Editor: This is an updated post from Scott Bourne.  It seems perfectly timely for the season ahead.

If you want to photograph wildlife (or any subject outdoors) pay attention to these winter considerations:

Snow can cause your camera’s meter to register an improper exposure by fooling the camera into thinking there is more light than there really is. A simple way to avoid this is to fill the frame with the animal or use your camera’s spot meter to make sure you are reading only the light that is striking the animal, not the light that is striking the surrounding areas. See the exposure section if you need a brush up on metering non-medium tones.

Cold weather can also affect your gear. Cold weather shortens battery life. It’s a good idea to keep your spare batteries in a pocket close to your body. Often, if a battery runs low, warming it up will help restore it. Some photographers have actually taped chemical hand warmers to the outside of their cameras over the battery compartment.

Photographing in winter can be a joy, but you need to protect yourself and stay warm. I recommend layering appropriate clothing. That means synthetics or wool instead of cotton. Always have a hat available too.

It’s hard to change film or settings on your camera with frozen fingertips. Glove liners, fingerless gloves, and hand warmers are a few strategies for keeping your hands operating. One product that Rod really likes is the ThermaBand by Crazy Creek. The ThermaBand is a wrist strap made of polar fleece material. It has a pocket that holds a chemical hand-warmer against the wrist, which, according to Crazy Creek, “prevents the radial and ulnar arteries from constricting, increasing blood flow, keeping hands and fingers warmer.” With the ThermaBand, you can wear lightweight gloves or the fingerless flip top mitten gloves. When you do expose your fingers, they stay warm and workable. The hand warmer packets typically last up to seven hours, which, in the winter, means all day.

If your feet are uncomfortably cold or numb, you’re not going to be thinking about making your best photos. You’re going to be thinking that your feet are uncomfortably cold or numb. Combat this problem with chemical toe warmers and insulated boots.

To keep the rest of you going, have some high-energy food snacks in your pocket too.

If you use your head before going out in the cold, the rest of your body will remain comfortable, and you’ll be able to concentrate on your photography.


This Post Sponsored by:

Adobe Photoshop CC and Lightroom for US$9.99/mo. Limited-time offer for Photoshop CS3 and later customers. Get it here. Be sure to also check out the Video for Photographers learning center.

The HDR Learning Center Check out new ways to use High Dynamic Range photography to make compelling images. Free tutorials and posts to get results. Produced in partnership with HDRsoft.

Mosaic A complete solution for photographers using Lightroom who want to manage and share their photos. You can easily view images with their iOS app or web service. Plus your photos are backed up to the cloud with several plans to match your needs.

lynda.com Learn photography anytime, anywhere, and at your own pace—from bite-sized tutorials to comprehensive courses. Try lynda.com free for 10 days by visiting lynda.com/ Photofocus.

The Topaz Labs Image Enhancement bundle. Open up a world of creative possibilities with a seamless, integrated workflow. You don’t need to be a Photoshop wizard to look like one. Click here and use the code photofocus to get a 15% discount.

Join the conversation! 8 Comments

  1. … and below 10c. acclimatizing your camera before you go out, before getting back in double bagging your camera and lenses to void fogging, moisture etc. and keeping them bagged for hours to get them slowly back to normal. Its minus 21c where I am… Ottawa, Canada (very low for this season).

  2. Great advice especially for someone like me who doesn’t live in the snow.

  3. Thx:) ANd by the way a very great shot of theese birds;)

  4. Is there a danger of damaging the camera electronic due to static electricity generated on the wool or synthetic clothing?

    One tip for people with diabetes. Insulin needs to be kept between 15-25 degrees Celsius. Plan accordingly.

  5. I battle the extreme cold for many months of the year on the Mongolian mountain steppe, and have noted a few things that work for me when I make images.

    It sounds trite, but adjust your camera setting before you leave shelter to as close to what you estimate your ideal settings to be. Minor adjustments will still be required, but the time your hands will be exposed will be minimized.

    Gloves and photography don’t easily work for me. My heavy winter coat (made in Mongolia) has longer than average sleeves. This may be an accidental “artifact” stemming from the traditional long sleeved robe or “deel” worn by herders during winter, but it really works. I can easily make minor adjustments to my gear, and then pull my my hands out of the cold without risking frost bite.

    As the article states, well designed outdoor clothing are essential, but don’t forget head and neck protection, which for me are the first parts of the body attacked by extreme cold. I wear a fur cap and a long cashmere scarf.


Let us know your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Cinematography, Landscape, Photography, Shooting, Shooting, Wildlife