Photographing with a cold weather is a challenge for a photographer and photo equipment (11.01.2016)
Finally we are seeing weather conditions that correspond to our latitude. The ground is covered with snow and it is freezing. No-one knows how long we are going to have this kind of weather. That is why, it is reasonable to take advantage of this moment and take same winter photos.
Let’s start with the most important thing – what happens to the technology? One of the main problems is definitely the decreasing battery capacity. That is why; it is worth to take along an extra battery that you should keep in warm, for example in the inside pocket of your jacket. A frozen battery can also enable to capture quite some photos after is it warmed again.
If there is -20 degrees and less, the brightness is also decreasing notably and when setting exposure you should rather trust the histogram than the monitor. The symbols on the display might also become difficult to see.
I definitely don’t recommend warming you camera inside of your jacket when you are having a break from photographing. There might be something like +30 degrees inside your jacket and it is quite humid. But when it is -20 degrees outside, the difference of temperatures is about 50 degrees. This kind of fluctuation of cold and warm makes the moisture to condense and then freeze on the camera surface and inside and this can be very bad for the camera. If you are not taking photos at the moment, you should keep your camera in the camera bag. It is important to keep in mind that when you go into a warm car or room, then the camera that has cooled down due to the outside temperature should be placed in the camera bag and the bag should be closed. If you wish, you can take the memory card out first so that you can upload the photos into the computer and you can also take away the battery that may need charging. If you step into a warm room wearing your camera around your neck, the humidity immediately freezes on the surface and inside of the camera. And later, when it starts to melt there will be water drops on the optics and electronic devices and this could totally ruin the expensive technology. The camera bag is like a thermos, it you place your camera there, it warms up slowly and there won’t be any problems. You should also keep silica gel package in the camera bag that helps to bind the moisture.
Photographer’s clothing is also important in these weather conditions. It should be warm and windproof but it should also be breathable so that the moisture that allocates from the body is led away from the body. Layered clothing is suitable and today’s technological fabrics that are used to make clothes for hikers, huntsmen and people who work outdoors.
But being a photographer means that sometimes you need to have longer stops and then, it is not that easy to keep warm. That is why; you need to think about footwear with a special care. When you stand still, it is usually the wrong choice of footwear that makes people feel cold. The socks inside the footwear need to be dry and thick enough. It is not good when the hiking boots are too tight because then there is no point in wearing warm socks. You should not forget that the small air spaces in clothing and footwear are an important part of keeping warm. Keep in mind that the material of boot soles would be of good quality – they should not be slippery because that would be dangerous for you and for you equipment. Another important matter is the gloves. You need to press the buttons of the camera and your fingers are going to be cold very soon. You need to have gloves and in addition, you should have mittens that you can put on top of the gloves or you should have mitts that have a special mittens part to cover the fingertips when possible You should also use a wide scarf or collar that you can use to cover mouth and nose. One other problem is that in the winter, your breath freezes on the camera diopter and screen. This kind of face cover solves this problem and your nose is also kept warm. You should also not forget a warm hat.
Another tip – it is also important to keep warm in the inside. A hot drink in a thermos is very effective. Alcohol is also something that is sometimes recommended. True, alcohol makes you feel warm inside but this is deceptive. While consuming alcohol, the blood vessels widen and your body gives away more warmth. Thus, consuming alcohol is not recommended in harsh winter conditions and this might even have an opposite effect and it can be dangerous!
To sum up:
When photographing in winter conditions you should have:
A proper camera bag with a zipper
Charged battery and an additional battery that is kept warm inside of your jacket
Warm clothing, footwear and gloves
A thermos with a hot drink inside