- Proper clothing can make the difference between having a good and not so good outdoor experience
- Dress in layers, polar fleece, wool and thermal underwear are warm choices
- Quality Winter Jacket with extra large one piece hood, I prefer a pull over style (no zipper) Make sure its big enough to fit a few extra layers underneath and freely move, the hood helps protect your head and neck from the elements
- Leather uppers / rubber sole waterproof winter boots with a foam liner and wool socks
- Bib style snow pants, the high pant bib keeps your core warm
- Sheep skin / wool bomber style hat, windproof and the flaps keep your ears warm
- Polar fleece face / neck tube scarf, this helps keep wind off your face and neck preventing frost bite to the cheeks….. an important piece of clothing
- Extra large leather winter mitts over top of finger tipless wool gloves, that way I can take the mitts off and have the wool gloves on to use my finger tips to adjust camera buttons and dials
- It is very important to not over heat and sweat, peel a layer off and stow in your water proof pack sack until you need it again. Surprisingly you stay pretty warm while moving and hiking around. When I keep my head / face, hands and feet warm, I can stay out all day
- Snow shoes and slip on ice grippers make it easy to get around in deep snow and icy conditions
- A hot Timmy's if possible or a thermos of coffee and a snack
- Tell someone where you are going in case of car problems or an emergency
- Store your camera in a padded camera bag, it will act as a thermal barrier insulating your camera from the elements, it will also help acclimate your gear slowly between hot and cold locations, helping control condensation, I use a KATA H14 it's an excellent bag
- Use silica sacs in your camera bag to help absorb moisture
- Keep your spare batteries in an inside pocket close to your body heat
- Use a camera strap around your neck, 1 for stability and 2 to have the ability to store your camera under your jacket in extreme temperatures, beware that in and out of hot to cold will cause condensation and fog up the lens and view finder so have a lens cloth handy to clean it up. Sometimes it is just best to leave your camera acclimated to the
cold and avoid repeated cold to hot, hot to cold condensation. It all depends on how cold and windy it is out before you need to protect your camera in your jacket.
- In extreme cold use manual focus as the auto focus drive tends to be sluggish or freeze up. I had mine do that at -50c with wind-chill
- Avoid changing lens in the cold and snow, pick one lens and shoot the day with that lens. Moisture is not your friend.
- If you get snow or frost on your camera and lens brush or blow it off while it is still cold or frozen, if it gets wet either from melted snow or condensation turn it off, take the battery out, wipe it down and let it dry completely before powering it back up. Most higher end DSLR's bodies are sealed up pretty good (but not waterproof) so a little moisture is not going to harm them, most lens aren't sealed so use extra caution with lens.
- Use plastic rain covers for your camera and lens in wet snowy conditions
- While framing the scene thru the view finder try not to breathe directly on the camera as heat and moisture can cause condensation, breath into your jacket or scarf
- Use your lens hood to help shade your lens from falling snow and snow glare
- After a long outing in the cold let the camera acclimate indoors slowly before reusing it
- Don't be afraid to get out there when it is cold and windy, you might miss that next wow shot
- Don't use your camera or lens if it gets wet, remove the batteries and wait until it dries out
- Don't stay in bed when its -30c, you might miss a beautiful frosty sunrise
- Don't skimp on proper winter clothing it can make a huge difference with comfort levels
- Don't be a Numb-Skull, play it safe in all extreme weather situations, be prepared, tell someone where you are going and when you wil return
Winters in the North can be bitter cold and terribly long. It is not unusual to have snow on the ground from the end of October to early May with temperatures in January dipping down to -40c with wind chill for weeks on end. During this time many photographers put their camera gear away until warmer temperatures return. Not me, I am out there photographing nature in all its winter beauty. Cold weather can provide for some interesting photo ops for those that dare brave the elements. The catch is you have to be prepared. That means proper winter gear for you and proper cold weather care for your camera and lens.
Cold Weather Do's – My Recommended Gear
Cold Weather Camera Tips
Cold Weather Don'ts