winter is here, and we need to learn how to properly cope with the challenges that come along with it. Whether you are a city photographer or small town commercial photographer, the Cold weather will place demands on our gear as well as our bodies and the subjects you are photographing. I have lived in cold weather country my whole life and with a few simple tips and tricks, you can easily have a successful outdoor winter photo session. I will start with the gear. Gear: Batteries - Cold weather will quickly drain the power from your power source. Always keep a couple of spare camera batteries in a pocket close to your body keeping them away from the cold air. Battery packs place an insulating layer under them if they are placed on the cold ground. This layer can be a simple piece of cardboard or small section of foam core board. Camera and Strobes - Allow the gear time to acclimate to the ambient temperature and start your modeling light off at a lower power and let them warm up before increasing the poser to working levels. Your camera will get to temperature rather quickly and most modern day DSLR type cameras and lenses will operate normally at temperatures in the low single digits. I would always recommend taking your camera gear out for a walk with you and make sure all the controls you typically use function properly in the cold. I have a shooting partner who has a camera that will not allow back button focus when the air temperature is in the mid-twenties. He can shoot for about 30 minutes and then has to let that camera warm back up. Tripods - When handling them the legs can become very cold making them uncomfortable to hold. I have not seen it but I have heard that some carbon fiber can become brittle and under stress and lateral forces can shatter. Camera bags and hard cases - Buckles and become clogged with snow and ice making them hard if not impossible to close. Placing bags on a waterproof ground cloth will help keep them dry and ice-free. Hard cases can easily become a sled sliding away from your reach, so make sure these hard cases are on level ground and secured before letting them go. Plastic storage bag - After a day of work out in the cold air, I always remove my media cards and place them in a cardholder in a pocket. The large plastic bag (Ziplock Jumbo) is used to keep condensation from forming on your camera when the gear is back at the warm studio. If you bring cold gear into a warm room condensation will form on the camera, keeping the camera in a closed plastic bag will prevent the formation of condensation.
Your Body Hat and Gloves - Studies back in the 1950's stated that we lose as much as 50% of our body heat through our heads, back in 2008 this theory was revisited and the actual amount of heat loss through the head is the same as any other skin surface Link to study information More important in cold weather a hat and gloves will make you feel warmer and when you are comfortable you can
work more efficiently. Gloves Find yourself a pair of cross-country ski gloves, most have a leather palm and fingers providing extra grip and the ability to use most of the controls on your gear without removing the gloves. These gloves are also insulated and windproof. Synthetic base layer - Whenever I will be out in cold weather I always wear a base layer of long underwear, most of the time a thin layer is all you will need to help make your day more comfortable. Knee Pads - Have you ever dropped to your knee to get the shot and land on a small rock, well it sure hurts, and can make your eyes water. I always have a knee pad on my right leg, find out what knee you usually put down to the ground and wear a knee pad for increased comfort when shooting while kneeling. I get some inexpensive pads and since I only use one pad at a time I usually get a year or so use out of an inexpensive pair of the knee pads. Knee pads also keep your pants dry if you have to kneel in the snow.