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Keeping Your Hands Warm While Shooting

It's getting to be that time of year again. Bear Lake at sunriseDaylight Savings ends on the 31st and the days are getting shorter. Lowepro actually sells a pair of gloves made specifically for photographers. They're also getting colder. This past week, I've been in Rocky Mountain National Park and I can tell you, dawn is cold at that elevation.

Most sane people wear gloves under such conditions to keep their fingers from freezing off. Photographers aren't always the smartest people though, or at least we have other priorities. Heavy gloves or mittens (even worse) would make it outright impossible to adjust the controls on a camera. Still, even less than sane photographers need to keep their hands warm somehow.

Lowepro actually sells a pair of gloves made specifically for photographers. They are constructed of a lightweight Dupont Thermax/Lycra material and feature rubber "control dots" across the palm and finger tip surfaces to improve your grip. Lowepro photographers gloves - potentially worth getting, but cut the fingertips offProblem is, camera controls are small enough to make operating them difficult with anything over your finger tips. They also really aren't warm enough for most fall or winter mornings.

One common solution is to wear thicker gloves without fingertips. These can be purchased from most outdoor sporting goods stores and work quite well. If you buy some, I would recommend you avoid ones made from wool since the fibers can shed and would play havoc with camera equipment. I once had a hair caught in the film gate on a Nikon F100 and it was quite frustrating. I couldn't see it in the viewfinder but somehow it ended up in various positions hanging down into the frame time and time again. More than one roll was ruined this way until I located the little bugger. I shudder, thinking about getting something like this on the CCD in a digital camera. Instead, look for gloves made from a synthetic fleece-like material. If all else fails, you can buy regular gloves and snip the fingertips off yourself since fleece doesn't unravel like other materials would.

Other glove options include driving or riding gloves, archery, sport shooting or similar sport gloves. The more you investigate things, the more different kinds of gloves you can find.

If it's very cold, you can add thin polypropylene glove liners underneath your fingertip-less gloves. Grabber Mycoal Heat Treat chemical hand warmersMake sure they fit well though so there isn't empty space left at the end of each finger. I have small hands and always have difficulty buying gloves that fit. If they are too large, my fingers won't go all the way to the end of the glove's fingers and my dexterity wearing them gets severely compromised. For this reason, I always shop for gloves in person, never by mail order or internet.

Disposable chemically-activated hand warmers are a great invention worth considering. Operating via an exothermic ("heat generating") chemical reaction similar to rusting, these small pouches can produce a comfortable level of heat for hours and hours. Sticking one in each jacket pocket can help revitalize your hands between exposures (both meanings work here: "to the cold" and "frames shot on your camera"). The most commonly available brand of these in the US is Grabber Mycoal and you should be able to find them fairly easily in stores. In addition to hand warmers, the company makes sizes designed as toe warmers as well as several other specialized applications.

For other winter tips, you might be interested in two older PhotoTips here and here.

Update 10/25/2004 - A reader has informed me that they purchased gloves virtually identical to the LowePro ones as cold-weather runners gloves so you might also look at running or sporting goods stores in your quest for the perfect glove. The brand purchased was "Hind" but they apparently are the same thing as the LowePro right down to the color of the "nubbies".

Date posted: October 17, 2004


Copyright © 2004 Bob Johnson, Earthbound Light - all rights reserved.
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It's Winter ... Again!

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