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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How To Protect Your Gear in the Rain.
This is a topic I’m asked about from time to time. When you’re a working photographer that doesn’t solely work in a studio you’re bound to end up in wet conditions with gear that’s not designed to be there with you. So what are you going to do? Luckily I live in a part of the country that boasts close to 300 days of sunshine so I don’t often come across this scenario but when I do this is how I handle it:
-Use your lens hood to help keep the falling rain off the front of the lens. As long as you’re aiming the lens straight or downward this does a decent job. I use my lens hood all the time anyways to help protect the front element from getting scratched as it gets bumped around.
-Use a rain cover for your bag. My F-Stop Gear bag cover saved me during the Cyclocross Nationals as I wanted a couple of extra lenses and batteries on hand but was standing in the rain for hours. That gear (and snacks) would have been ruined if it wasn’t for that cover. If your camera bag doesn’t come with a cover no worries you can buy one through Amazon or B&H for $5-$20. They fold up and stash in most bags pretty easily while not in use.
-Use a rain jacket for your camera and lens. If you’re shooting with either Nikon or Canon and don’t mind spending a bit of money you have to go with the THINK TANK PHOTO Hydrophobia Rain Cover. If you know you’re going to be standing out in a down pour for a few hours shooting, it’s worth the money. I shoot all Sony and like with most awesome things for cameras, they don’t make a version that works with my camera bodies. So what I use is anOP/TECH USA $3.25 rain sleeve. It does the job and I like the price. The bonus with this cheap option is it’s small enough to have stashed in my bag at all times unlike the Think Tank cover which is too big for me to keep on hand for a little bit of rain or a chance of rain.
-The last thing, which most people don’t think about, is keeping those little pouches of silica gel in your bag. They’re used to capture moister and help keep things dry.
So that’s just what I do though there’s tons of options out there to use. The main takeaway is, we have options to stay out there and shoot in the elements which gives us a different and sometimes more unique image.