Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tips for Photography in Cold Weather

Words by Danielle Lancaster
Images by Augustine Mathews

There is no doubt, winter has arrived here in the southern hemisphere and while it is cold outside, winter provides photographers with an array of wonderful photographic opportunities. For those of us who dare venture out into wintery cold conditions we are faced with a different set of dilemmas from our usual sunny tropical days and these can vary from mechanical to psychological. Batteries may fail, condensation can form, lenses can fog, the LCD and other displays may start to flicker or even freeze themselves. This means a little care and preparation of our camera and gear is called for to ensure it works well, is not damaged and we don’t freeze to death in the process.

Image by Augustine Mathews

Here’s a few tips:

• Take a spare battery with you and keep it warm. Batteries do not like cold conditions and the life of the battery radically reduces when used in cold conditions. It’s best to keep your spare battery as close to your body as possible so it stays as warm as it possibly can.

• If your battery does run out of charge place it back close to your body or somewhere warm and you may well find the cold battery finds a bit more charge.

• Don’t keep your battery close to metal objects such as keys and loose coin change.

• Take a camera bag that can keep your camera warm while you are not using it or place you camera inside your jacket as you walk around.

• Never breathe on your lens to clean it especially when working in very cold conditions. It will generally smear your lens more and the water droplets on your breathe may freeze on your lens. Any ice on your camera or lens is just water waiting to be defrosted when you return inside. Immediately use a dry lint-free cloth to clean you camera lens and your camera of water, snow etc.

• If you are doing a lot of cold and even freezing weather photography it is worth while considering purchasing a waterproof plastic case – they vary in price and quality.

• When bringing your camera in from the cold, give it time to adjust to the room temperature. Its best to move the camera into an unheated room for at least half an hour first before the heated room and to place it inside a camera bag to help minimise condensation.

• If you do notice condensation, stop using your camera immediately!!! Continuing to use it may cause permanent damage. Remove the battery, lens cap and memory card and keep all the compartment doors open. Some photographers will even place their cameras into a plastic bucket of rice to absorb the moisture.

• Your camera manual specifications should list the minimum and maximum operational temperatures and humidity for your model of camera. If these are extended it may invalidate any warranty.

• Don’t forget you! Keep yourself warm – when you get cold your concentration waivers and soon you will find the indoors begging. Two pairs of socks can help with the feet, fingerless gloves and a warm beanie for your head (we lose a large amount of warmth from our heads). A warm drink is also a good idea.

Image by Augustine Mathews

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