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It's Winter ... Again!

It seems like it's that time of year again when a few tips for shooting in the cold can come in handy. Last winter, I covered a number of points, but here are a few more to consider before you run out to play in the snow:

  • Be careful not to drop anything in the snow. Cleaning it off can be quite time consuming.
  • Even if you prefer prime lenses for most uses, seriously consider using a zoom in winter to avoid having to change lenses as frequently. Getting blowing snow in your camera will make your day a lot less enjoyable.
  • If your batteries seem to be dead, don't throw them out too quickly. You may find that they do indeed have life left once they warm up again. Simply change to another set and save the ones you were using for later re-use when the new ones get too cold also. This is less of a problem with lithium, but can be a major problem with other battery types.
  • Dress in layers and try to avoid cotton. At least for me, shooting consists of periods where I'm quite active alternating with periods where I'm predominantly just standing there. Cotton will absorb your sweat and hold it which could cause you to get chilled when your activity level lessens. Hypothermia can be a serious danger, even in only moderately cold weather.
  • Don't forget to drink enough liquid. When it's not hot out and you're focused on what you're doing, becoming dehydrated can be a real concern for some.
  • Consider placing your camera inside a plastic bag with the air removed before taking your gear inside when you're done for the day. This will allow condensation to collect on the outside of the bag, not on your lens. You might also consider just leaving your gear in the car overnight to avoid the condensation issue completely.
  • Condensation can also be an issue if you put your camera under your coat between periods of shooting. When you take it back out into the cold, any moisture in the air inside the camera can condense on your film. This can result in problems anywhere from spots on your images, to torn film.
  • Even if it's not cold enough for your breath to freeze, breathing on your lenses can still cause condensation. Instead, use a simple blower brush if you need to clean dust (or snow) off of your lenses.
  • In extreme cold, you may find that the film does not rewind correctly with a power winder. Static buildup can result in sticking or breakage of the film. Don't worry too much, but be aware that this is possible. If your camera does not seem to have rewound correctly, don't open the back until you get it into a dark space where remedy things. If your camera allows you to rewind by hand, do so with a slow, even motion. It takes very cold, dry conditions before this is a problem, so don't worry unduly.
  • If your camera starts to act up in cold weather, don't panic. Simply warm it up and the problem is likely to go away. Internal contacts can freeze, but they will also thaw quickly.

Date posted: December 22, 2002


Copyright © 2002 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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Related articles:
It's Winter!
Keeping Your Hands Warm While Shooting
Neither Snow, nor Rain, nor Gloom of Night

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