4 Critical Tips for Shooting in Extreme Cold

by admin December 20, 2016 at 12:07 pm

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I know that for a lot of people, the cold keeps them inside, but it can be really rewarding to go out in the bitter cold. Tonight I got the bug to go out and shoot, but the air temp was -15°F (-26°C), with a windchill of -30°F (-34°C).

Here are a few reflections:

1. Bundle up. It’s really not optional. In temperatures like this, you can get frostbite in a shockingly fast time (less than half an hour). It’s not worth losing body parts for any photo.

Tonight, I wore heavy boots, snow pants, a heavy jacket, face mask, ski goggles, a hat, and two pairs of gloves. I also tucked hand warmers into my gloves, which really helped with the cold. Sure, it’s a lot of gear, but I was comfortable for over an hour outside.

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2. Set up as much as possible indoors. You want to make the most of your time outside, so fiddling with lenses or tripod plates is a waste of time. Assemble everything you can indoors. I even guessed on some exposure values, so I could set my exposure before going out.

3. Keep in mind that your batteries will last far less time. I used a battery grip to double my capacity, and even then my camera went through a good chunk of its power in just over an hour. If you are carrying extra batteries, do what you can to keep them warm.

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4. Don’t breath anywhere near your lens. If you do, your breath will condense, or even freeze on the lens, and won’t evaporate. This (above) is what the back of my camera looked like after I wrapped up. It may be hard to tell, but there is a ton of ice that has formed on the back.

Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but IMO it was worth it. Often, you only get clear skies on the coldest nights, and that gives some cool opportunities for snowy landscapes with stars. It’s not my favorite shot ever, but I like the way this one came out:

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About the Author: Evan Pak is a college student and photographer in the Northfield, MN area, specializing in portraits and nature photography. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook page, and Instagram. This post was also published here.

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