photo by panaramka via iStock
You can’t feel your fingers, or your toes, your hair is whipping at your face so hard you swear you’re going to get a buzz cut as soon as you get home and you’re trying incredibly hard to not get snow in your boots.
It’s winter photography season, and when you’re worrying about not freezing to death, the last thing you want to be messing with is bad photography equipment. Winter photography can be absolutely stunning, and it’s definitely a foray into something most of us are not comfortable with, but you have to have to know your equipment to do it well.
First Things First: Test Your Gear
Photo by Arno Body on Unsplash
What temperature range can your DSLR handle during winter photography? Do you know? Most DSLRs can handle temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, which means no shooting in freezing temperatures for you.
But, newer or more high-end DSLRs can handle temperatures even colder than this, specifically for winter photography.
Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash
The good news is you’re not going to permanently damage your camera by taking it outside for a few minutes to see how it performs under the current weather conditions. Chances are, it will probably be fine, but you want to check your full setup before trekking up a mountain pass.
Editor's Tip: One of my must-haves in my camera bag is a durable, bright light. For that, I use the LitraTorch 2.0 because it's supremly rugged, small, and portable. It's waterproof too. With 16 LEDs that emit 100, 450, or 800 lumens, you can use it for light painting, to see as you change camera settings, as a torch...you name it! It's simply a versatile, go-anywhere light that any landscape photographer should have in their bag.
Tips for Winter Photography: Invest in High-Quality Accessories
Something that will make shooting photos in the winter an easier task is if you have camera accessories that are purpose-built to withstand harsh conditions.
One of the most important accessories for photographers is a good set of filters, but all filters are not made alike.
For the rough-and-tumble task of taking photos in the winter, you want something like the Summit series from PolarPro...
This system has an integrated circular polarizer slot that has easy-access control for manipulating the filter when your fingers are cold.
What's more, the Summit system has tool-free mounting options, a tool-less rail mount, and a snap-on hood attachment that make using this system a breeze, even when the weather isn't all that awesome.
PolarPro has made the Summit system super lightweight, too, so you don't have to carry a big, heavy, bulky set of filters around with you as you trudge through the snow.
It helps that each filter has an aluminum frame, as that reduces fingerprints on the filter glass while also maximizing protection for the filter.
And since these filters are available in 67mm, 72mm, 77mm, 82mm, and 95mm, you can find the right size for your specific needs.
If you're a landscape photographer and you don't have a good set of filters, the PolarPro Summit system is an excellent option for you for winter photography (and any other types of landscapes too!).
Tips for Winter Photography: Help Prevent Condensation
Matt Granger created a lovely video detailing how to prevent condensation in your equipment.
But, no matter how hard you try, when you’re moving equipment from the cozy indoors to snowy conditions, condensation will form, just like condensation forms on the windows of your car as soon as you get in.
My best trick for how to prevent condensation in your camera is this: I always keep a gallon-sized Ziploc bag in my camera bag. I’ll stuff my camera and lenses in it before I head outdoors so that way it can cool to the outside temperature before I expose it to any moisture.
photo by z1b via iStock
Another pro winter photography tip is to stop putting your camera in your coat when it isn’t in use. While it may seem like you’re helping the camera to not get too cold, all you’re really doing is warming it up and cooling it down over and over again, which is what we were just trying to prevent with the Ziploc bag.
Tips for Winter Photography: Keep Snow Away From Your Camera
I can’t talk about winter photography without touching on winter photography gear tips. I’m currently obsessed with Camera Canopy.
For one thing, this beautiful little contraption is only $90 (or $60 if you own a mirrorless camera you need to protect). For another, it’s made by a small, photographer-owned company, so by supporting it, you’re supporting a fellow photographer.
The Camera Canopy works better than a traditional camera rain cover, I can assure you. Plus, it’s extremely easy to set up, so you won’t need to fumble with your equipment while trying to mount it.
All you have to do is attach the Camera Canopy to the hot shoe of your DSLR, and you’re ready to shoot.
Additionally, if you’re prone to shoot way too far into a snow storm than you probably should, as I am, it also comes with a rear shield for complete protection.
Visit Camera Canopy’s website if you want to learn more.
Tips for Winter Photography: Keep Memory Cards and Batteries Warm
Jared Polin discusses a few tips for keeping your battery warm while shooting winter photography, but here are some more tips for winter photography.
Batteries the world over all work the exact same way, they’re worthless in the cold. While the rumors you’ve heard about lithium-ion batteries working better in extreme temperatures is true, even lithium-ion batteries quickly power down in freezing weather.
Never go shooting in extreme cold without keeping several spare batteries stored in your jacket pockets.
photo by bruev via iStock
As for memory cards, it may be time to update yours. Older memory cards perform worse in extreme temperatures, and photography gear companies are coming out with better cold-proofed memory cards every year.