In North America it’s winter. That means cold. Don’t let that stop you from making photographs. Just prepare.
The first thing to make sure you do is prepare your body for the cold. This means dressing in lots of layers, great gloves, great boots, think, wool socks, and some good old technology thrown in to boot.
We prefer breathable clothing that helps disperse moisture. Wicking material will keep you dry and warm. Don’t cheap out here. Go to REI or some other outdoor store and ask for the best you can afford. It makes a real difference if you have good quality clothing.
Also, while you’re there pick up some chemical packs (hand warmers) to put inside your gloves and even your boots. Better yet, consider rechargeable heated gloves.We use the Volts and they work pretty well. Good warm boots are a must as is long underwear.
For our face and head we like to use balaclava-style face masks with a knit cap on top and in really cold climates, we’ll even use a hood to boot.
If you want to make photos in winter you will need to practice good battery management. The best cameras are weather resistant and will operate in brutally cold temps, but the batteries are always the weak link. We use a ratio of five-to-one, meaning where we would use one battery we bring five in winter. The batteries expire much more quickly under cold temps. One thing you can do to help keep them charged a little longer is keep them under your shirt, close to your body. This warms up the battery and makes it last a bit longer.
Tripods are also something to think about. Grabbing an ice cold tripod in the dead of winter makes it uncomfortable to carry. Just wrap some material (or foam) around the top of the legs to make tripod handling easier. We often just use traditional pipe fitter’s insulation. It’s widely available.
Also note some tripods come with spikes or snowshoes that make them easier to use in winter. We also like to use a tripod case or strap to make carrying the tripod easier in the cold.
One of the biggest problems with winter (in so far as the making a good exposure thing goes) is that snow can fool even advanced camera meters. Remember a camera meter’s job is to make everything the camera sees 18% gray. That means your white snow will turn out drab gray in your photos unless you compensate for that when you pick an exposure. Adding a stop and a half (even two stops depending on the scene) is often just about right for making the snow white again. Practice using your camera’s exposure compensation dial to get this figured out BEFORE you go shooting. Your camera manual will explain this feature and it’s something you should understand no matter the season.
Photography in the winter can be especially rewarding because weather events often make for great images. Dress appropriately, be prepared and get off the couch and go shooting.
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