Yep it’s cold – well it’s cold most places. I am lucky to be in Vegas where it’s been in the mid 60s but I saw the national weather forecast and it’s cold. It will also be cold in Alaska where I’ll be this time next month. So I thought it might be a good time to break out some cold weather photography tips.
1. Battery – Battery – Battery
In the cold weather your super cool and modern camera battery will not provide the power you’re used to having in the summer. The colder it gets, the worse your battery performance will be. The cure? Bring more batteries. But another tip I use is I keep my batteries inside my shirt (in a travel wallet strapped to my body) where my body heat keeps the battery a bit warmer than the air temp.
2. Camera Problems
Everything from your camera body to your LCD might be impacted in cold weather – especially super cold weather. I advise everyone to open up their trusty camera manual and find out what the operating parameters are for your particular camera. If you try to use the camera in temperatures that are colder than the manufacturing tolerances, well you can probably expect problems.
3. Lenses & Condensation
Oh that warm hotel room, or apartment, or condo or car, etc. You can’t wait to get back to the warmth of your favorite respite from the cold. But hold your horses. Remember that moving your camera from -5 degrees to plus 72 can create condensation on your lens. Condensation causes mold. So that would be bad. Use an air tight bag to carry your lenses in when you are moving from extreme temps to make sure you solve this problem. No matter how you do it – just remember to let your camera warm up slowly. Also note that your lens may focus more slowly so keep it close to your body along with your battery to make sure you get the best results.
4. Use Rain Covers
Rain? Yes rain! Guess what – snow melts and when it does it turns into plain ordinary water – which can be bad for your gear. So protect it with simple rain covers to reduce the risk of water damage.
5. Don’t Forget The Photographer
You need to dress in layers when photographing in extremely cold temps. I always use two pairs of gloves. I use thin regular gloves worn under heavier gloves that have a flap you can close over the fingers. I wear a full ski mask, at least three shirts (the undershirt is always one that wicks away moisture) and I like to wear two pairs of thin socks rather than one thick pair. Don’t forget long johns and a good coat. One with a hood can help keep your head warm on top of the hat you should be wearing. I also take hand warmers and toe warmers and good, warm, insulated boots.
Cold weather photography can provide some amazing opportunities. Don’t miss those shots. Just prepare for the conditions and have fun.