Home How-To Tip Of The Week Winter Weather Protection—01/11/10
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Weather Protection—01/11/10

Tips for shooting in colder climates

This Article Features Photo Zoom

No matter how foul the weather might get, sometimes you just need to get out there and shoot. But photographing outside in the elements in the heart of winter takes special precautions. Preventing snow, rain and cold temperatures from ruining your gear—as well as your fingers and toes—requires extra attention.

1. First and foremost, protect yourself. If you’re not warm and dry, you won’t be able to keep your gear warm and dry either. So make sure to dress appropriately for the environment in which you’ll be working. Thick-soled boots, insulated coat, moisture-wicking layers and, of course, warm mittens or gloves for your hands. Some photographers are afraid that mittens or gloves won’t allow them to fine tune cameras and lenses. They should wear a pair of thin silk gloves inside heavier, bulkier mittens, or investigate convertible mittens that open to reveal fingerless gloves for fine motor needs without sacrificing total warmth where you need it most. Lighter gloves that have rubber on the palms and fingers, like Photo Gloves from LowePro, make fine adjustments possible without removing gloves in the first place.

2. Having protected yourself from the elements, turn to your gear. Stowing cameras, lenses and accessories in waterproof/weatherproof bags and packs is an ideal first start. But beyond such technologically advanced protection, simple things like resealable plastic bags do wonders to keep moisture out, too. Extras can come in very handy for gear, or even feet and hands. And when you return indoors from an outdoor adventure, be sure to allow your gear to return to room temperature slowly from inside of a sealed plastic bag placed inside a camera bag to avoid condensation forming on expensive electronic equipment.

3. What about protecting your camera when you’re actually shooting with it? Rather than just poking a hole in a trash bag or shielding your gear with a hat or umbrella, invest in protection that keeps rain and moisture out but allows you to keep shooting. Better than improvised protection, consider a custom rain cover that seals around the lens barrel so you can shoot even in a downpour without ruining your gear.

4. Ever notice how cold metal gets outside in the winter? Ever notice that many tripods are metal too? You can invest in something a little less conductive of heat and cold—like carbon-fiber tripod legs—or you can wrap the legs of your tripod in foam padding or tape. Anything that takes the edge off the bitter cold will make it not only easier when it comes time to work with your tripod in the cold, but it’ll make it bearable to carry cold steel without freezing your hands. As an added bonus, pads and wraps like those from OP/TECH USA make tripods more comfortable in warm weather too.

5. Batteries don’t work well when the temperature drops toward freezing, so it’s important to keep them as warm as possible to maximize your shooting time. Carrying a battery close to the skin—say the front pocket of your jeans, perhaps, or the inside breast pocket of a coat—is an ideal way to keep a crucial battery warm. For a little extra heat that your body won’t mind either, consider using a chemical pocket warmer to keep batteries, and your body, nice and toasty. Some even affix via wristbands to warm the blood as it moves through your hands, helping to keep your hands and fingers warm in the process.

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