.

If you tend to be cold you can also bring chemical warmers.  This time of year you can find them in outdoor stores and your local big box store.  These are convenient to put into boots, gloves and anywhere else you need a little extra help staying warm.

Batteries:  Another consideration when it is cold out is how well your batteries will perform.  Even the newer lithium batteries in most modern digital cameras will lose performance as they get cold.  If possible try to keep your batteries warm.  If you are using a compact camera you might be able to keep it in a pocket where it stays warmer, though be careful of condensation, more on that later.

Another option would be to carry extra batteries.  If your camera takes AAs it can be easy to get an extra set, even with rechargeables.  If your camera uses proprietary batteries you may have a longer battery life, but they can cost more to get extras.  If you can get at least one extra battery.  To help prolong the life in cold weather you can keep one in a pocket while you are using the other.  Then as the first drains you can switch the batteries.  There is a good chance that the depleted battery will still have some life left in it once it is warmed up. 

Cameras In The Cold:  Your camera may not do well in a blizzard, where it may get wet, which in turn can lead to buttons and dials freezing.  But if it is only cold outside you can most likely continue to use your camera below freezing.  Follow the tips above for batteries to make sure your camera has power to keep running.  Also try to keep your camera free from condensation. 

One easy cause of condensation in cold weather is changing temperatures quickly.  This is often caused by going inside from the cold or potentially the other way around.  Whenever moving from cold to hot try to keep your equipment protected from the extreme temperature change.  One easy way is to put your camera in a bag, even a trash bag, that is the same temperature.  Then when you go inside the bag will shield the camera from a quick temperature change and will allow your delicate electronics to warm up more slowly, reducing the chances of condensation forming.

Handling the Controls:  If you are taking quick snapshots you may be able to keep gloves on while shooting, especially if you try to pick out gloves that give you enough dexterity to handle the controls of your camera.  But when it gets really cold out you may want more options.  Look into fingerless gloves that have a mitten that can cover your fingers, or fold out of the way to temporarily give you more control.  Another option that works will with mittens is a remote release.  Many cameras, especially DSLRs, have the option to use a release on a short cable that you could put inside a mitten or glove, allowing you to manipulate the shutter from the warmth of your glove.

Memory:  While most memory cards shouldn't have too much difficulty in the cold weather, you may still want to plan ahead.  I like to use the higher capacity cards in cold weather to reduce the need for card changes in the middle of a photo shoot.  Each time you change cards in the cold means another opportunity to drop a card in the snow.  Digging around in a snow bank for something you dropped, especially something as small as a memory card, is not fun.

The list was not exhaustive by any means, but hopefully it gives you a few ideas on how to make your photography experience as enjoyable as possible, even in the colder weather.


Popular Posts