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A Guide to Cold Weather Photography

With the changing seasons, nature gives us more opportunities to create and explore as a photographer. While some photographers give up after the harsh cold sets in, for some it is a fortuitous time to be out in the open serene blanket of snow under the beautiful gray skies, the crisp leaves crunching under your feet, with a camera in hand. Sure braving the elements is a tough nut to crack, since we are not adapted to the cold weather and neither is our gear. Think of an excursion to the Yellowstone and Tetons, it is a piece of cake to find beauty in the wildlife and landscape in the summers. However, the same can be touted of the winters, only with a few changes peppered in. Here’s how you can make sure you don’t miss out on the utter exquisiteness of cold weather and encapsulate it in a photograph.

Cameras and Cold Weather

While this element can be overlooked the most, battery life is one of the biggest dilemmas at hand in the frost, since it can be diminished to half or less. Keep 2-3 spare batteries when going out and keep them close to your body to keep them warm. In addition, obtain a top-notch lens cover to keep out the moisture. Another annoying occurrence is a fogged up lens due to a dramatic change in temperature. To avert this nuisance, allow your lens to acclimate to the ambient temps that you would be shooting in. In addition, carry your camera in a zipper lock bag or a camera bag to avoid condensation on the lens. There is nothing worse than taking pictures of a leaping herd of elks, only to have your lens fog on the outside at the exact moment.

Setting up the gear

In such cold spells, simple tasks such as setting up your tripod can be extremely arduous and painstaking. A tripod equipped with big locking knobs that can be tightened even if you have mitts on, is utterly indispensable. Before setting your tripod down in the snow, make sure that is stable. Even if the snow seems steady, the tripod can still sink when you add the weight of the camera. On the other hand, if you need to set on solid ice, you can attach spiked points to your tripod legs to replace the rubber pads. The stability can improve dramatically by hanging a weighted object to the center hook on the tripod. Tripods can even blow off in winter gales; better safe than sorry!

Controlling the Exposure

White balance and exposure compensation is imperative when photographing in the winter. Sure, some of it can be adjusted in the post processing, your goal should be to get as close to perfection as you can in your camera. In addition, you can set a custom white balance as well, or even set a mood with white balance by incorporating cool or warm tones carefully. A UV filter us also ideal for clearing up traces of haze in pictures and minimizing blue cast, which is more common when shooting at high altitudes and in cold temperatures. Another benefit of UV filter in snowy climates photography is that it protects your lens from snow.

Wear Gloves

Not only do gloves keep your hands toasty, they also allow you the dexterity to maneuver your camera’s control. There are even gloves that have removable fingertips that are diligently designed to allow you to operate your camera’s shutter release, buttons, and control gloves effectively. You don’t want to give yourself frost bites in the process, do you?

January 9, 2017

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