As we get deeper into the fall season and closer to winter (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), some of us tend to venture out less and keep our cameras tucked in their bags. But cold weather is no reason to retreat from taking pictures. For lots of pros and enthusiasts, now is the perfect time to capture snowy landscapes with no footprints, view wildlife with fewer crowds and compose beautiful shots of ice-covered branches.
We asked three of our pro photographer friends to share their cold-weather photography tips. One makes the High Sierras her home. One lives under the coastal fog of Sonoma County, California. And one lives in the subarctic climate of Anchorage, Alaska.
Award-winning landscape photographer Elizabeth Carmel shares a simple and practical tip to help prevent battery drain. “Cold weather can quickly drain batteries, so I always keep extra batteries in a pocket underneath an overcoat so body heat keeps them warm and at the best temperature. Sometimes a dead battery will come back to life after it has warmed up a bit.”
Lowepro evangelist and founder of The Digital Story, Derrick Story trusts a Ziploc® bag to keep his gear protected and dry. “During cold weather, make sure you have at least one Ziploc bag in your camera case. Not only are they useful for protecting your equipment in the rain, but they help with condensation too.
Bringing a camera in from the cold weather to a warm house promotes condensation forming on the outside of its body, possibly migrating to the inside of the camera where it can confound electrical components. To prevent this mishap, place your camera in a Ziploc bag before coming inside. Leave the camera in the sealed bag until it reaches room temperature. The condensation will collect on the bag, not your camera, thereby protecting your investment.”
Adventure, travel and location photographer Dan Bailey gives good advice on keeping extremities covered and planning ahead – with a very fun self-portrait to make his point! “Cold weather makes everything more difficult. You just feel more clumsy in your bulky jackets, hats, mittens and gloves, and even the smallest tasks, like manipulating camera controls, become frustrating awkward. Your choices are often either bulky gloves and mittens or bare frozen fingers that have gone numb. Having spent many occasions painfully warming up my hands, I usually go with thin to medium thickness gloves and hand warmer packs. To get around the awkwardness, try to preset the camera controls and exposure so that you’ll spend minimal time trying to fiddle with buttons and menus.
Also, watch bare noses and cheeks on ice cold metal and plastic camera bodies when it’s really cold. We’re talking around zero and below. Believe me, it’s possible to nip the end of your nose when you press your face up to the back of the camera. Wear a face mask if you can, or hold your face slightly away from the back of the camerawhen you shoot photos, and you might even save some skin!”