Cold Weather Photography


Have you tried to take shots of snow on tree branches when it's -16 C? Fingers without mitts freeze after a few minutes. How to deal with this? Here is what the pro's say:


Dave Hunter, author/broadcaster, photographer:
In late October, I did a day-long photo-shoot at five Roman forts on Hadrian's Wall in North England. It was very windy, cold and raining and each location tended to be quite exposed - resulting in some very "atmospheric" photos. My hands became very cold and I improvised by using a pair of full-fingered leather driving gloves. These worked very well and are readily available in The Bay or specialty auto stores. An alternative I've also tried in the past are runners' gloves available at stores specializing in running shoes and accessories. They tend to be of thicker leather but still very pliable with cut-off fingers - not so easy to take off, though. For the "Roman" shoot, I kept activated chemical hand/foot warmers (Mark's Work Warehouse) in each outer pockets of my parka, so was able to re-warm my hands when not handling the camera. I also used a product called a "Rain-Sleeve" to protect my camera. Available for about $8, they can be obtained at most camera stores.
Dave Hunter is a member of TMAC, the Travel Media Association of Canada, SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers and has written and published two best-selling books on Florida travel. See: www.i75online.com

Anne Martin, travel writer, photographer:
I've done Hadrian's Wall too, and it was cold, but for sheer biting cold, filming the baby seals on the ice floes off Les Isles de la Madeleine did it for me. The solution was given to me by one of the Homeless Guys in Toronto who sells newspapers to help earn money. They had been given some mitts and I finally found a pair, I think it was Mountain Equipment Coop. They are really warm and glove-like with the fingers cut off, but there is a mitt-like attachment that folds over the fingers and when you are working, your equipment can be pulled back and held in place on the back of your hand with Velcro.
Anne Martin is a TMAC member, a skilled videographer and editor who, amongst others, has produced broadcast materials for PBS. See: www.ontopoftheworld.ca

Kate Pocock, travel writer, photographer:
A few years ago, I bought a pair of sparkly silver liner gloves intended to be the inner layer under ski gloves. These inner gloves are almost stretchy and lightweight enough to let the fingers manipulate the camera controls. I bought them at a ski shop in Whistler, but I'm sure that most ski or sports stores stock them. They are not that warm, at least probably not warm enough for the north, but warmer than bare fingers, and perhaps warm enough that you can temporarily line up a photo and press the shutter-release button. When you've finished taking your shot, you can easily slide these sparkly babies back into a pair of warm, lined leather ski gloves. Again, my outer gloves are supple enough to be able to do most things like setting up a tripod or focusing. They hook together so you can easily throw them over your elbow or around your neck until you need to really warm up your hands again.
Kate Pocock belongs to TMAC, SATW and NATJA, the North American Travel Journalists Association. She has built an extensive list of writing credits as well as awards. See: www.familytravelink.com

Anne Fawcett, travel writer, photographer:
I chanced upon the perfect warm-hand combination while manually digging and picking rocks from drainage a ditch in frosty conditions: white cotton 'archival' gloves inside rubber-covered cotton painters' gloves... Both available at Atlantic Canada's favourite store, Dollarama. Although I'm familiar with the Thinsulite hunters' mitts/gloves found in Home Hardware for about $15, there's nothing like a hand-knit thrummed mitten of pure wool. As I'm an inveterate loser (of mittens and gloves, too), I did what my grandmother did for me: tied them to each end of a ribbon which I put around my neck, donned the mitts and then put on the coat. Remove the mitts, and they're right there for you to pull over those cotton archival gloves when you've finished fine-tuning for your shots. Even when soaking wet, pure woolen mitts are warm so are ideal for shoveling the steps. This glove/mitten combination works on ski slopes too, but aren't so fashionable. The mitts alone are what Atlantic fishermen have always used for warmth.
Anne Fawcett is a former member of TMAC with an extensive list of writing credits, now re-located in New Brunswick.

Gary Crallé, photographer:
Real photographers don't have enough sense to feel the cold. But since I do, I have a heavy duty pair of mitts for the intervals between handling my camera and still more painful, my metal tripod, during which my camera is tucked inside my warm-as-a-bear Manitoba parka. Camera batteries lose power very quickly in deep cold, so it's important to keep them warm, whether left in or taken out of the camera. Back to my hands....When operating my camera, I wear a pair of rubber-dotted lightweight wool work gloves (expensively sold in camera stores, cheaply sold at Canadian Tire etc.). These give me a solid grip, and are fine for all but the most delicate buttons on a camera. The gloves without fingers have never worked for me, somehow allowing my fingers to freeze while always being in the way. In sub-zero temperatures, it's most important to keep your extremities such as toes and fingers warm. Frostbite is no fun.
If a camera is used outside in cold weather for any length of time, metal parts and glass become 'cold soaked' and therefore susceptible to condensation when taken indoors. To allow for gradual warm up without condensation, I keep my lenses in my camera vest pockets and camera with whatever lens is on it in a large Ziploc bag until equipment and room temperature are fairly even.
Gary Crallé is a member of TMAC, SATW and NATJA, an experienced freelance travel photographer with an impressive list of awards. See: www.garycralle.com


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