In honor of this cold weather that’s swept the nation I wanted to share a few tips on shooting in cold weather.
• Batteries- Simply put, they drain faster in cold weather than in warm weather. The modern lithium-ion batteries do a pretty good job unless it’s extremely cold. In that case they can can be reduced to 50% or more. A great way to keep them from draining so fast is to keep them warm in your pockets while you’re out shooting or over night in your sleeping bag with you. Keep this in mind if your using an external flash. Those batteries need to stay warm too. It never hurts to have a couple of back ups to help compensate for the extra drain on your batteries.
• Pick up a pack of hand warmers. I never used these until I moved down to Austin, Texas which is strange since I used to live in the northeast. I guess the warm weather down here has made me a bit of a wimp when it comes to cooler temps. Anyways, when your out shooting in the cold for more than 6 hours at a time the warmers make a big difference in my comfort. Of course your hands are out on your camera most of the time but when your moving around in between shots it’s nice to get your hands warmed up in your pockets if even for a moment.
• Lens Fogging – If your shooting in the cold you’ll face your lens fogging up with condensation at some point or another. Essentially condensation is water forming on surfaces that are significantly colder or warmer than the air surrounding it. So this means that if your camera goes into a cold air area and the camera is warmer than the dew point, condensation can form. The opposite is also true. So this typically happens to me from being in a warm car on the way to the shoot and then hoping out of the car on a crazy cold day. What I do to combat this from making me wait around until my lens stops fogging up is take my camera out of my bag and toss it around my neck right away. That way it has a chance to start coming to temperature while I’m getting to the location I am going to be shooting at. I also keep my camera in the coldest part of my vehicle which for me is in the back. If I had a trunk that would be where it would be. I also arrive at my shoots with plenty of time to spare so my vehicle is pretty cool by the time I’m getting out. That’s one of the many advantages to being punctual. The next little tip is also very helpful for this condensation issue.
• Condensation/Lens Fogging- After shooting in the cold you’re not going to want to take your camera straight into a warm building or tent. You’re going to want to give it some time to acclimatize to the warmer interior. While you’re still out in the cold seal your camera in an airtight bag before taking it in. This way, any condensation will form on the bag instead of the camera as the air and camera gradually equalize to the new environment. It’s also a good idea to keep it in the coolest part of the building you’re going into like by a window or even better if there’s a vestibule. Two hours should be plenty of time for your gear to warm up gradually. Don’t forget to take your camera cards out of the body before you place it in the bag if you need to upload them right away.
I hope some of these tips are helpful. In the meantime I’ll be dreaming of warmer weather.
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