Is you camera collecting dust on the shelf because it’s too cold out to shoot? Winter presents numerous hazards to any would-be photographer. For one, you risk freezing your fingers just to get the shot, and before you know it, your batteries are dead. If you haven’t taken that many great images this winter, I don’t blame you. But with the techniques you’re about to learn, you’ll want to grab your camera and get out there every time it snows. I’ll show you why.
How to cure cold hands
Photographers often leave their hands exposed because they need to control the settings on their camera. Heavy gloves are warm, but it’s impossible to press buttons while wearing them. So what’s the solution? Are photographers doomed to always have cold hands? Not if they’re prepared.
You should be wearing three layers of gloves if you want to be comfortable out on a wintry photo shoot. Your first layer should be a pair of silk or nylon gloves that are thin enough to give you full control over your camera without taking them off. This layer doesn’t provide much protection, but it’s better than nothing, and it certainly helps when you’re standing in the cold for hours on end.
Your second gloves should be a simple pair of mittens with the fingertips cut off. You should be able to control most of your camera’s settings while wearing them. If they’re too bulky, you’ll just end up taking them off when you need to shoot. And finally, your third layer should be a pair of heavy mittens that you’ll wear whenever you aren’t taking photos.
Gloves are certainly helpful for preventing frostbite on your fingers, but moving around is even better. Try to setup your shoot so you don’t spend a bunch of time standing in one place. Ideally, you should setup your camera, get the shots you need, and get out of there. It doesn’t matter what you’re wearing. Standing around will make you cold (unless you do a bunch of jumping jacks to the point of exhaustion. Then you ought to be fine).
Keep your batteries warm and they’ll stay charged
It goes without saying that if you leave your camera in your car overnight, it probably won’t work in the morning. Batteries can lose their charge pretty fast when you expose them to the elements. To keep your batteries working long enough to get the shot, you need to charge them every time you get back from your winter shoot. Store them at room temperature. Otherwise, you're just asking for it.
When you’re out shooting, you should always carry a few spare batteries. Keep these in your breast pocket. The closer to your heart, the better. Your body is always working to keep your core temperature high. That’s the reason your hands are cold in the first place. When your overall body temperature drops, your body reduces its blood supply to your extremities in an effort to keep your core warm.
Batteries will sometimes appear to have no charge, but when you change them out and place the supposedly dead battery in your breast pocket, miracles start happening. When in doubt, switch it out and try it again later.
Be aware of condensation inside and outside of your camera
Whenever you take your camera from a cold environment to a warmer one, condensation will form all over it. Condensation is more than a simple inconvenience. When it gets inside of your camera, it can ruin the electronics and cause permanent damage.
To remedy this, place your camera inside of a freezer bag of some kind. Ziploc freezer bags do the job, but there are a bunch of other brands that work as well. Place the camera into the freezer bag whenever you are about to go from a cold environment to a warmer one. Once back inside (it’s usually warmer inside during the winter months), wait until the outside of the bag is completely dry before you remove your camera. This can sometimes take more than an hour, so be patient.
You don’t need to do the same when moving from a warm environment to a colder one. Just don’t forget to bring your freezer bags.
With these three tips, you shouldn’t have to worry about venturing out in the cold to get some fantastic winter wonderland images.
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